EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—The Philadelphia Eagles wrapped up a fourth consecutive NFC East title the same way they won the first three—with an awesome defense that made Eli Manning look like a rookie.
Brian Westbrook scored two touchdowns and the Eagles’ defense limited Manning to 14 yards passing in the second half and a woeful 16.9 quarterback rating in a 27-6 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.
“We made a lot of big plays today,” Eagles safety Quintin Mikell said. “That’s what we do. We do whatever we have to do to win.”
Mikell might have made the biggest play, intercepting Manning in the end zone in the second quarter on a first-and-goal from the 3-yard line with Philadelphia (10-1) clinging to a 7-6 lead. Manning and the Giants (5-6) never recovered in losing their fourth straight and fifth in six games.
The Eagles blew the game open in the second half, scoring 20 points and limiting the Giants to 47 yards in reaching the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. The Eagles are the third team since the 16-game schedule began in 1978 to win a division title by its 11th game, joining the Bears in 1985 and the 49ers in 1997. Chicago won the Super Bowl after the 1985 season.
The Eagles have reached the conference final each of the last three years, but they lost each time.
“It says a lot for our organization and our team as we continue to fight after what happened to us three straight years,” Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said. “For us to continue to reload and continue to battle and to come out here and win it so fast, says a lot.”
David Akers kicked field goals of 47 and 42 yards early in the second half to give Philadelphia a 13-7 lead, then Westbrook iced the game with a 1-yard touchdown run and a 34-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass.
McNabb, who was 18-of-27 for 244 yards, also scored on a 1-yard run.
Steve Christie kicked field goals of 22 and 31 yards for the Giants, who dominated the first half, but were shut down in the second by a defense that has not given up a touchdown in the last two games.
“I have to play better than I did,” Manning said. “I have to go out and perform. I’ve got to make plays and I can’t make turnovers.”
Manning finished 6-of-21 for 148 yards and two critical interceptions. He was also sacked five times and seemed confused by the Eagles’ frequent blitzes.
“That’s a tough situation, all rookies are going to struggle,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said. “The game is fast. He had never gone against the Eagles.”
On first down, Jeremy Shockey lined up wide to the left. As soon as the ball was snapped, Mikell sprinted toward the corner in anticipation of a fade pattern.
“I don’t know where he was trying to throw it,” Mikell said. “I don’t know if it was a fade. I just went up there and caught the ball.”
Several Giants players stood at the line of scrimmage after the play in disbelief.
“I just threw a bad ball, I didn’t throw it,” Manning said.
The second half belonged to the Eagles.
A 24-yard pass to Terrell Owens—four catches for 61 yards—set up Akers’ 47-yard field goal.
Manning, under heavy pressure, was intercepted by Brian Dawkins three plays later, setting up the second field goal.
Westbrook stretched the lead with his touchdowns, with the 1-yarder set up by Jevon Kearse’s blocked punt.
Then came an ugly play near the New York bench in the fourth quarter.
Manning was hit running out of bounds by Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and the officials threw a flag for a late hit. Several Giants surrounded Trotter and linebacker Barrett Green shoved the palm of his hand into Trotter’s facemask. Green got a penalty and was ejected.
“I wish he had stayed around, I wanted to talk to him,” Trotter said.
The Eagles moved the ball only once in the first half, but their seven-play, 53-yard drive was enough for a 7-6 halftime lead.
McNabb ignited the drive by breaking two tackles in the backfield en route to a 16-yard scramble. He capped it with a 4-yard TD run.
: Giants HB Tiki Barber rushed for 110 yards despite injuring his shin and getting stitches for a gash on his knee. … The win was the 66th for coach Andy Reid, tying him with Greasy Neale for No. 1 among Eagles coaches. … Giants DE Chuck Wiley tore ligaments in his left knee. … Akers’ 14 40-plus yard field goals are a single-season team record, breaking Paul McFadden’s mark of 13 in 1984.