Extra Points: Men against Boyz in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – The iconic Philadelphia R&B band Boyz
II Men provided the halftime entertainment at Lincoln Financial Field on
Sunday night.

On the field, it was men against boys as the Eagles sent a message by
dismantling their NFC East rivals, the New York Giants, 27-0, the team’s first
shutout win since Dec. 1, 1996, also against “Big Blue.”

LeSean McCoy, who won the NFL rushing title a season ago with 1,607 yards, had
been limited to 273 yards on the ground entering Week 6 before exploding for a
season-high 149 yards on 22 carries against the Giants.

Nick Foles completed 21-of-34 passes for 248 yards, two touchdowns and two
interceptions for the Eagles while the Philadelphia defense sacked Eli Manning
six times, with linebacker Connor Barwin accounting for half of those. Overall
the Eagles D ended with eight sacks.

“Our (offensive) tackles had a tough time,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin
understated. “I didn’t think we played well up front at all. And I really
don’t know what the answer to that is. We were excited to come down here and
play a meaningful football game but we don’t have anything to show for it.”

Winning is often not enough in the City of Brotherly Love and Hall of
Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt once summed that mentality up perfectly when
he said “Philadelphia is only city where you can experience the thrill of
victory and the agony of reading about it the next day.”

Sure enough, there were plenty of detractors around this city despite the
Eagles’ 4-1 start coming into this game.

Philadelphia was winning but they were winning ugly and all of a sudden style
points became very important to a fan base which wasn’t exactly buying into
Bill Parcells’ “You are what your record says you are” mantra.

And to be fair the Eagles had been winning in unconventional ways, scoring
seven different return touchdowns before Sunday’s game, tied with the
1920 Buffalo All-Americans for the most in the first five tilts of a

That kind of production is simply not sustainable through 16 games and plenty
of observers around Philly feared a Giants team which was averaging 35 points
over their last three contests.

The real culprit in the all the hand-wringing, though, was expectations.

Philadelphia was supposed to be this unstoppable offensive machine under the
brilliance of the innovative Chip Kelly, capable of outscoring people week
after week and making up for what is perceived as a very flawed defense.

Instead the offense has been uneven, especially recently, thanks in large
part to a plethora of issues on the offensive line, including significant
injuries to Pro Bowl-level interior lineman Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis, along
with a four-game PED suspension to start the season for right tackle Lane

Those issues trickled down to the rest of the unit, causing the sequel to
Foles’ breakout 2013 season to predictably trend downward, and McCoy, after
piling up a ton of touches a year ago, to look far less explosive this time

Philadelphia, though, perhaps more than any other team, has embraced the new
NFL, a league that is now based on key defensive stops more than a
consistently dominating defense, and the so-called hidden yards that can be
piled up on special teams.

The Eagles brought in safety Malcolm Jenkins to be the ball hawk they have
long needed, and acquired Darren Sproles with the intent on improving their
return game. They also snared Chris Maragos and Bryan Braman, two special
teams-centric players who really can’t help at their designated positions, to
improve the coverage units.

All of those players have fit in beautifully and help make the Eagles as
balanced as it gets, capable of winning a game in all three phases. If the
offense isn’t humming, the defense might pitch it with a pick six by Jenkins,
Sproles might bring a kick back for a TD or Maragos may bust off the wing and
block a punt.

And sometimes the offense is what it’s supposed to be.

Against the Giants, things reverted back to normal with Philadelphia piling it
on from the opening kick with the up-tempo attack. By halftime, the Eagles had
outgained the Giants 274-89 and led 20-0.

“We want to start early,” Foles said. “We want to start faster and we did
today. It helps our defense out when we can put some points on the board
early. It’s a momentum thing.”

Foles did give New York a glimmer of hope with an ill-timed interception to
Zack Bowman early in the third quarter but any momentum was quashed when
Victor Cruz went down with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee while
attempting to haul in what would have been a TD pass on a fourth down.

“It’s incredible. A huge loss,” Coughlin said.

The devastating injury took all the wind out of the Giants’ sails and the
Eagles coasted to 5-1, deadlocked atop the NFC East with the surprising Dallas

“It’s a great position to be in,” Foles said of the team’s mark heading into
its bye week. “We still have a lot of season left to go and I still have a lot
of things to improve on.”

The only negative on the night for Philadelphia was a knee injury to Sproles,
one in which the Eagles are obviously hoping is an MCL and not an ACL.

“If you’re associated with the Philadelphia media or town, you look for
negatives,” the surly Schmidt also said when he was the city’s biggest sports
star. “I don’t know if there’s something about their upbringing or they have
too many hoagies, or too much cream cheese.”

Sunday, it was actually pulled pork and soft pretzels in the press box, and
everybody got their fill.

For one day at least, it’s safe to open the papers because the Eagles won with
some style.