EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Breathe a little easier Philadelphia and surrounding areas. The Eagles are back and looking super.
Just goes to show you what a little urgency, some big plays — and a timely game against the New York Giants can do for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Carson Wentz threw a season-high three touchdown passes and the Eagles got an early lift from their defense and special teams in beating the struggling Giants 34-13 on Thursday night, avoiding their first three-game losing streak since the 2016 season.
“It’s a big win for us,” said Wentz, who finished 26 of 36 for 278 yards and no interceptions. “NFC East and the conference. It’s huge. Being 3-3 is better than 2-4. This is more like who we are. We can build from this.”
The win put the Eagles into a first place tie with Washington (2-2) in the NFC East with Dallas (2-3) a half game back. The Giants are fading fast.
Wentz sandwiched touchdowns passes of 13 and 1 yard to Alshon Jeffery around a 10-yarder to tight end Zach Ertz to help the Eagles build a 31-6 lead. They beat the Giants (1-5) for the fourth straight time and seventh in eight games.
Corey Clement scored on a 1-yard run and Jake Elliott added field goals of 33 and 30 yards.
“This is finally the game where we played like the Philadelphia Eagles,” said Ertz, who was limited to seven passes for 43 yards. “We’re finally the Eagles again.”
Rookie halfback Saquon Barkley scored on a 50-yard run and rushed for 130 yards in one of the few bright spots for the Giants’ offense, which was booed repeatedly in losing at home for the third time. Aldrick Rosas had field goals of 33 and 21 yards.
This was seen as a must-win game for both teams in the weak and wide-open NFC East, and the Eagles went out and grabbed it.
They came into the game having scored seven points in the first quarter and they doubled that against New York.
Eli Manning was under pressure all night from the Eagles. They sacked him four times and hit him 13 other times. He finished 24 of 43 for 281 yards.
“We want to get after the passer every week,” Pederson said. “These games are battles. It all comes down to which team gets after the passer. We hit Eli and put him on the ground. That was big.”
It started on the opening series.
Kamu Grugier-Hill intercepted Manning’s pass that was tipped by fellow linebacker Jordan Hicks and he returned it to Giants 16. Three plays later, Wentz was forced out of the pocket and found Jeffery after getting all day to throw.
A 46-yard run by Barkley set up Rosas’ 33-yarder to cut the gap to 7-3, but the Eagles took control later in the quarter after DeAndre Carter returned a punt 23 yards to the New York 44. Passes of 17 to Jeffery and 14 to Clement set up Clement’s touchdown run.
A spectacular tackle-breaking run by Barkley on a 55-yard screen pass helped cut the lead to 14-6 in the second quarter but Wentz hit a wide-open Nelson Agholer on a third and 3 and connected with Ertz for a 21-6 lead on the next play.
Elliott made it 24-6 just before halftime and Philadelphia put the game out of reach with a 75-yard drive that ended with a short Jeffery TD catch.
“We didn’t do anything well enough to win tonight,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “Credit Philadelphia. Good football team.”
The only thing meaningful after that was Barkley’s touchdown run.
“How do I feel about my performance tonight?” Barkley asked rhetorically. “Doesn’t matter to me. We didn’t win.”