Eagles end skid, keep NFC East title hopes alive with win over Giants
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Yes, of course, Jalen Hurts and coach Nick Sirianni heard the booming chants that echoed throughout the Linc from Eagles fans fed up with the pass-heavy offense that stalled in the second half.
“Run the ball! Run the ball!”
“I think I'd hear that too even if I had a double headset on,” Sirianni cracked.
No, of course, Hurts, Sirianni and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson weren't going to surrender to the whims of fickle fans and their play-calling proposal from way up in the cheap seats.
So they say.
The Eagles eventually listened, and fans went wild when Kenneth Gainwell ripped off a 22-yard run and D’Andre Swift scored on a 5-yard run — yes, a rushing score that kept their chance of an NFC East title alive.
Hurts scored on the “tush push” that gave him the NFL record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season and he threw for 301 yards and a touchdown to lead the Philadelphia Eagles past the New York Giants 33-25 on Monday night.
They even kept the fans happy — even if the Eagles weren't too pleased with the home crowd.
“They’re supposed to get loud for the defense,” Hurts said.
The Eagles (11-4) snapped a three-game losing streak that put Philly fans on edge — and led to a shakeup in defensive play calling. The losses to San Francisco, Dallas and Seattle essentially ended Philadelphia’s bid for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
But the path to a second straight division title is clear. The Eagles need to beat Arizona next week and defeat the Giants again in the season finale to finish atop the NFC East.
After three crushing defeats, it took a visit from the Giants to straighten out the Eagles. The Eagles are 11-0 at the Linc against New York since 2014 and beat the Giants three times last season.
Adoree’ Jackson gave the Giants (5-10) a late spark when he returned an interception 76 yards for a score and Saquon Barkley converted a 2-point conversion that made it 20-18 late in the third quarter.
Hurts and the Eagles held on thanks to the play calls of the fans, many dressed as Santa Claus.
It was still a largely sloppy effort, the kind that cost the Eagles of late against the more elite teams in the NFL.
“I'd love to say we’re close,” Hurts said. “I think it's trending in the right direction.”
Swift's TD made it 27-18 and it came in handy when New York's Tyrod Taylor — who replaced Tommy DeVito to open the second half — connected with Darius Slayton for a 69-yard score late in the fourth that made it 30-25.
With the Giants driving and at the Eagles 26, Taylor was picked off in the end zone by Kelee Ringo on the final play of the game.
“On those last-second plays, you are just trying to get a guy to get him one-on-one and a chance to make a play,” Taylor said. “Their guys were kind of restricting our guys physically without saying too much, from making those plays.”
Hurts eventually took care of business in a season where he failed to take care of the ball — his 18 turnovers are among the worst in the NFL.
Hurts had another misstep late in the first half when he ran for a few more yards rather than go out of bounds as the clock ticked down. Instead of having time for one more chance at the end zone, Jake Elliott kicked a 21-yarder as time expired for a 20-3 halftime lead.
The Eagles had not scored more than 19 points in any of their past three games. And it was their highest first-half point total of the season.
Hurts scored his 15th rushing TD of the season on a 1-yard “tush push” early in the first quarter that gave him the most for a QB in a season in NFL history. Carolina’s Cam Newton held the record at 14 in 2011.
Hurts threw a 36-yard TD pass to DeVonta Smith for a 17-3 lead that gave him 35 total touchdowns this season, tying the team’s season record. QB Randall Cunningham accounted for 35 in 1990 and Hurts matched him last season.
The Eagles got an early sign that their fortunes were changing at the end of a miserable month. Hurts had a disastrous snap sail over his head that forced him to sprint about 6 yards and chase the football. Hurts recovered, ran to his left and threw across his body to hit tight end Grant Calcaterra for a first down. The Eagles had an apparent touchdown reversed on replay later in the drive, but settled for Elliott’s 28-yarder and a 10-3 lead.
The Eagles had another turnover — the kind that cost them over and over in their losing streak — when Boston Scott fumbled the second-half kickoff. With strong field position, Barkley scored on a 7-yard run that cut it to 20-10.
Turnovers, picks, flags, another untidy effort showed that — even with a win — the Eagles still don't play like a team primed to make a second straight run at the Super Bowl.
But Hurts said it was time to adjust the expectations.
“When you have the type of guys we have on our team, everybody is going to be eager to grow, everybody is going to be eager for more,” he said. "But when did winning not become the main thing?”
The Giants host the Rams on Sunday.
The Eagles host Arizona on Sunday.
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