By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) – If New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning wants to
continue his hot stretch Sunday night, all he has to do is look for No. 26.
That number would belong to Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cary Williams.
Williams and the Eagles secondary have been the subject of criticism all
season for giving up long pass plays and touchdowns regularly.
“Everybody on the outside looking in has no clue as to what we do in this
defense or what’s necessary for us to accomplish our goals as a cornerback or
what’s our job on a particular play,” Williams said. “Even some commentators
don’t necessarily know what goes on because they’re not sitting in the meeting
rooms with us. It’s a false perception, I guess, to a degree. But I mean it
just is what it is. It’s a hard life for a cornerback. And I think we’ve got
the guys in our room to get the job done.”
Now the NFC East-rival Giants come marching into Lincoln Financial Field for a
primetime matchup and are riding high with three straight wins following an
0-2 start. The Giants have scored 30 or more points in each of the past three
contests, averaging 35.0 ppg in that time, and Manning is at the forefront.
Manning has been protecting the ball during the win streak, tossing eight
touchdown passes to just one interception. He had four INTs and three TD
passes in the winless start to the season. Manning said in training camp he
wanted to complete 70 percent of his passes and so far under offensive
coordinator Ben McAdoo his numbers are at 66.3. McAdoo’s offense is predicated
on quick releases, shorter throws and timely reads, and Manning has paid
attention to every detail.
The 11 touchdown passes tie Manning’s career high through the first five games
and he should eclipse last season’s total of 18. Manning, who has posted three
straight games with a rating above 100, helped lead the Giants to a 30-20 win
over the Atlanta Falcons last weekend and connected with rookie Odell Beckham
Jr. on a 15-yard scoring strike during 13-point fourth quarter. The Giants
scored the last 20 points to erase a 10-point hole.
“The fourth quarter was ours,” Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. “It was
very good. Congratulate our team. We battled back and we won the fourth
quarter and looked like the Giants in the second half and all three areas
contributed very well.”
Beckham made his NFL debut and had missed the start of the season because of a
hamstring injury suffered in training camp. He gives Manning another weapon on
offense, joining wide receiver Victor Cruz and tight end Larry Donnell. Rookie
running back Andre Williams will take over for Rashad Jennings, who is
expected to miss a few weeks with a sprained MCL. Williams got the Giants
rolling with a three-yard TD run versus Atlanta and finished with 65 yards.
Williams is excited for his first NFL start.
“I am very excited,” Williams said. “It is going to be my first start. I just
want to prepare as well as I can and make sure I am ready to compete at the
highest level I can.”
Williams and Beckham were the first Giants rookies to score TDs by rushing and
receiving, respectively, in the same game since George Adams and Mark Bavaro
did it twice in 1985.
New York is 3-2 and one game behind Philadelphia and Dallas for the division
lead. The Cowboys have a tough one this week at Seattle and will host the
Giants on Oct. 19.
The Eagles will have their hands full defensively and are 24th against the
rush (132.0), 25th in points allowed (26.4), 28th in yards allowed (406.2) and
29th in pass defense (274.2).
Opponents haven’t had trouble moving the football against the Eagles. St.
Louis had 466 yards in Sunday’s 34-28 loss and Rams rookie quarterback Austin
Davis threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns. San Francisco racked up 407
yards the week before and got 119 yards on 24 carries from Frank Gore.
Washington amassed 511 yards in Week 3 and both Pierre Garcon and DeSean
Jackson reached the 100-yard receiving mark.
Jacksonville and Indianapolis had more than 300 yards apiece against the
Eagles over the first two weeks.
Philadelphia may be just one of five teams allowing more than 400 yards, but
its 4-1 record is tied for the best in the league.
“Tough 4-1, soft 4-1, it doesn’t matter,” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly
remarked after beating the Rams. “You’re 4-1. It’s the same thing. You could
be 1-4, 4-1, you’ve got to go back to work on Tuesday.”
The defensive line is playing a lot better under coordinator Bill Davis. His
unit has recorded eight sacks in the past two games and must continue to
pressure the quarterback. Linebacker Connor Barwin leads the Eagles with three
sacks, while Trent Cole has 2 1/2 and Vinny Curry two. The defense could be
without linebackers DeMeco Ryans (groin) and Mychal Kendricks (calf).
Kendricks hasn’t played since a Monday night win over the Colts.
Ryans, though, said he expects to play and it was precautionary missing
Tuesday’s training session as well as Wednesday’s.
“Just precautionary,” Ryans said. “I just want to see how I feel. From Sunday
to today I feel like I’ve made some strides. I’m feeling better. If it keeps
going like it’s going, by the end of the week I’m feeling good and hopefully I
Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho will see more action if both Ryans and
Kendricks are sidelined. Ryans is confident Matthews can handle the Giants.
“Casey’s stepped in and he’s done a really good job,” Ryans said. “He’s
progressed over the past few weeks, and last week he played his best game.”
The Giants are 82-74-2 in the regular season against the Eagles (2-2 playoffs)
and have split the last four meetings between the teams. Including the
playoffs, the Eagles have won eight of the previous 10 matchups. Coughlin is
11-11 (0-2 playoffs) in games versus the Eagles in the regular season.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is 7-0 with 13 touchdown passes and three
interceptions in the past seven at home. He is trying to keep that streak
going and also improve on his overall play Sunday night.
“We’re continuing to progress,” said Foles, who has thrown five INTs already
after just two in 2013. “We’re in spurts, and we want to be more consistent as
an offense. But I saw us moving in the right direction. We just have to come
out here this week, make more corrections and continue to work on execution.
“I’ve just missed a few throws. I’ve missed five percent more throws, and
that’s something that you want to continue to get better at, continue to grow
each week. You want to be more accurate each week and you want to be a better
player each week, and that’s what I strive to do each and every day is just
He has been sacked just once in the last four games after going down five
times in Week 1 to the Jaguars. Foles has the weapons around him in Jeremy
Maclin, Jordan Matthews, Darren Sproles and LeSean McCoy to name a few. McCoy
was taken out of the game during the end of Sunday’s win because running backs
coach Duce Staley wanted fresh legs.
You can’t blame Staley for doing what’s best for the team. McCoy ran for a
season-high 81 yards on 24 carries, but has only one TD run this season. He
reached the end zone back in Week 2 at Indianapolis. McCoy liked what he saw
from last week and got right tackle Lane Johnson back in the starting lineup.
“It felt good having Lane in there. Lane has always been the type of player
who gets it done. He is fast, physical and very intelligent,” McCoy said. “So,
I was happy to have him out there. He helped us out today.”
New York’s defense is allowing 99.0 yards rushing this season (10th in NFL)
and hopes to have former Eagle and starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-
Cromartie on the field. Rodgers-Cromartie is bothered by a list of injuries
and said he practiced at full speed Wednesday.
The Eagles have seven touchdowns on returns this season and look to make
things happen again on special teams and defense. For how poorly the Eagles
are on the statistics side, they are starting to aggravate in all three areas.
“I think the Philly game is going to be another great test for our team,”
Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They are the defending (NFC East)
champions and they have a great team on all three phases of the ball, so it’s
going to be a challenge.”
Coughlin agreed with Amukamara when he said, “Every game is the most important
game of the season. This is a divisional game. Obviously, Philadelphia is
playing very, very well. It is a game within the division for us, so we are
just excited for that opportunity.”
The Giants lead the NFL with eight interceptions and will try to force Foles
into making mistakes. Amukamara, Antrel Rolle and former Eagle Quintin Demps
have two interceptions apiece.
All good things come to an end, and so will Philadelphia’s regular season home
winning streak. Manning and the Giants are playing great football lately and
will go toe-to-toe with Kelly’s up-tempo offense.
Nothing is better than beating your NFC East rival on the road and taking away
the division lead in the process.
“We’re just trying to make sure that we come out on top of our division this
year,” Rolle said. “Last year is last year. … I feel like this year it’s
definitely up and rising. We didn’t get a lot of credit in the preseason in
our division, but I think now the tables are starting to turn a little bit.
Dallas is playing good, Philly is playing good right now. I think we’re rising
and we’re stepping up to the challenges and we’re playing some good football
A halftime show with local R&B group Boyz II Men won’t help the Eagles.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Giants 31, Eagles 27