Further Review: What a winning drive for Eagles

Posted: November 22, 2011

EIGHTEEN PLAYS, the most the Eagles have put together on a scoring drive since the 2001 season opener. Eight minutes and 51 seconds, the most elapsed time in an Eagles scoring drive since a 10:26 drive back on Sept. 18, 2005. A whopping six third-down conversions, including the touchdown play.

The most amazing thing about the drive that beat the Giants Sunday night was the cast of characters. Vince Young? Clay Harbor? Ronnie Brown? Riley Cooper? Jason Avant? Yes, there was a huge DeSean Jackson play in there, and a strong sprinkling of LeSean McCoy, but the foot soldiers really pushed the march.

"Everybody that was called upon stepped up and made the plays on that drive," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said yesterday. "There were a lot of big plays in that drive, a lot of important plays."

Mornhinweg said he didn't begin the series, which started after the Giants kicked off following their first touchdown of the day, tying the score at 10, with any grand thoughts.

"Just score," he said, when asked what was going through his mind.

Mornhinweg didn't even plan to be as incremental and time-consuming as he ended up being - "there were three plays called that could have gone down the field," Mornhinweg said, had Young been able to hook up with receivers deep. Mornhinweg said he thought that despite the three earlier interceptions, Young was making the right reads and the right decisions all evening, even if the ball sometimes didn't go where he wanted it.

The Eagles tend to forget the run in times of stress, but Mornhinweg called nine runs on the drive, including a Young quarterback draw in which there was a bunch of room inside, it seemed, but Young tried to turn outside and gained just 3 yards.

That left a third-and-4 on from the Giants' 20 on which Mornhinweg said Young saw Jackson, one-on-one against Corey Webster, with room to maneuver, and wisely tossed the ball over there, even though Jackson did not have the first down when he caught it.

"He had a little air on 23," Mornhinweg said. But Webster almost made the tackle, pulling Jackson backward by the shoulders, until Jackson shook him off and jetted down the sideline 10 yards.

As the Eagles got closer to the end zone, Mornhinweg said, he was cognizant that Giants quarterback Eli Manning has led five fourth-quarter comebacks for victories this season. Mornhinweg said he felt he had to score a touchdown, and he wanted to either scrub some time off the clock or force the Giants to use timeouts.

After Jackson's play, which netted first-and-goal, the Eagles ran McCoy twice, gaining 4 yards and losing 2. Then Mornhinweg said he thought it was important to stay aggressive on third down, even though Young had thrown an end-zone pick the last time the Eagles got close to scoring.

The slant pattern on which Cooper was open at the back of the end zone was a "simple progression play designed for specific coverages," Mornhinweg said, "executed beautifully."

You never would have known that Cooper didn't have a 2011 reception coming into the game, let alone a touchdown, or that Young started the day without a 2011 completion.

"His decision-making was so good," Mornhinweg said of Young. "We were real confident with how our players were playing."


* Might have been the offensive line's best performance of the season Sunday night in pass protection, especially considering the quality of the opposition. Vince Young was sacked once and probably should have been able to get back to the line of scrimmage on that one. The Giants were so worried about LeSean McCoy beating them, they didn't really get after Young.

* As everybody in Eagles Nation noted, the secondary looked like less of a jumble without having to shoehorn Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie into the mix. Juan Castillo said he still moved Nnamdi Asomugha around a lot, but Joselio Hanson sure did a solid job in the slot. Andy Reid said yesterday he isn't expecting Rodgers-Cromartie back from his ankle injury any time soon.

* If Reid had more Buddy Ryan in him, LeSean McCoy's streak of scoring a touchdown in every game this season might have been preserved. McCoy's 60-yard gallop as the Birds were running out the clock set the ball at the Giants' 2 with 58 seconds left. Reid had Vince Young take a knee three times. "He had his chance," Reid said yesterday.

* Linebacker Keenan Clayton, inactive against Washington and Dallas, came back and really showed something the previous few weeks on special teams, Andy Reid said, leading to the former safety playing in the nickel against the Giants, and playing well.


That Vince Young would complete a Tebowesque fourth quarter with a game-winning third-down touchdown completion to Tim Tebow's college roomie, Riley Cooper?


The Eagles haven't lost at the Giants since Sept. 30, 2007. Five wins in a row since, including one playoff encounter.


It wasn't one of the six third-down conversions on that 18-play drive for the game-winning touchdown, but Jason Avant's 13-yard catch on second-and-16 from the Eagles' 45 was pretty clutch, setting up a third-and-3 on which Vince Young was able to find Clay Harbor for the first down.

Avant reached down and retrieved the ball just as the point of it was about to hit the ground.

"I didn't see [the ball] all the way, because there was a guy [Giants defensive lineman Dave Tollefson] in front of me," Avant said afterward. "If I would have seen it, I probably would have went down, but since I didn't see it, I just did the best I could."

Asked about the catch yesterday, Andy Reid said he was unable to savor it because left guard Evan Mathis went down with an ankle problem on the play, though Mathis quickly recovered and returned after a few snaps. Reid likened it to "sweet and sour pork."

The MetLife scoreboard operator showed the big-screen replay about a half-dozen times during the injury timeout, just in case Tom Coughlin wanted to challenge the catch. But as the screen showed over and over again, there was nothing to challenge.

It was Avant's only catch.

comments powered by Disqus