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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ. (CBS) — It wasn’t bound to last. It couldn’t. For one, the Eagles’ defense was bound to crack. It had to crack. Past evidence was too overwhelming. A looming issue was another dreaded fourth-quarter lead. That couldn’t last. It hasn’t five times this season.
But here were the Eagles, barely on life support and playing for their season, plowing through the Giants. Here was backup quarterback Vince Young breathing life into the Eagles’ faint playoff hopes by engineering an incredible 18-play, 80-yard scoring drive, converting six third downs along the way.
And here were the Eagles, behind Young, Riley Cooper and a suddenly resurgent defense, pulling off a remarkable 17-10 upset of the NFC-East leading New York Giants Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.
The Eagles did it without Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin, who were both out with injuries. They did something, missing those stars, not many thought they could do.
“I’m definitely happy and was excited about being out there, but overall, it was team effort, we played a good game,” Young said. “I started out with some jitters and I calmed down. I’ve been preaching all week we have four quarters.”
The win pulled the Eagles within reasonable striking distance of the Giants, improving to 4-6 while New York fell into a first-place tie with Dallas, each at 6-4.
“This was a knockdown, drag out NFC East battle, and they’re worth every dime each time,” Eagles’ coach Andy Reid said. “It was a good battle. Defensively, I thought we did a good job. Juan [Castillo] had a nice plan, and Marty [Mornhinweg] had a nice plan. Vince Young stepping in for the great Michael Vick did a great job.”
Jason Babin’s sack caused an Eli Manning fumble, and Derek Landri’s recovery sealed the victory with 1:17 left to play.
Young was efficient. Though he threw three interceptions, he finished completing 26 of 36 for 258 yards and two touchdowns, including the eight-yard scoring strike to Cooper with 2:50 left in the game that concluded an 18-play drive (the Eagles’ longest drive since 2002).
Cooper, who entered the game without a reception this season, ended up with five catches for 75 yards and a touchdown.
“We were going to do everything and anything to get that ‘W’,” Cooper said. “That [18-play] drive was a gut check. We had to dig deep there. We’re our worst enemy, and we lost a lot of games because of us. We have to keep the intensity during practice and like Coach Reid says, to let our personalities come out.”
If the Eagles somehow do make the playoffs, they can look at the 18-play, fourth-quarter drive that chewed up 8:51 off the clock as the turning point of this year. Young was 7-for-9 for 67 yards during the series.
“It was just a matter of settling down and getting into the swing,” Reid said about Young. “You have to get back into the swing and I thought his timing was better. He kept firing, which is what you have to do. He didn’t flinch, and a seasoned-veteran that he is, he got better. That [18-play drive] happened against us a couple of times. We were able to flop that over and get one. I thought the guys generated great energy. The guys were aware of the fourth quarter and what happened in the fourth quarter.”
DeSean Jackson had an interesting game. Back after missing last week’s game against Arizona for skipping a team meeting, Jackson was both maddening and electrifying. His 51-yard punt return late in the second quarter set up a touchdown, while an unsportsman-like flag ruined an earlier big gain.
The Eagles looked like they would generate more room late in the third quarter when Young tossed his third interception of the game — and the Eagles’ eighth red zone turnover this season when he tried a lob to Cooper in the corner of the endzone. Young’s underthrown pass instead landed into the arms of Giants’ cornerback Aaron Ross.
But Young wiped that miscue away by orchestrating the marathon fourth-quarter drive.
The Eagles’ defense, much maligned through the first nine games, was masterful. By the middle of the third quarter the Eagles had held New York to a mere 23 yards rushing on 11 carries. The Giants finished with 29 yards rushing in the game.
Landri, Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Trevor Laws, Trent Cole and Darryl Tapp caused problems for Manning all night. Entering the fourth quarter, Manning was 12 of 26 for 113 yards and an interception. The Eagles had forced New York into six three-and-outs. Eagles’ pressure caused Manning to finish with 264 yards by completing 18 of 35, with a touchdown and an interception.
Young’s last start was November 21, 2010, a 19-16 loss to Washington when Young played for the Tennessee Titans. When Young signed with the Eagles, he was the one that dropped the “dream team” bomb — a moniker the Eagles can’t seem to shake.
“I really have no comment about the dream team stuff, that’s in the past, it’s something that was totally blown out of proportion,” Young said. “This was a big win for us, and it was great to see the excitement and the guys smiling again. We just have to keep that excitement and continue to perform.”
DeSean Jackson left MetLife Stadium Sunday night in a walking boot, but Jackson said it was a precautionary move. Jackson left the field and headed to the locker room in the second quarter reportedly to examine his right knee and to be evaluated for a concussion. He later returned in the second quarter … The Eagles have won 12 of their last 17 prime time games … Andy Reid improved his record against the Giants to 16-13 (including playoffs), including wins in seven of their last eight contests … Reid is 25-12 against NFC East teams the second time he faces them in a season (8-5 against the Giants) … Since 1999, the Eagles are 46-3 when holding their opponent to 10 points or less … RB LeSean McCoy posted his eighth-career 100-yard rushing game and his fifth of the season … McCoy’s 1,019 rushing yards lead the NFL and are the most ever by an Eagle through the team’s first 10 games … McCoy has now topped 1,000 rushing yards in back-to-back seasons, becoming the fifth player in team history to accomplish that feat … McCoy’s 60-yard game-clinching run was the second-longest of his career. His two longest runs have come against the Giants (66-yard touchdown on 11/1/09) … QB Vince Young made his first start as an Eagle, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winner to WR Riley Cooper. Young is 31-17 as a starter, and has led 13 fourth-quarter game-winning drives, according to Pro Football Reference … WRs Steve Smith and Riley Cooper each caught their first touchdown of the season. Cooper’s was a game-winner that capped a season-long 18-play, 80-yard drive that ate up 8:51 … The Eagles converted 9 of 17 third-down opportunities (52.9%). Reid’s Eagles are 36-7 when converting 50-plus percent of their third downs … TE Brent Celek has accumulated 28 receptions for 309 yards and two touchdowns in the last five games … The Eagles forced the Giants to seven three-and-out drives (six in the first half) and held the Giants to just 29 rushing yards and a 1.7-yard average … Eli Manning was held to his second-lowest passer rating (74.0) of the season … LB Jamar Chaney registered his second interception of the season. The defense has nine interceptions in the last six games … The defense registered three sacks of Eli Manning, including split sacks by DEs Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp, and DTs Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson … DE Jason Babin stripped Eli Manning for his 10th sack of the season. The ball was recovered by DT Derek Landri and thwarted a potential game-tying drive by the Giants in the waning moments of the game … Babin now has 22.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in the last two seasons … WR DeSean Jackson had 88 receiving yards and a season-long 51-yard punt return. In his career, Jackson has amassed 278 yards and two touchdowns on 12 punt returns against the Giants (23.2 average).
Reported by Joseph Santoliquito