NY Giants Gameday vs. Philadelphia Eagles
WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL
The first time these teams met this season, the Giants never established any kind of offensive momentum — a dealbreaker against the explosive Eagles offense. QB Eli Manning was shaky (20-for-39, 55.7 passer rating) and was intercepted on the Giants’ first possession, while the Eagles built a 17-0 lead. One thing the Giants can hope to apply this time around from the Dallas win is their ability to convert big plays — like the three straight 16-yard gains on the drive that ended in Hakeem Nicks’ touchdown catch or Brandon Jacobs’ 74-yard catch-and-run. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said the Eagles’ defensive ends have been a tough match-up for the Giants’ tight ends, so to have success running the ball, they’ll have to fare better in that battle. The Giants will also need to be mindful of taking care of the football. The Eagles are an impressive plus-12 in turnover margin and have forced their opponents to cough up the ball 28 times this season.
WHEN THE EAGLES HAVE THE BALL
The Eagles’ 40-17 win over the Giants in Week 8 showcased their big-play potential. In fact, three of the five longest plays the Giants defense has given up this season belong to Philadelphia: RB LeSean McCoy’s 66-yard touchdown run, WR DeSean Jackson’s 54-yard touchdown catch and FB Leonard Weaver’s 41-yard score. The Giants are determined to avoid a similar embarrassment this time around, particularly building off a stronger defensive showing last week against Dallas. To do so, they’ll have to be mindful of all the Eagles’ offensive weapons — the big-play culprits from last time, as well as versatile Michael Vick (who scored two touchdowns last week) and tight end Brent Celek (Jason Witten’s 156 yards last week were another example of the Giants surrendering yards to the opposing tight end). It will also be interesting to see how the Giants’ “floating” defensive fronts do against quarterback Donovan McNabb, who has fared well in the past against the Giants’ pass rush.
Jackson’s return after sitting out last week with a concussion doesn’t just give the Eagles a boost on offense, it also helps them on special teams. Jackson is averaging 15.5 yards per punt return, second-best in the league, including six that went for 20-plus yards and one 85-yard touchdown. The only returner with a better average than Jackson is the Giants’ Domenik Hixon, who is picking up 16.4 yards per return — and had the 79-yarder for a touchdown last week.
Past five: Eagles, 3-2 ; All-time: Giants, 82-71-2
DATE -- RESULT
Nov. 1, 2009 -- EAGLES 40, Giants 17
Jan. 11, 2009 -- Eagles 23, GIANTS 11*
Dec. 7, 2008 -- Eagles 20, GIANTS 14
Nov., 2008 -- Giants 36, EAGLES 31
Dec. 9, 2007 -- Giants 16, EAGLES 13
ONE MORE THING
The Eagles are 8-0 this season when they lead at halftime, and 0-4 when they trail.
with WR (and special-teams ace) Derek Hagan
You threw the final block on Cowboys WR Sam Hurd to spring Domenik Hixon’s 79-yard punt return for a touchdown last week. What was it like to be on the field for that play?
That’s something we’ve been working on for a long time. Since training camp, we’ve been hoping we can take a punt return to the house, and we finally got that opportunity. It was fortunate Domenik made about six, seven of the Cowboys miss, and once he came back around, he had a wall on the other side with myself, T2 (Terrell Thomas) and Dock (Kevin Dockery). We just escorted him into the end zone. It was pretty fun.
You have emerged as a vital part of the Giants’ special teams units, including as a gunner on punts. How have you made sure to be solid in that area?
It just comes down to just making sure I’m prepared. Playing special teams comes down to something you’ve got to want to do, and it’s something I want to do. Obviously I’m in the film room, watching certain things. I enjoy running down the field on kickoffs and punts, and trying to make a tackle and make sure the other team knows we’re going to be there at all times. I definitely have a good time out there.
You guys played with your formations on punt returns last week, sometimes using Aaron Ross as a protector in front of Hixon. Were you trying to get more out of every return?
That’s pretty much what it is. Coach is always flipping things around to put guys in the right spots so they have the opportunity to be able to make a play. It’s been very fortunate for us that we’ve been able to do very well on special teams. Hopefully we can keep it going this weekend.
You are a receiver by trade. Do you hold out hope for touches on offense?
I don’t hope; I just make sure I’m ready. I make sure I’m prepared. I know my plays and my assignments and all that stuff. I just know if the coaches need me, I’m going to be available, no matter what the situation, no matter what position.