The Eagles continue to establish their personality as a big play team on both sides of the ball as they hit on multiple long scoring strikes and forced Eli Manning into turnovers. They seized control of the game on the third play from scrimmage when Leonard Weaver burst through the middle on a 41-yard touchdown gallop and never let up on the way to crushing their NFC East rivals by a score of 40-17.
The final score might actually make the game seem closer than it really was, as the Birds dominated the Giants in all phases of the game. If not for a fumble, an onside kick and the Eagles playing conservatively to eat up the clock, it could have been much worse. The Eagles moved the ball easily, seemingly scoring at will while pressuring Manning into erratic throws and mistakes.
Donovan McNabb had his strongest game of the season, completing 17 of 23 passes for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns. And, true to 2009 form, all were from longer range as he hit on a 54-yard strike to DeSean Jackson, a 23-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin and a 17-yard throw to Brent Celek. Adding to their long ball array, were Weaver's run and a 66-yard touchdown sprint by LeSean McCoy.
On defense, the Eagles rotated linemen and used a variety of stunts and blitzes to put pressure on Manning. Similar to last season's playoff game, the tactic exploited Manning's poise and average arm strength. On the Giants third play from scrimmage, Asante Samuel jumped a route to intercept a pass and returned it 37 yards to set up the Eagles second touchdown.
The Giants had many experts singing their praises as they beat up weak opponents in the early part of the season. Yesterday's thorough domination at the hands of the Eagles, along with losses the previous two weeks, has knocked the Giants out of first place and has them questioning their abilities. The soft part of their schedule is behind them and they face a tough slate of games ahead.
Meanwhile, besides their lapse in Oakland, the Eagles reinforced that they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender, possessing possibly the most explosive offense in the NFL. Jackson, Maclin and Celek give McNabb the best array of play making receivers that he has ever had around him. The team has largely been without the services of Brian Westbrook, so his return adds an elusive runner and pass catcher to a running corps that has been bolstered by McCoy and Weaver. Jason Avant and injured Kevin Curtis are nice accessories. This is clearly the greatest set of offensive skill position players the team has ever assembled.
Despite still in a learning mode, Will Witherspoon looks like a considerable upgrade for the defense as he flashes around the field making plays. The pre-season loss of promising Stewart Bradley left a big hole that now seems closed. This allows the defense to be aggressive with their pass rush and re-enage their secondary to concentrate on pass coverage rather than helping with run support.
Next week is the third leg of the NFC East round robin as the Eagles host the Cowboys, who also improved their record to 5-2 with a convincing win yesterday over Seattle. Dallas seems to have found their mojo as QB Tony Romo has gained confidence with the emergence of wide receiver Miles Austin. Marion Barber and Felix Jones have returned from injury, so the Cowboys are feeling like they have their own explosive array of weapons. Next Sunday night's game should prove to worthy of the prime time spot light.