After back-to-back losses for the first time this season, the Eagles’ week 18 matchup against the Giants has much more meaning than most fans would like. The team needs to win to clinch the division and the first-round bye. The game doesn’t mean as much to the Giants in theory, as they’re already locked into the 6th seed in the NFC. However, head coach Brian Daboll has not officially announced if starters will be playing or if they’ll be resting.
With the Eagles in desperate need of that 14th victory, I decided to look back at another late-season game against the Giants that essentially won them the division.
December 19, 2010
The Eagles have been on a magical run for most of the season. After quarterback Kevin Kolb got injured in the first game of the season against Green Bay, Michael Vick came in and took over as the starter, leading the Eagles to a 9-4 record. Around Vick was an explosive and young offense, with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, LeSean McCoy, and Brent Celek playing key roles. If the Eagles win this game, they gain first place in the NFC East and are in the driver’s seat to win the division.
The Giants are in a similar position as the Eagles. They also come into the game with a 9-4 record, and a playoff-like atmosphere at MetLife stadium. Ever since Tom Coughlin took over as head coach of the Giants, they have been one of the better teams in the NFC, highlighted by a Super Bowl run just a few years earlier.
The Giants also have an efficient offense, with Eli Manning airing it out to Mario Manningham and handing it off to the thunder-and-lightning running back duo of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. They also have a ferocious pass rush, led by Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Jason Pierre-Paul. There is a lot on the line for both teams in this game.
The Giants won the coin toss and decided to receive the opening kickoff. Seems like they wanted to make a statement. However, the Eagles’ defense, led by Trent Cole, forced a 3 and out. On the Eagles’ second offensive play, Vick gave it right back to the Giants, with an interception to Corey Webster.
The Philadelphia defense held strong again, with linebacker Moise Fokou getting his first and only sack as an Eagle. The teams traded punts before the Giants broke the scoreless tie. Manning marched the team down to the Eagles’ side of the field and hit Mario Manningham for a 35-yard touchdown. New York would hold the lead to end the frame, but Eagles safety Quintin Mikell intercepted Manning on the last play of the quarter.
Vick ran the offense to the 16-yard line but had to settle for 34 yard David Akers field goal. After a back-and-forth start to the game, the Giants dominated the next quarter. Manning connected with Manningham for another touchdown, 33 yards this time, to push the Eagles’ deficit to 11 points.
Vick got sacked by Justin Tuck on 3rd down and the Giants were quickly back to work. They drive down to the Eagles 7 but Asante Samuel and Quentin Mikell made back-to-back plays to hold New York to just 3 points.
With only 44 seconds left in the half, the Eagles tried desperately to get any kind of points, but Jeremy Maclin fumbled the ball at the 8-yard line. Manning threw his 3rd touchdown of the first half to Hakeem Nicks, and the Giants went into halftime with a 24-3 lead. A disastrous start for the Eagles.
Philadelphia got the ball to start the half but looked just as uninspired as in the first half with Vick getting sacked by Tuck and a very young Jason Pierre-Paul to end the drive on 3rd down. The teams traded possessions again, and with 5 minutes left in the quarter, finally had something to go their way when Manningham fumbled the ball at the Giants’ 25-yard line.
Vick and the offense quickly took advantage with an 8-yard Jeremy Maclin touchdown. With the score 10-24, the Eagles were still alive but needed to play near perfectly for the rest of the afternoon to pull the win out.
The defense got another stop on New York to open the quarter, allowing the Eagles to make the contest a 1 possession game. On their first play, Vick hit DeSean Jackson for a 30-yard pass up the middle, but he couldn’t hold onto the ball and fumbled it back to the Giants. Bradshaw and Jacobs pounded the ball down to the Eagles’ 8-yard line, where Manning hit Kevin Boss for what felt like the game-sealing touchdown.
Down 21 points with 8 minutes left is a near-impossible feat. The offense came onto the field and after looking lost for most of the day, got their first big play, a 65-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek. He broke some tackles and showed off great speed for a tight end as Vick hit him in stride down the middle of the field.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid sensed some fight left in his birds and called an onside kick, which the Eagles recovered at their 43-yard line. Jackson caught a 13-yard pass to start the drive, then Vick did the rest. He had a 35-yard scramble to take the ball inside the Giants’ 10-yard line, and a few plays later ran it in himself. The Eagles scored 2 touchdowns in less than 3 minutes, to make the score 24-31. Miraculously, Philadelphia was within 1 score for the first time since the beginning of the 2nd quarter.
Eli Manning and the Giants would push back a little. They got the ball down to the Eagles’ 40, but got penalized for a false start and were not able to convert on 3rd and long. Giants punter Matt Dodge pinned the Eagles deep at their own 12-yard line but Vick would not be denied at this point. With runs of 33 and 22 yards, he carried them down to the red zone, and hit Jeremy Maclin for his second touchdown of the game, with just 1:24 left.
Somehow, someway, the Eagles had climbed all the way back and tied the game at 31 all. Manning looked like he was trying to give Philadelphia one more chance as well, as he threw 2 straight incompletions and was sacked, as the Giants hoped for overtime. Dodge came on the field and punted the ball with 14 seconds left.
For some unknown reason, he decided to kick it right to the fastest player in football instead of out of bounds. DeSean Jackson, making his first and only return appearance of the game, put himself amongst all-time Eagles heroes. He caught the ball at the Eagles’ 35, fumbled it, and picked the ball up again with enough time to survey the field and find an opening in the coverage. In the blink of an eye, he ran past every defender and was running sideways to the endzone, before stepping in with all zeroes on the game clock. Miraculous!
The Eagles had their greatest comeback in team history, beating a divisional rival in the process and putting them in a position to win the division. Vick, after starting very slow, finished the day with 242 passing yards, 130 rushing yards, and 4 total touchdowns, one of the most clutch games for an Eagles quarterback ever. Eli Manning played very well too, with 4 passing touchdowns and 289 yards, but he could not deliver when it mattered the most. Celek and Maclin had 72 and 69 yards respectively and LeSean McCoy had 77 total yards. Ultimately, it was DeSean Jackson who made the biggest play, scoring the first-ever walk-off punt return touchdown.
January 8th, 2023
The Eagles and Giants play in Philadelphia in another late-season divisional game. While the Giants can’t win the division, the Eagles need this win to keep their stellar season from falling apart. There are certainly some bad vibes going around the team with back-to-back loses and injuries starting to pile up. I chose to remember this game though because it reminds Eagles fans that even though things may not be going great now, that does not mean they can’t be fixed and work later. The Eagles, much like this game, will come out with a victory, but it will not be nearly as dramatic as this one.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire