Making like last year’s Giants, the Eagles beat the Giants 23-11 to advance to the NFC Championship game against the Cardinals. The Eagles, entering this game with a ton of momentum, took advantage of the Giants inability to score touchdowns, and convert on 3rd downs. A downright ugly game for the Giants, they went 3-13 on 3rd downs, and only scored on 3 field goals and a safety. While the Eagles weren’t much better on offense, they went 7-13 on 3rd downs, including converting on a 3rd and 20, to take control of the game.
The first half was topsy turvy. After a big kickoff return by Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants settled for a field goal- a recurring theme. Eli Manning threw one of his two picks to Asante Samuel, who brought it back to the one. Donovan McNabb scored on a QB sneak.
Early in the second quarter, the Giants forced McNabb into a intentional grounding penalty in the end zone, resulting in a safety. On the ensuing possession, John Carney missed a 46 yard field goal- another recurring theme. After the Giants tacked on another field goal, the Eagles kicked a field goal at the end of the half to take a 10-8 lead.
After trading field goals in the third, McNabb threw a one yard touchdown pass to Brett Celek on the first play of the fourth quarter, to take a 20-11 lead. David Akers added one more field goal to make the score 23-11.
Eli Manning was not good, throwing for 169 yards and two interceptions– a far cry from last year’s magical playoff run. Brandon Jacobs ran for 92 yards, and Derrick Ward ran for 26. Although the Giants kept Brian Westbrook in check, there failure to stop third down plays was their downfall.
The Giants will look back on this game, and kick themselves for not taking advantage of numerous opportunities, and not turning field goals into touchdowns. As for the season itself, a 12-4 regular season means nothing, because of a one game and done playoff appearance. The Eagles deserved to win this game. The Giants will look back on this season and wonder what went wrong.