Eagles Rally to Top Giants in Overtime
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Trailing by two touchdowns at halftime, the Eagles rallied to beat the New York Giants 23-17 in overtime, tying the Dallas Cowboys atop the NFC East at 6-7 with three games to play in the regular season.
A 2-yard Carson Wentz to Zach Ertz touchdown pass with 5:10 left in the extra frame capped 20 consecutive points by a banged-up Philadelphia team that was down to one receiver, the recently-promoted Greg Ward, by the time the gun sounded for a jubilant crowd which sat through a miserable rain-soaked affair.
In many ways, receivers have been the story of the Eagles' 2019 season, both the organization's lack of competent ones on offense and the inability to stop them on defense.
Philadelphia made the curious decision to go into Monday's "must-win" affair with only three healthy receivers after Nelson Agholor missed practice all week with a knee injury. Doug Pederson explained that Saturday by labeling Agholor a game-time decision and insisting tight end Josh Perkins, a former college receiver at the University of Washington, could fill in if needed.
If needed came quickly when Agholor was a pre-game scratch and Alshon Jeffery suffered what looked to be a serious non-contact foot injury early in the second quarter leaving only rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Ward as Wentz's only options on the outside. Early in the game Philadelphia used running back Boston Scott split out during the scripted plays while Perkins did indeed get some flex work once Jeffery left.
Wentz predictably struggled at first but found his groove in the second half, leading to three TD drives, all capped by 2-yard TDs, a Scott run and two Ertz receptions, including the game-winner.
Scott was the surprise and really put some juice into what had been a moribund Philadelphia offense, getting an opportunity when Miles Sanders was getting his leg checked in the third quarter.
The 5-foot-6, Darren Sproles-like Scott was a dual-threat, carrying it 10 times for 59 yards and adding six receptions on six targets for 69 yards, 128 yards of total offense.
Wentz, meanwhile, was at his best late utilizing the little known players like Scott and Perkins while mixing in his two mainstays, Ertz, who finished nine receptions for 91 yards, and Dallas Goedert, who had a big 28-yard catch late in the fourth quarter that set up the game-tying score.
Defensively, the Eagles struggled in the first half with speedy New York rookie Darius Slayton, who tortured Ronald Darby with 35- and 55-yard scores, as well as a 42-yard gash that set up an Aldrick Rosas field goal.
Jim Schwartz went to more zone coverage in the second half and Eli Manning, starting for the first time since Week 2, couldn't do much without the big play down the field taken away as the Giants fell to a dismal 2-11 on the season.
The Eagles control their fate over the final three weeks -- at Washington, vs. Dallas and at the Giant again -- with Week 16 against Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field shaping up as a de facto NFC East title tilt.
The bad news for Philadelphia was the injuries with Jeffery's being labeled a potential season-ender pending an MRI, according to a source. Right tackle Lane Johnson, meanwhile, left with what is being tabbed as a high-ankle sprain which could be a week-to-week issue and cornerback Jalen Mills exited with an elbow issue. Also, banged-up late were Arcega-Whiteside with a hamstring and cornerback Rasul Douglas.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen