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Eagles vs Giants: The Grades

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In their last game ever at the Meadowlands, the Eagles rolled up 45 points, and virtually clinched a playoff spot.

Barring an unforeseen collapse over the final three weeks of the season, the Eagles are headed back to the postseason for the eighth time in 11 years and are gearing toward their sixth NFC East title in the past nine years.

The Eagles 45-38 win over the Giants gave them a two-game lead over the Giants and a sweep of the season series. That means the Eagles (9-4) would have to lose out in their remaining three games – home with San Francisco and Denver – and at Dallas, while the Giants would have to win out at Washington, home with Carolina and at Minnesota.

Sunday night’s win, coupled with Dallas’ loss to San Diego, also moved the Eagles ahead of the Cowboys (8-6) and into sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

Here’s how they graded out in the crucial win.

PASSING OFFENSE Donovan McNabb completed 17 of 26 passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for a rating of 110.3. It was his fifth 100-plus rating of the season and his third highest rating of the season. It could have been higher, too. The interception to Giants middle linebacker Jon Goff  was just a bad read, and he barely missed a wide open Reggie Brown on what would have been another long touchdown pass. McNabb, however, found DeSean Jackson  all over the field. The second-year man, coming back from a concussion that kept him out a week ago, caught six passes for 178 yards. Jackson’s 60-yard touchdown pass, combined with his 72-yard punt return for a touchdown gave him eight 50-yard touchdowns this season tying a NFL record. Jackson picked up the slack for rookie Jeremy Maclin, who left the game with a foot injury and left the locker room on crutches.

Grade: A

RUSHING OFFENSE – The offense was balanced, with 24 runs to go with McNabb’s 26 passes, but managed just 77 yards. The Giants’ run defense, ranked 10th in the league, seemed to win most of the battles up front with the Eagles offensive line. Fullback Leonard Weaver was the leading rusher with 33 yards on nine carries, including an 11-yarder. Rookie LeSean McCoy had his second consecutive non-descript game with 28 yards on 10 carries. The team better hope he’s not hitting that “wall’’. They are going to need him the final three weeks.

Grade: C-

PASSING DEFENSE – Eli Manning, who did little in the Eagles win at the Linc in November, was 27-for-38 for 391 yards with three touchdowns for a rating of 130.5 He did have a costly fumble on a run out of the pocket, however. Manning’s 391 yards are the most the Eagles 10th ranked pass defense allowed this year and several of those yards came after the catch, as the Eagles missed too many tackles. Cornerback Asante Samuel did not have a good night, guessing wrong on some routes and not tackling well after allowing the catch. Safety Quintin Mikell made a few plays, but also missed two key tackles and was called for three penalties, two on consecutive plays.

Grade: D

RUSHING DEFENSE – The Eagles continued their streak of not allowing a back to gain 100 yards to 20 straight regular-season games and 23 straight games, counting the playoffs. Brandon Jacobs picked up 60 yards on 15 carries and Ahmad Bradshaw had 55 yards on 14 carries, as the Giants as a team ran for 133 yards. The Eagles, however, did force a key fumble by Jacobs early in the game that cornerback Sheldon Brown returned for a touchdown and another by Manning that prevented the Giants from taking the lead. Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter  played more than usual and had his best game since re-signing with the team. Trotter made eight tackles, including one for a loss. Defensive lineman Darren Howard was also very active.

Grade: B-

SPECIAL TEAMS – Jackson’s punt return for a touchdown, his second of the season, was a thing of beauty. He caught the ball near the sideline, took a step back, watched the Giants overpursue and then shot down the sideline for the distance. Victor Harris averaged 22 yards on five kickoff returns, before Quintin Demps came on and returned his one kickoff 30 yards. The coverage teams did a good job against the Giants Dominic Hixon. The dangerous returnman was held to a 21.5-yard average on eight kickoff returns and to a 9.5-yard average on two punt returns. David Akers’ blocked extra point attempt could have proved to be costly, especially when the Giants took a one-point lead, but the Eagles two-point conversion made up for it.

Grade: A-

 

Homepage photo: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger