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Giants’ fourth-down stops turn back Eagles

Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants sacks

Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants sacks Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 6, 2016 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Mike Stobe

The Giants should have given a game ball from their 28-23 victory over the Eagles to their defense for some key fourth-down stops. And another to Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson for going for it on fourth down to begin with.

The Eagles left six potential points on the board by passing up two second-quarter field-goal attempts. Both times the Giants stuffed running plays to give the ball back to Eli Manning.

Jason Pierre-Paul also blocked a field-goal attempt in the second quarter. So that’s nine points the Eagles flushed down a MetLife drain Sunday. They lost by five, so that’s kind of a big deal.

“I think we did a great job on third and fourth down — especially fourth down,” linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. “We got off the field a few times, turned over the ball on downs. That’s a good team we played against. We’re going to see them again. It’s a division game. It’s always tough. It’s always scrappy. We got up 14-0. That wasn’t going to be the case the whole game. We all knew that. It came down to being a one-score game.”

The Eagles also were 3-for-15 on third down.

Here’s the rundown of the relevant fourth-down action:

* Trailing 14-3, the Eagles went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Giants’ 23 on the first play of the second quarter. Quarterback Carson Wentz tried a designed running play and was stopped for a 4-yard loss.

* With the Eagles trailing 21-10 later in the quarter, Darren Sproles was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Giants’ 6.

* Pederson opted for a 40-yard field-goal attempt on fourth-and-10 near the end of the half, but Pierre-Paul blocked Caleb Sturgis’ kick.

* Trailing 28-20, the Eagles did convert a fourth-and-9 from the Giants’ 46 in the fourth quarter when Wentz hit Jordan Matthews for 21 yards. The completion led to a field goal.

* Trailing 28-23 with 1:32 left, Wentz overthrew Matthews in the end zone on fourth-and-10 from the Giants’ 17 to clinch the victory for the home team.

Wentz completed 27 of 47 passes for 364 yards for no touchdowns and two first-quarter interceptions. Andrew Adams, who picked off the second one to set up the Giants’ second TD, said he thought his team might have rattled the rookie.

“Our mentality was to come out fast and play fast and relentless,” he said. “We had a few disguises for the rookie quarterback, so I think that kind of got in his head a little bit. I really think that’s what contributed to the early success. Just moving around, disguising stuff.”

Was the Giants’ defense offended that the Eagles were willing to pass up points because they thought they could make it on fourth down?

“I wouldn’t think it’s offended,’’ Casillas said. “I think it’s more like, ‘We have to get off the field. We have to stop these guys.’ We’ve been doing it. We’ve been doing a great job on fourth down since the Ravens game with the big fourth-down stop. We had a couple stops today. Those are huge game-turners. They’re turnovers.”

New York Sports