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Giants-Eagles: What we learned

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- It was not a great game for the New York Giants. Their offense stumbled in the red zone and their special teams committed another huge blunder.

But the Giants still won their second straight game after losing six straight with a 15-7 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

"This is a day to be positive," Giants coach Tom Coughlin. "This is definitely a huge boost for our confidence and it reinforces what we've been doing."

There is another reason for the Giants to feel good about this one. They have been in last place in the NFC East all season, but now they are just two games out of first place after their victory and the Dallas Cowboys' 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions.

New York has a bye this week to rest, recuperate and prepare for the second half of the season.

The biggest positive for the Giants (2-6) on Sunday was kicker Josh Brown, who booted five field goals, only one off the team record of six set by Joe Danelo against the Seattle Seahawks in 1981.

The biggest negative for the Giants was a potentially disastrous mistake by long snapper Zak DeOssie that gave the Eagles (3-5) their only score of the game. DeOssie sailed the ball over the head of punter Steve Weatherford and the Eagles' Najee Goode recovered the ball in the end zone to make it 15-7 with 4:11 left in the game.

"I don't think I ever saw him do that before, even in practice," Coughlin said, shaking his head.

Quarterback Michael Vick started the game for the Eagles, but he did not finish it. Vick, who missed the last two games with a sore hamstring, aggravated the injury and was replaced by rookie Matt Barkley with about 2 minutes left in the first half. Barkley got the call because No. 2 quarterback Nick Foles was deactivated with a concussion.

Vick did not have much fun even before he reinjured his hamstring. His first possession ended with an interception, his second ended with a sack and his third with an intentional grounding penalty. Vick completed six of nine passes for 31 yards and the interception, which added up to a passer rating of 32.4.

Barkley, a fourth-round pick from Southern Cal, played better than he did last week when he took over for Foles against Dallas, when he was intercepted three times. Against New York, Barkley completed 17 of 26 passes for 158 yards and his only interception was a desperation heave on the final play of the game.

What the Giants said

"The big mantra the last couple of weeks is that we have to keep believing that we can get better and believe. We're still fighting and I feel really good about the way we're playing right now." -- Quarterback Eli Manning.

"We're just going out there every day, every practice, and trying to get better. When you keep your focus on that, and not on what everybody else is saying about you, then you will get better. And that's when you start winning games." -- Wide receiver Victor Cruz.

What the Eagles said

"I felt good going in. I felt like I did everything I was supposed to do to reassure myself that I could go out and play. But there's nothing like actually being in the moment and having to move and react. When I did that, that's when I pulled it again. I felt the pop." -- Quarterback Michael Vick on aggravating his hamstring injury.

"It's really hard to win games when the offense can't score points and help the defense out. That's totally our fault and we take responsibility. Two straight weeks have been tough for us." -- Wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

What we learned about the Giants

1. They won the game, but unless they improve their red-zone offense they will not win many more. The Giants had to settle for field goals five times and they are lucky the Eagles' offense was so bad or that poor performance in the red zone would have cost them the game.

"We were close on a number of plays that could have been touchdowns, a few plays out of the end zone on some fade balls and different things," quarterback Eli Manning said. "We have to get better at that, we have to start converting those into touchdowns and not settling for three points and keeping teams in the game, which we could have built a big lead early, and ran away with this thing."

2. This is not exactly a news flash, but the Giants' running game is really, really bad. They came into the game ranked 31st out of 32 NFL teams and they averaged just 2.8 yards per rush against the Eagles on Sunday. It is hard to believe that a rugged and dependable running game used to be the trademark of the Giants' offense.

What we learned about the Eagles

1. What happened to the new, super-charged offense of coach Chip Kelly? The Eagles have gone eight quarters without scoring a touchdown, and so far Kelly's offense looks a lot like the one used last year by Andy Reid's team. Maybe the Eagles need to schedule some games against the Pac-12. Kelly said instability at quarterback is at the root of the team's problems -- issues which also include Kelly's play-calling.

"I think we've had some instability at the quarterback position. I think we've also got to step up," he said. "And it starts with me. I'm the play caller. I'm the guy calling plays. In the last two weeks I haven't done a very good job of it. Until we can get that straightened out, the disappointing thing is I think our defense played a really, really good football game again today. They've really come along. But offensively we haven't done what we need to do to win two football games and we need to get that fixed."

2. While their offense has gotten worse and worse, their defense has gotten better and better. The Eagles have put together four pretty good games on defense and now that unit is the one that is keeping the games close instead of Kelly's offense. A big reason for that is the Eagles have not been giving up the big plays they did earlier in the season and teams have to earn their yardage -- and sometimes settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, like the Giants did five times on Sunday.

"I just think they're starting to really get the grasp and understanding of what our defensive coaches are doing," Kelly said. "I think they're in the right spots. They're holding disguises a little bit longer. They can confuse the quarterback at times. ... I think we can build from where we are on the defensive side."
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