Monday, October 15, 2018

Philadelphia Eagles rout New York Giants, but lose key players to injury

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The injuries keep mounting for the Eagles.

So even when the struggling offense had by far its best game of the season as the Eagles buried the Giants, 34-13, on Thursday night, there was cause for concern when left tackle Jason Peters left the game with a biceps injury and cornerback Sidney Jones left with a hamstring injury.

In addition, right tackle Lane Johnson, a game-time decision with an ankle injury, somehow managed to limp his way through before leaving at the end of the third quarter.

Then starting cornerback Jalen Mills left midway through the fourth quarter with an injury. He came back in one play later. 

Still, the Eagles had to shuffle their offensive line and secondary around. All of this came four days after running back Jay Ajayi tore his ACL, ending his season.

It’s a good thing that the Eagles don’t play again for 10 days. Even that might not be enough for those hurt Thursday to return. 

For one night, however, the Eagles (3-3) had more than enough to beat the bumbling Giants (1-5) in a crucial NFC East division game.

That’s because quarterback Carson Wentz survived several hits to find Alshon Jeffery for two touchdown catches while completing 26 of 36 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns.

The Eagles needed a strong game from Wentz, and he delivered. So did the running backs unit as Wilmington native Wendell Smallwood became the lead back, rushing for 51 yards on 18 carries.

Corey Clement, who missed the previous two games with a quadriceps injury, had 43 yards on 11 carries.

The Eagles started fast, scoring 14 points in the first quarter. They had scored just seven first-quarter points in their previous five games combined. They led 24-6 at halftime. The 24 points was more than they had scored in any of their previous five games.

The Eagles needed all of that desperately. 

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The first touchdown was set up by Kamu Grugier-Hill’s interception on Giants quarterback Eli Manning, giving the Eagles the ball at the Giants’ 16. On third down, Wentz hit Jeffery for a 13-yard TD.

The Giants responded with a field goal, which was set up by Saquon Barkley’s 46-yard run. 

Later in the quarter, a 23-yard punt return by DeAndre Carter enabled the Eagles to start their drive at the Giants’ 44. Clement had a 14-yard run down to the Giants’ 1. Two plays later, he scored with 1:28 left in the first quarter.

Barkley’s 55-yard catch and run got the Giants to the Eagles’ 13, but the drive stalled and the Giants kicked another field goal.

Nelson Agholor’s 58-yard reception gave the Eagles the ball at the Giants’ 10. On the next play, Wentz connected with Zach Ertz in the back of the end zone with 4:22 left in the half.

The Eagles opened the third quarter with an impressive drive that ended with Wentz’s 1-yard touchdown to Jeffery for a 31-6 lead. Jeffery finished with eight catches for 74 yards.

The Giants, meanwhile, couldn’t take advantage of the Eagles’ injuries.

That’s because Manning was erratic, completing 24 of 43 passes for 281 yards. Odell Beckham Jr. was angry, as he was seen yelling on the sideline. He was a non-factor, with six catches for 44 yards.

Only rookie Saquon Barkley could do anything. Barkley finished with 130 yards rushing and 99 yards receiving. Barkely scored on a 50-yard run, bringing the Giants to within 31-13 early in the third quarter.

The Giants appeared to get a break when Smallwood fumbled and the Giants recovered at the Eagles’ 15. But after a replay review, the fumble call was overturned and the Eagles kept the ball.

They ended up driving down the field and kicking a field goal for a 34-13 lead.

From then on, it was a matter of survival for the Eagles – physically, not on the scoreboard.

Follow the Delaware News Journal’s Martin Frank on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

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