Ea­gles stand in way of Gi­ants clinch­ing play­off berth

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY ROB MAADDI

PHILADEL­PHIA | All the New York Gi­ants have to do to se­cure a play­off berth is beat a strug­gling di­vi­sion ri­val headed nowhere.

That’s no sim­ple task in front of a hos­tile crowd and a na­tional au­di­ence.

There’s plenty at stake when the Gi­ants (10-4) visit Philadel­phia (5-9) on Thurs­day night.

A vic­tory would se­cure New York’s first play­off berth since 2011 and also keep pres­sure on NFC East-lead­ing Dal­las (12-2). But prime-time games in Philly have been tough on the Gi­ants lately. They lost 27-0 on a Sun­day night in 2014, and 27-7 on a Mon­day night in 2015.

“I’ve been called ev­ery name in the book in Philly, but you have to em­brace it,” wide re­ceiver Odell Beckham, Jr. said. “They don’t want to see you win. It is a pretty ruth­less place down there.”

The Ea­gles have lost five straight games and they’re 2-9 since a 3-0 start, but six of those losses were one-score games. Among them was a 28-23 loss to the Gi­ants on Nov. 6.

Eli Man­ning nearly gave that game away. The Ea­gles had four chances to score the win­ning touch­down from the Gi­ants 17 in the fi­nal min­utes after Jor­dan Hicks made an ac­ro­batic in­ter­cep­tion of Man­ning’s pass. How­ever, Car­son Wentz threw four straight in­com­plete passes .

“We’re in all th­ese close games,” Wentz said. “To come up short time and time again, that (stinks). It’s tough and there are things we keep say­ing we have to learn from. At the end of the day, we have to find a way to win th­ese ball­games.”

They also want to pre­vent the Gi­ants from cel­e­brat­ing in their house. Last year, the Car­di­nals and Redskins clinched play­off berths in con­sec­u­tive games at the Linc.

“There is mo­ti­va­tion to def­i­nitely make sure that that play­off spot isn’t clinched here in Philly if we can con­trol it,” safety Mal­colm Jenk­ins said.

Ea­gles right tackle Lane John­son re­turns after serv­ing a 10-game sus­pen­sion for vi­o­lat­ing the league’s per­for­mance en­hanc­ing drugs pol­icy.

The team was 2-8 with­out him and used four guys to fill his spot. Halapouli­vaati Vaitai, Matt Tobin, Allen Bar­bre and Isaac Seu­malo each had a turn.

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