Russell: Giants Prove They Are For Real After Winning NFC East Showdown With Eagles

There would be no Miracle At The Meadowlands this Sunday for the Eagles. The Giants were able to hold on for a 28-23 win in a game they never trailed in, moving into sole possession of second place in the NFC East.

There’s still half of the season remaining, but there was no denying the importance of Sunday’s victory.

“Definitely a big win in the division,” said Eli Manning. Manning was 22-36 for 257 yards, throwing four touchdowns and two interceptions. “Philadelphia, the last few years had our number and we’ve played close games, we haven’t been able to win those close games so to pull it off today and get that win was nice.”

Manning threw two touchdowns in the first six minutes, both set up after the Giants defense picked off Carson Wentz, the first Eagles rookie to start at QB against the Giants since Randall Cunningham in 1985.

But then the Eagles hung around. They cut it to 14-10. And 21-17. And finally 28-23. Even when they failed on a pair of fourth downs in New York territory in the first and had a field goal blocked they didn’t break.

Philadelphia had the ball at the Giants 17 with under two minutes left but the Big Blue defense forced four straight incompletions.

It’s just another day at the office for a Giants team that has had seven of its eight games decided by seven points or less. The Giants have been coming out on the winning end more often than not. “We believe,” said head coach Ben McAdoo.

But there has to be more than just believing. “Believe and execute,” McAdoo said. “We keep our foot on the gas, we play aggressive in all three phases at the end of the game, we are going to pull off a win. And I think you stay aggressive, you believe in each other and you feed off each other.”

For an offense that has looked slow at times, Manning went back to the deep ball on Sunday. There was a 26-yard touchdown pass to Odell Beckham Jr. followed shortly by a 30-yard touchdown to Roger Lewis. A 46-yard reception by Victor Cruz set up a touchdown and Sterling Shepard hauled in a 32-yard pass. “I think it’s just everybody knows you have to be ready,” said Manning, who moved into ninth place on the all-time passing yards list. “The ball is going to be spread around.”

The defense was able to bend without breaking. Landon Collins was the defensive star with an interception and team-high 12 tackles, including six solo tackles. Although the attention goes to the offenses in pro football, the Giants defense is clearly improved not only because of free agents New York brought in (although it didn’t hurt) but because Collins is now in his second year and getting more adjusted to the NFL after coming from Alabama.

McAdoo has said that 2015 is in the “rearview mirror”, and the Giants have won three straight games by a combined 16 points. And the Giants will likely be favored in their next three games against the Bengals, Bears and Browns.

Today, the head coach is pleased that his team won an NFC East showdown. McAdoo has been part of rivalry games, including Packers-Bears when he was an assistant in Green Bay, but he didn’t feel like delving into that and comparing rivalry wins. “That question is a little too dramatic for me right now,” McAdoo said. “We won in the division and we’ll take it.”

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