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Giants tighten race in NFC East with win over Eagles

Daniel Jones #8 of the Giants celebrates his

Daniel Jones #8 of the Giants celebrates his first quarter touchdown run against the Philadelphia Eagles with his teammates at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Giants won a game that vaulted them into contention in the NFC East. Given that division’s level of play, that might not be saying much.

But much more important was that the Giants looked like a bona fide playoff contender, never mind their division, for the first time this season.

They rode a defensive effort that did not allow a third-down conversion, a balanced performance from Daniel Jones that showcased everything the Giants want from him (running, aggressive passing and smart decision-making for a second straight game without a turnover) and two rushing touchdowns from Wayne Gallman to beat the Eagles, 27-17.

It was their first win over the Eagles since 2016, ending an eight-game skid. It also gave them just as many wins as the first-place Eagles.

That may only be three, and the Giants remain saddled with an unimpressive 3-7 record, but dang if they don’t seem to be — what’s the word? . . . it’s been so long . . . oh, yeah — good.

Of course, the Giants won’t buy into any of that.

"It’s irrelevant," Joe Judge said of the updated standings that have his team in second place, right behind the Eagles (3-5-1). "We’re not going to look at those, we’re not going to focus on those. That’s not an emphasis of our organization."

It doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate where they are compared to where they were a little over a month ago, though, wallowing as an 0-5 doormat.

"We were certainly frustrated the first stretch of the season and frustrated not to get the results we expected, but we didn’t let that discourage us," said Jones (21-for-28 for 244 yards passing, nine carries for 64 yards and a TD rushing). "But we didn’t let that affect our confidence."

It seemed as if the 11-point lead the Giants tend to build and then blow in just about every game was about to disappear early in the second half. The Eagles opened the third quarter with a 56-yard touchdown run by Boston Scott and a two-point run by Miles Sanders that made it 14-11. But the Giants responded with one of their most explosive and critical drives of the season.

Technically it was a six-play drive that covered 75 yards, but in actuality, it was three key plays that gave the Giants a touchdown and a 21-11 lead.

After scoring in the first half on a 34-yard run, Jones showed off the passing part of his game with back-to-back darts to Sterling Shepard (27 yards) and Golden Tate (38 yards) to get to the Eagles’ 10. Three snaps later, Gallman scored from the 1 with 9:49 left in the third quarter.

The Eagles scored another touchdown midway through the third, a 5-yard run by Corey Clement to make it 21-17. They went for two points again and Carson Wentz was sacked to keep the score at 21-17.

It remained that way until Graham Gano kicked a 35-yard field goal with 7:45 left that pushed the Giants ahead 24-17. Those three points tasted a bit sour after Jones appeared to rush for another touchdown from the 14, but the score was negated by a holding penalty against Andrew Thomas.

It still was a one-possession game with the Eagles driving, and a roughing-the-passer penalty against Leonard Williams put them in Giants territory. But the Giants were able to force a turnover on downs with 4:52 remaining when Travis Fulgham dropped a third-and-10 pass and James Bradberry broke up the fourth-down attempt.

Then came a key moment. On second-and-10 from the Giants’ 26, a 40-yard pass from Jones to Darius Slayton set up a 44-yard field goal by Gano that made it 27-17 with 3:06 left.

"Obviously they were expecting the run and expecting us to keep the ball on the ground and drain out the clock," Jones said.


"If you think you are just going to watch the clock tick down and it’s just going to run out in your favor, you are going to be really wrong against the Eagles," Judge said. "We couldn’t sit back today in any way, shape or form and think that we had scored enough points . . . We couldn’t come out here and leave any meat on the bone. We had to make sure we finished as a team to get the results we wanted."

After that last field goal, the defense did just that, forcing another turnover on downs with 1:05 left to seal the win.

"Three weeks ago, we lost this game in the final minutes," said safety Jabrill Peppers, who made the final open-field tackle on Scott on that fourth down after allowing the same running back to beat him for the game-winning touchdown catch in Week 7. "Now we find a way to hang on."

The Giants have a bye coming this week, but they will be playing meaningful games after Thanksgiving. Their next contest is Nov. 29 at Cincinnati.

That gives them plenty of time to prepare for the final six games of what only recently has begun to shape up as an intriguing season. It also gives them time to bask in the glow of victory.

"I can’t tell you how good it feels just to come into the locker room and dance a little bit," Gallman said. "Just finally letting some light shine."

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