PHILADELPHIA (AP)—The Eagles were in the rarest of positions on a football Sunday. They served as the opening act of a New York-Philly twinbill instead of kicking off as the main event.
“When you play these NFC East teams, you prepare for a heavyweight fight,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said.
The game was just the appetizer in a marathon day in the contentious NY-Philadelphia rivalry. The Yankees and Phillies were set for the first pitch of Game 4 of the World Series across the street only hours after the Eagles’ rout ended.
The Eagles (5-2) remained undefeated in the division and host Dallas next week. Philly continued its victorious run over NFC East teams a week after beating Washington.
However, McNabb knows the NFC East race isn’t over yet.
“The challenges are everyone has a big head and bouncing around like it’s going to happen every week,” McNabb said.
The Eagles dominated without running back Brian Westbrook(notes), who sat out after he suffered a concussion in the win over the Redskins. His absence caused Reid to add a new wrinkle to the offense: a fullback. Rarely asked to carry the ball under Reid, Leonard Weaver(notes) was an integral part early and helped catch the scuffling Giants by surprise.
The Eagles needed only three plays to score when Weaver ran 41 yards up the middle for a touchdown.
“It felt spacious,” Weaver said. “You don’t get a whole lot of opportunities as a fullback to feel what ‘open field’ is.”
It only got better from there for the Eagles—and their fans in the home green jerseys dotted with red Phillies caps.
The next drive—launched when Asante Samuel(notes) picked off Manning—saw a McNabb to tight end Brent Celek(notes) TD called back on a penalty. No worries. The two connected on a 17-yard score two plays later and a 13-0 lead.
It’s point totals such as this that make it all the more puzzling that the Eagles could go without a touchdown in a loss at lowly Oakland two weeks ago.
“When I can explain those things, I’ll be undefeated,” Reid said.
By then, fans from both teams could hit the parking lots and resume their tailgating. Philly fans ended the game chanting “Let’s go Phillies!” in the waning minutes.
“What a great day in Philadelphia today,” Reid said. “Two games against the same city team. It’s a great atmosphere for the fans of Philadelphia.”
New York (5-3) has lost three straight games after starting the season 5-0 for the first time since 1990. Manning continuously threw high over his receivers or was the victim of bad route running and threw two interceptions.
“You don’t expect it when you win five straight,” Manning said. “You’re feeling good, you’re feeling great and then, to lose three in a row especially, you just don’t feel like you’re playing your best.”
The Giants, eliminated by the Eagles in the NFC divisional game last season, were still in this one late in the second quarter after Manning’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Boss(notes) made it 16-7.
Five minutes were left in the half. Enough time to get to the break and regroup.
McNabb went deep to a wide open Jackson for a 54-yard touchdown on the first play after the kickoff. Jackson has become the top target McNabb’s lacked since Terrell Owens(notes) was in town dancing after scores and stirring the locker room.
Jackson, also a threat on punt returns, tied a team record with his sixth TD of the season of 50-plus yards.
Quick strikes, long strikes. McNabb, who broke a rib in the opener and missed the next two games, threw for 240 yards and was not intercepted.
Manning brought the Giants back from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win in overtime here in 2006.
Any thoughts of a similar comeback were squashed when Domenik Hixon(notes) fumbled the second-half kickoff. The turnover set up David Akers’(notes) 35-yard field goal, he also kicked a 30-yarder in the second quarter, and the Eagles continued their streak of having all their wins be by double-digit margins.
“That’s not the kind of football we teach and that’s not what we’re all about, but there it was again,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
^Notes: Jackson tied Timmy Brown (1962) for the team single-season record of most TDs of 50-plus yards. … Akers had a PAT attempt blocked after Celek’s TD. … The Eagles are 24-11 against the NFC in November and December since 2000.