Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD - The Philadelphia Eagles clinched a first-round bye in the NFC Playoffs by knocking off the New York Giants 34-29. It was an ugly performance by the Eagles who overcame their own mistakes to hold off the Giants.
The Eagles gave up over 400 passing yards and three touchdowns to Eli Manning. However, Nick Foles and the Eagles offense did just enough to earn the win.
Special teams also contributed in a big way blocking an extra point, a punt and a field goal in the victory.
An ugly game deserves an ugly report card and that is exactly what the Eagles get after this one.
Here is the latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
Nelson Agholor - Agholor has had an impressive season. He continued that in this game by making an unbelievable catch for a touchdown. Agholor jumped over a defender in the endzone and pulled it in for the score. It proved to be the game-winning score for the Eagles. He did have a bad drop in this game but Foles went back to him on the very next play and Agholor made a nice catch just past the sticks to move the chains. Agholor finished with seven receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Zach Ertz - Ertz returned for his first action since suffering a head injury in Seattle. It was a solid performance. He did a nice job of using his body to create a window for Foles to throw a touchdown pass and Ertz grabbed it for the score. Ertz broke a tackle to move the chains and get a first down after a nice catch in the flat. Ultimately, he caught six passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Jay Ajayi - Ajayi has continued to see his workload increase as the season progresses. He had some good hard runs and also did a nice job in the screen game to tack on some solid yardage. He is hitting the holes nicely and adding on yards after contact with his running style. Ajayi led the team with 12 carries for 49 yards. He added two receptions for 40 yards.
Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery was Foles' favorite target in this game. He saw a total of ten passes thrown his way. Some of those targets fell incomplete due to passes thrown away intentionally by Foles or at least once due to a miscommunication. Jeffery caught a pair of passes on the Eagles opening drive including a two-yard touchdown pass from Foles to give Philadelphia a 7-6 lead. Jeffery finished with four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Brandon Graham - Graham had a couple of big plays for the defense. He sacked Eli Manning in the second quarter. It was the only sack by the Eagles in the game. Graham also read a pitchout perfectly and dropped the Giants for a nine-yard loss temporarily taking them out of field goal range. Graham finished with four tackles including one sack and two tackles for a loss.
Kamu Grugier-Hill - Grugier-Hill was a huge factor on special teams. His biggest contribution was a blocked punt that gave the Eagles the ball just inside the Giants 20-yard line. He also added three special teams tackles. Grugier-Hill gives the team depth at linebacker and more importantly gives them consistency on special teams.
Nick Foles - Overall, Foles did a really good job in his first start for the injured Carson Wentz. He did not turn the ball over and played with confidence. Foles did struggle at times with his accuracy. He misfired to several receivers missing them when they were open. Foles has more playmakers around him than he did in his last season with the Eagles during his prior stop in the city. These guys helped him out at times. Nelson Agholor bailed him out by leaping for an under thrown ball and taking it away from a defender for a touchdown. He also did a great job recognizing a wide open Trey Burton after he was left uncovered in the endzone. Foles completed 24 of 38 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins made his impact felt more on special teams than on defense. He blocked an extra point after the Giants opened the game with a touchdown. Jenkins also blocked a 48-yd field goal that would have given the Giants the lead in the fourth quarter. Defensively, he was involved in what appeared to be a miscommunication with other defensive backs that led to a first down completion on the final drive by the Giants that was ultimately stopped. He finished the game with seven tackles including one tackle for a loss.
Nigel Bradham - Bradham played a solid game. He picked up a big tackle for a four-yard loss at the end of the third quarter. Bradham could have had two interceptions last week in Los Angeles and nearly had a pick-six in this game. The two near misses last week as well as the one in this game were all dropped. Bradham did commit a costly personal foul penalty, which cannot happen. Bradham tied for the team lead with 11 tackles. He also had a tackle for a loss and a pair of passes successfully defended.
Doug Pederson - Pederson appeared to get into spits and spurts of pass plays followed by run plays and then back to pass plays. There was not a whole lot of change of pace. I still have yet to understand why he feels the need to give four running backs carries. To me it appears Ajayi, Blount and Clement should be the guys getting the carries right now. Pederson made a bad decision to challenge an incomplete pass to Torrey Smith in the first half. It was clearly incomplete and cost the Eagles a timeout. He also had a bad play selection on fourth-and-one. Blount was the only back in the backfield and it appeared everyone in the stadium knew he was getting the ball. The Giants stopped him for no gain and took over on downs. All of that being said, Pederson did manage to lose his MVP caliber Quarterback and still find a way to win. He has also led this team to a first-round bye and no worse than the two seed in the NFC playoffs.
Ronald Darby - Darby had some highs and lows in this game. We will start with the positive. He jumped in front of a receiver and pulled in an interception. Darby took that interception and returned it 23 yards breaking nearly a half dozen tackles along the way. It gave the Eagles the ball at the Giants 20 yard line and eventually led to a touchdown. Darby nearly had another interception later in the game. On the negative side, he missed a tackle that enabled Tavarres King to score a 57-yard touchdown. Those kind of mistakes need to be tightened up by the time this team takes the field in the postseason. Darby finished with five tackles, an interception and three passes successfully defended.
LeGarrette Blount - Blount has seen his touches and productivity slipping. He has not been as effective carrying the ball lately. Blount got stopped on fourth-and-one for no gain creating a turnover on downs for the Giants. In his defense, everyone in the stadium knew he was getting the ball. Blount finished with seven carries for 21 yards.
Jim Schwartz - Schwartz needs to do a better job preparing his guys. He has done a good job throughout most of the season, but they appeared to be a couple of steps behind the Giants in this game. The Giants got the ball out quickly and the Eagles continued to give up completions on slants. They also committed some costly penalties along the way making it easier on the Giants to move the ball down the field. Allowing the Giants to rack up 504 yards in total offense and convert 10 of 18 third downs is definitely not good. Missed tackles are also becoming a bit of a concern over the past few weeks.
Rodney McLeod - McLeod did a great job of delivering some punishing blows on Giants receivers after they made a catch. He also nearly made an amazing diving catch for an interception in the endzone. It went off his fingertips and fell incomplete. However, McLeod also missed a tackle along the sideline allowing a 67 yard touchdown by Sterling Sheppard. McLeod finished tied for the team lead with 11 tackles including one tackle for a loss.
Jalen Mills - Mills has had a very good season overall, but absolutely did not have a good game against the Giants. He committed multiple defensive holding penalties, including one after the Eagles appeared to stop the Giants on third and goal. They later scored a touchdown on that drive. Mills also lost his jockstrap on a great double-move by Tavarres King for a 13-yard touchdown. He finished with four tackles and one pass successfully defended.