Last week I referenced the 1978 Miracle in the Meadowlands (as well as the 1989 Clyde Simmons game), marketing this Eagles-Giants grudge match as ” Mêlée in the Meadowlands ” (now of course in New Meadowlands Stadium) but I had no idea my turn of phrase would turn into… THIS! Philadelphia Eagles came into this game sporting the worst-ranked Red Zone defense in the league. For the better part of three quarters, the New York Giants took advantage of this Philadelphia deficiency. New York manhandled the Eagles offense while Eli Manning and Mario Manningham picked apart a patchwork Eagles defense (decimated by injuries to Stewart Bradley, Brandon Graham and rookie safety Nate Allen) which featured rookie Jamar Chaney making his first start at middle linebacker.
The Giants struck first when Manning lobbed a 35-yard TD pass to Manningham, ending a nine-play, 71-yard drive in which the Giants converted three long third downs. Manningham, midway to his sprint to the end zone as Manning released the ball, tangled with cornerback Dimitri Patterson before finding himself wide open to haul in the pass.
In the second quarter, Manningham caught a short pass, spun away from Patterson and sprinted the final 20 yards for a 33-yard touchdown. That gave the Giants a 14-3 lead, and momentum was building toward a late-half crescendo. The Giants marched steadily toward the end zone again, but the Eagles stopped them at the 7-yard line, forcing a 25-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes with 48 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Vick, working at Philadelphia’s 18, threw a pass to Maclin at about the 30. Maclin appeared to bobble the ball, and it squirted loose as his knees hit the ground. Giants safety Kenny Phillips scooped it up and ran it to the 8 with nine seconds left. An official in the replay booth called for a review. The result stood. Manning threw quickly to Hakeem Nicks in the left side of the end zone. A tight game was blown open — at least until Vick took over.
First half ended 24-3 Giants and heading into the fourth quarter it was 31-10 Giants. Second half was more of the same – punctuated by Andy Reid failing to throw the challenge flag on what seemed like a desperation attempt to salvage a DeSean Jackson catch-and-run. The call on the field had been that Jackson fumbled on his way to the ground and it was recovered by New York. Replay provided evidence that Jackson was grazed by the hand of a Giants defender during his descent so he could have been considered down by contact. Reid had the red challenge flag in his hand ready to throw but never received word from the “Eye in the Sky” regarding the replay. It seemed at this point that the Giants 21-point lead was safely back in the hands of Eli Manning and the offense and that all hope for an Eagles comeback were dashed. That Giants drive stalled and the Eagles got the ball back with less than 8 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter (7:28 to be exact).
Thanks to a successful onside kick (thank you Riley Cooper and David Akers) combined with Brent Celek’s 65-yard catch and run TD and Michael Vick’s 3rd down 35-yard scamper (followed by a QB draw into the end zone from the 4), the Eagles came all the way back adding Rookie MLB Jamar Chaney’s forced a fumble and Jeremy Maclin’s 13-yard TD grab with 1:30 on the clock. New York got the ball back holding all three timeouts (the Eagles had none) and needing to go 30 yards to get into field goal range and avoid overtime. Two incomplete passes and a QB sack later, the Giants were poised to punt but the clock was still running. Advantage Giants who let it run before opting to execute the punt. So, with 14 seconds remaining, rookie Giants punter Matt Dodge was instructed to punt toward the sideline. Instead, the punt went directly to DeSean Jackson – who promptly fumbled it, picked it up, bobbed and weaved his way through traffic and then kicked on the afterburners. Not only did Jackson take it to the house for the winning score, he also added insult to injury by flamboyantly running along the goal line before darting into the end zone, making sure there was no time left on the clock.
Vick passed for 242 yards and three touchdowns and led the Eagles in rushing with 130 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. The Eagles, who have the NFL’s top-rated offense, scored 28 total points in the second half.
The officials made the Eagles kick the extra point anyway, but the epitaph was already written. 27 unanswered points in just under 7 minutes and the Eagles now stand at 10-4, one full game ahead of the New York Football Giants for bragging rights in the NFC East. Considering the level of competition in the NFC playoff picture, it is likely that someone will win the NFC West (Rams, Cardinals, Seattle by default but none of them seems to want to win the division- possibly with a losing record) while a potential 11-win team may not qualify as a wildcard. Should there be a tie, the Eagles have won both games over the Giants this season, so they would win that tiebreaker – meaning the Giants have to hope the Eagles lose two games or someone else falls off the wildcard pace.
Eagles can clinch the division with one win in their next two games, home games against the Vikings and Cowboys. Playoffs? Are we talking about playoffs? PLAYOFFS?
VIDEO link of final punt return: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d81d06fc3/WK-15-Can-t-Miss-Play-Jackson-s-walk-off-punt-return
In his postgame news conference, Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said he took full responsibility for the loss and for the final play. But immediately after the game, he met punter Matt Dodge on the field, and screamed at him in his face. He could clearly be seen saying: “I told you to punt the ball out of bounds!”
In his news conference, Coughlin said Dodge told him he had received a high snap and was not able to direct the kick as he would have liked.
Rookie safety Nate Allen was carted off the field in the second quarter with a right knee injury and did not return. He was later diagnosed with a torn ACL and his season is over. Allen ran in to tackle Giants WR Mario Manningham, slid and immediately grabbed his right knee. Allen didn’t appear to be hit on the play.
The 37th overall pick in this year’s draft, Allen was named Defensive Rookie of the Month in September after recording 19 tackles, 2 INT and a sack in his first three games. Allen entered Sunday’s game as one of only two players in the league with at least three interceptions and two sacks (Eric Berry, Chiefs).
For the record
LeSean McCoy in the second quarter became the eighth 1,000-yard rusher in team history (Wilbert Montgomery three, Duce Staley three, Ricky Watters three, Steve Van Buren two, Brian Westbrook two, Earnest Jackson and Herschel Walker).
Giants WR Mario Manningham is the first player with 2 first-half TD catches of 33 or more yards vs. Eagles since former Eagle Cris Carter with the Vikings (42 and 78) from Rich Gannon Oct. 15, 1990.
Linebacker Moise Fokou recorded his first career sack, taking down Eli Manning for an 18-yard loss in the first quarter.
Kicker David Akers became the first player in league history to account for at least 130 points in four different seasons. David Akers is also the third player in NFL history with four seasons of 30-plus field goals and is the second player to do it three consecutive seasons.
RELATED ARTICLE: Melee in Meadowlands http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2010/12/16/eagles-vs-giants-melee-in-the-meadowlands/
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org