One-win teams collided on Thursday with plenty of ups, downs and everything in between. Though it wasn’t always pretty, it was dramatic. The NFC East tilt came down to the wire, with Carson Wentz throwing a beautiful game-winning touchdown score to Boston Scott and a Brandon Graham forced fumble sealing the Philadelphia Eagles’ 22-21 win over the New York Giants.
1) Long lamented for his inability to stay healthy, Carson Wentz is now bounding about recklessly, throwing playground passes and rushing right at defenders in the hopes of willing the Eagles around, over and through their struggles. He’s putting his team’s tribulations upon his shoulders and it’s having adverse effects — and dramatically triumphant ones. On an evening in which he was sacked three times and threw a horrible interception, Wentz also had three total touchdowns and a season-high 359 yards passing. The last of his touchdowns was a beautiful throw in an ugly game that found Boston Scott for the game-winning score. Wentz is trying to do too much and there are plenty of signs that he’s regressing, but dang it if he doesn’t just keep coming back. Wentz simply won’t go down easy and with him, neither will Philadelphia. The oft-injured former first-rounder is doing anything he can to keep his team’s hopes alive, often falling flat, but on this night that was not the case. It’s impossible to argue that Wentz’ shaky play hasn’t hurt the 2-4-1 Eagles, but it’s equally impossible to argue that when success is found he’s not orchestrating it. Good, bad and ugly — for which there was plenty on Tuesday night — Wentz is leading the Eagles and they’re going to go as high — or low — as he can carry them.
2) Unfortunately, this one lived down to expectations. A showdown with NFC East title hopes and top-five draft positioning in the balance all the same, the Eagles and Giants each looked great at times and awful at too many others. But as of now, the Eagles are a half game in front of the Cowboys (2-4) in the punchline that is the NFC East, while the Giants (1-6) have fallen a half-game behind the Washington Football Team (1-5). For all the criticism and eye-rolling that comes when people converse about this division, it is a dramatic train wreck. And right now the Eagles are steaming ahead, a tie with the Bengals early in the season bound to come into play at the end of all this. The seemingly never-ending storyline of Philly dealing with injuries is as prevalent as ever, but so too is their characteristic ability to hang around and keep fighting. And right now, they’re leading on the cards in a bout destined to go into the 17th round. It’s been a tribulation-filled season thus far for the Eagles in which it’s been arduous to point out what’s gone right. But on this Thursday night, the outcome did for first-place Philadelphia.
3) With nothing but open field and opportunity ahead of Daniel Jones, the second-season quarterback stumbled short of the end zone and rolled to an indelible image that very much encapsulates his Giants’ season – and pretty much the division of which they’re a part of. Jones burst through for an 80-yard run and was only stopped by his own shaky legs and empty gas tank, rolling to a halt short of six — though it was eventually cashed in by teammate Wayne Gallman. It was a run and premature ending that drew laughs from Jones’ teammates on the sideline and turned Twitter into a comic frenzy. It was perhaps fitting of Jones’ season, though, as even the good seems to end badly. This was arguably Jones’ best game of the season, after all, and it ended with a Brandon Graham strip-sack of Jones sealing a New York defeat. Jones had two touchdown passes for only the second time this season — and the first time since Week 1 — and the Giants’ leading rusher on the season was the game-high rusher with 92 yards. There were the glimpses that have always been there for Jones, but then there were the stumbles. And the fumbles and stumbles are quickly looking like harbingers of what’s ahead rather than Danny Dimes cashing in on leading the Giants back to being a formidable franchise.
4) There were too many pitfalls on each side to nitpick a game with such an amount of blunders. However, down the stretch, it was clear the Giants are a team that very much is still learning to win. Jones hit Evan Engram on a third-and-7 play that would’ve put the team’s second win to bed. Instead, Engram dropped it and the Eagles found new life. On the ensuing Eagles drive, it was third-and-goal from the Giants 5 when Philly once again found new life, this time thanks to a defensive holding call on Logan Ryan. Talent isn’t always the issue that separates winning and losing, it’s knowing how to win and how to close out a victory. On this night, the Giants showed that’s an area they must still grasp.
5) There was no Miles Sanders for the Eagles and there’s been no Saquon Barkley for the Giants. While criticism is heaped upon Wentz and Jones, they’re also leading their squads rushing attacks along with their passing games. There is no rest for the weary or the struggling. Something needs to change. As everybody screams about Jones’ struggles in the passing game, he’s leading his team in rushing yards, evidenced by his 80-yard roller coaster of a run that was for more yards than a Giants running back has gained in a game all season, per NFL Research. Wentz scored his team-leading fifth rushing TD. A guy with an injury history of Wentz’ likely shouldn’t be your bulldozing back. Gallman’s 36 yards on 10 carries were the Giants’ best total after Jones’ 92 yards on the ground, while Scott led the Eagles with 46 yards on the ground. Neither of these teams will turn things in the right direction offensively if everything is squarely upon the shoulders of their shaky signal-callers.
6) Travis Fulgham’s TD streak ended at three games to start a great story of practice-squad player to Eagles No. 1 receiver. Is he a bona fide No. 1? Obviously four games in, it’s still too early to tell, but he had a game-high 11 targets with five catches for 73 yards, including a big 40-yard gain. Surely not the most impressive stats, but he’s commanding notice from the Giants and has emerged as Wentz’ go-to guy. Fulgham is a developing story, but so far so good and amid an Eagles season that’s been far more about tribulations rather than triumph, the young wideout has offered up some promise of what lies ahead.
7) Sure it was a one-point win and all, but Philadelphia continued its dominance over the Giants. Thursday saw the Eagles win for the eighth straight time against New York. Not since November of 2016 have the Giants won in this rivalry and it dates back all the way to 2013 for the last time New York won in Philly. New York’s last win in this matchup was actually Wentz’ first game against the Giants. Since then he’s had three game-winning drives against Big Blue, the latest coming Thursday. It’s been a trying season through seven weeks for the Eagles, but they got a familiar sigh of relief at the expense of a historic rival.
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