Nick Foles isn’t Carson Wentz, but the veteran backup stepped in for the Eagles’ MVP candidate and played well enough to beat up on a terrible Giants team 34-29 Sunday, despite every effort by the defense to give the game away.
The Eagles let the Giants march up and down the field all day, but stopped New York when they needed a stop the most, as Eli Manning was unable to find his receiver in the end zone on fourth-and-goal down five points with under a minute to play in the game.
The Eagles clinched a first-round bye with the win, and they’re going to need it to figure out what in the heck is wrong with this team before hosting a playoff game in a few weeks.
For what it’s worth, the problem wasn’t Foles. He threw for 237 yards and four touchdowns on the day, keeping the Eagles’ run of 30 or more points in eight of the last 10 games, with more than 24 points 12 times this season. In the Doug Pederson era, the Eagles are now 18-1 in games they score 24 or more points.
The win not only locked up a first-round bye, but it keeps the Eagles ahead of Minnesota for home field throughout the NFC playoffs.
But let’s be real, if the defense plays the way it did against the Giants, home field won’t mean a damn thing.
But for an interception by Ronald Darby, the defense was terrible. The special teams unit did block three kicks in the game, including an early extra point, a key punt that led to a quick touchdown for the offense in the second quarter, and a field goal in the fourth quarter with the Giants attempting to take back the lead.
There were a few three-and-outs for the Giants, and they did make the key fourth-down stop at the end of the game, but the Birds’ defense let an offense ranked 31st in the NFL look like a playoff team most of the day.
The defense allowed 326 yards passing to Eli Manning and the Giants offense through three quarters, finishing the game allowing 434 in the air.
And, no, Carson Wentz doesn’t play defense, but the fact is his ability to extend plays, and therefore drives, was clearly an issue for the Eagles defense.
As good as Foles was at finding the end zone in his first start of the season, he and his receivers seemed on different pages for much of the game — understandable, given he has barely practiced with the starters all season until this week. He seemed unsure on a number of throws, missing his receivers or tossing the ball out of bounds on plays Wentz has habitually converted this season.
That said, the Eagles did convert on almost half of their third down attempts, but it was clear they missed Wentz on those plays.
And yet, a win is a win. The Giants always seem to play the Eagles hard and this game was no different, even if it said way more about the defense than the Wentz-less offense.
The Eagles have a bye, and with two more games left in the season, hosting Oakland on Christmas night and then Dallas the week after, they need just one win to clinch home field. Then the real test begins, not just for Foles, but for the defense as well.