Entering Sunday’s Eagles-Giants showdown in Philadelphia’s home opener at Lincoln Financial Field, conventional wisdom held that the Eagles had too many weapons and too much speed for the Giants to compete. On Sunday, though it was New York that powered past the Birds 29-16, snapping a six-game streak of Eagles dominance over the G-Men and injuring Michael Vick’s right hand in the process.
Something simply didn’t feel right about the Eagles offense early in the game and about Vick in general as he was battered repeatedly in the first quarter. Meanwhile The Giants jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to two big plays including a 40-yard pass down the sidelines to Ahmad Bradshaw which weakside linebacker Casey Matthews bit hard on a play fake, leaving the Giants running back wide open down the sidelines for an easy score.
“They faked the run, it was almost like a little bit of a boot,” Matthews said afterwards. “The linebacker on that side of the play has to stay with him. I saw it late and tried to get there, but he was already gone.”
For the record, Matthews, a fourth round choice out of Oregon this season, was moved from middle to the weakside this week at least in part because of his inability to diagnose run plays and read the gaps as they developed. The Eagles tried to hide Matthews by moving him to the weakside and Coughlin found the birds weakness and exposed him for a big play on Sunday.
Despite the slow start, the Eagles climbed back into the game thanks in large part to LeSean McCoy who had a career day rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. However, even that performance apparently didn’t merit McCoy a touch when the Eagles failed to convert on first, second or third and goal inside the Giants two late in the third quarter.
rookie Alex Henery’s 21 yard field goal off of the Giants slamming the door on the goal line gave the Eagles a 16-14 lead at the end of the third quarter.
It didn’t take long though for the Eagles to squander whatever momentum gained from taking the lead.
With 14:20 remaining in the game and the Eagles leading 16-14, Andy Reid made the inexplicable decision to go for it on fourth and one from the Giants 43-yard line. LB Michael Boley stuffed McCoy in the backfield and the momentum quickly swung in the Giants’ favor.
After the game, Eagles defensive players were clearly despondent in the locker room after squandering a fourth quarter lead for the second consecutive week.
“I thought it was the right thing to do there.” Reid said, explaining the decision in one of his more informative answers during a 3:23 post game press conference.
The choice to go for it in that situation is simply inexcusable. The Eagles’ defense had notched four sacks at that point, and pitched a shutout since the two minute mark of the first quarter. Reid had the opportunity to pin the Giants deep in their own territory, but chose to hand New York the ball just 25 yards from field goal range.
“I definitely think the momentum shifted to their column a little bit after that,” McCoy said. “Even though we still had the lead.”
On the ensuing drive, QB Eli Manning spotted WR Victor Cruz deep down the field for a 28 yard touchdown; Cruz’s second of the game and vaulted the Giants into a 22-16 lead.
To make matters worse for the Eagles, Vick injured his right hand (contusion) at some point in the third quarter and left for good after the Giants fourth down stand.
The details surrounding Vick’s injury are rather fuzzy. The quarterback left the field to undergo X-Rays in the third quarter and returned in time for the next series, only to be knocked out of the game for good after the Giants stuffed the Eagles on fourth down. The Eagles announced after the game that there were two sets of X-Rays taken on Vick at the time and the first round was negative.
“I don’t remember, honestly.” Reid said afterwards when asked if he knew Vick’s hand was broken when he was sent back into action the first time.
Initial reports have Vick missing 2-4 weeks.
Vick finished the afternoon 16-23 for 176 yards and an interception adding seven rushes for 31 yards. The Eagles quarterback also took several hits to the head including a helmet to helmet hit from Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul which left Vick holding his helmet. Throughout, Vick looked just a hair off.
Afterwards Reid was asked — by yours truly — if Vick underwent a baseline test or impact test during his trip to the locker room.
“What?” Reid gasped. “Let’s talk some football here.”
Reid’s rebuff of a legitimate question was astounding, as if Vick’s concussion came as a result of tripping over his shoelace sometime during the week.
Vick though, was quite adamant about the fact that he doesn’t believe he gets the same respect from officials that other quarterbacks do in the league.
“I mean, you all see it,” Vick said. “There’s no reason for me to get into a big dissertation about why I’m not getting the calls. The refs, they have to do their job. I even mentioned it in training camp to the refs when we had our little meeting just for precation. But hey, I don’t know.”
On the play that Vick broke his hand, he put his hand towards his head to protect himself from Chris Canty, a 317-pound mammoth of a defensive tackle who nailed Vick after he released the ball.
“I was trying to protect myself,” Vick said. “Still, I didn’t get a flag and that’s pretty much been the story for the last three weeks. I mean, obviously at some point something catastrophic is going to happen. I broke my hand today.”
Vick will have a CT scan on the hand tomorrow, Reid said afterwards that the hand wasn’t displaced.
Backup QQB Mike Kafka came on to relieve Vick after the injury and threw two interceptions. It remains to be seen who will be under center next Sunday, assuming that Vick is unable to go.
After an ugly and frustrating afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles are now 1-2 and look ahead to a game next week with the San Francisco 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field.
Clearing out the notebook
- The Eagles are now 4-9 in home openers under Andy Reid and have lost three in a row by a combined score of 104-58.
- DeSean Jackson was held to two catches for 30 yards against a Giants secondary that was missing its top two cornerbacks due to injury.
- The Eagles were 1-5 scoring touchdowns in the red zone on Sunday.
- Turnovers continue to plague Michael Vick who now has 16 fumbles in his last 10 games.