Ea­gles back on track, beat Gi­ants

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Zach Ber­man

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It took six weeks, but this was the type of per­for­mance the Philadel­phia Ea­gles had been wait­ing for this sea­son.

Af­ter ap­pear­ing like a shadow of the Su­per Bowl cham­pi­ons while slog­ging through the first five games, the Ea­gles as­suaged mount­ing con­cern about them with a dom­i­nant 34-13 win over the New York Gi­ants on Thurs­day night.

The Ea­gles had not scored more than 23 points in a game yet this sea­son. They reached 24 by half­time. They to­taled only seven first-quar­ter points through the first five games. They scored on the open­ing drive and had 14 points by the time the sec­ond quar­ter started. Car­son Wentz played to the

MVP stan­dard he set last sea­son and the de­fense swarmed Eli Man­ning. The Ea­gles moved to 3-3, giv­ing them the most wins in the NFC East, and they now have ex­tended rest en­ter­ing next Sun­day’s game against the Carolina Pan­thers.

Wentz went 26 of 36 for 278 yards and three touch­downs for his best game of the sea­son Al­shon Jef­fery caught eight passes for 74 yards and two touch­downs. Wen­dell Small­wood and Corey Clement com­bined for 29 car­ries for 94 yards in their first game af­ter Jay Ajayi’s sea­son-end­ing in­jury. And the de­fense had four sacks and a turnover.

The Ea­gles used their for­mula from last sea­son. They built an early lead, al­low­ing their pass rush­ers to pin their eyes back and get af­ter Man­ning and the run­ning backs.

It looked like it would be a good night from the game’s first minute, when Jor­dan Hicks de­flected Man­ning’s pass on the sec­ond play of the game and Kamu GrugierHill grabbed the in­ter­cep­tion and re­turned it to the Gi­ants’ 16-yard line to give the of­fense fa­vor­able field po­si­tion.

Still, the red zone has been a prob­lem for the Ea­gles in re­cent weeks. They scored touch­downs on only 3 of 9 vis­its dur­ing the pre­vi­ous two games. Wentz made sure the Ea­gles cap­i­tal­ized on this trip. Fac­ing a third-and-7, Wentz rolled to his right and hissed a pass across his body to Jef­fery in the end zone for a 13-yard touch­down. It was an ex­cep­tional play by Wentz, who played like the fran­chise quar­ter­back on a night the Ea­gles needed it.

The Gi­ants’ only chance to take a lead there­after came when they re­gained pos­ses­sion at their 9-yard line with a 7-3 deficit, ex­cept Michael Ben­nett burst past $62 mil­lion of­fen­sive tackle Nate Solder for a strip sack of Man­ning. Al­though the Gi­ants re­cov­ered, they were pushed back­ward and the Ea­gles had fa­vor­able field po­si­tion af­ter forc­ing a punt.

The Ea­gles turned on the rout. Clement’s one-yard touch­down run came two plays af­ter a 14-yard rush and on a night when he’s try­ing to con­vince the front of­fice that they don’t need to add a run­ning back in the com­ing weeks. That touch­down gave the Ea­gles a 14-3 lead, and it turned out those were the only points they needed.

The Ea­gles con­verted 9 of 16 third downs, in­clud­ing a 58-yard pass to Nel­son Agholor in the sec­ond quar­ter. Agholor showed im­pres­sive aware­ness, break­ing off his route when needed if it helped Wentz com­plete a pass. Wentz fin­ished the drive with a 10-yard touch­down to Zach Ertz.

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