Eagles stun Giants with dream drive in fourth


Eagles stun Giants with dream drive in fourth


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. A year ago, they pulled out a win here on one of the most electrifying plays in NFL history.

This year, there were no fireworks. No long pass. No big return. Nothing close. No, this time there was just a methodical 18-play, nine-minute, 80-yard drive led by backup quarterback Vince Young and a desperately needed 17-10 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

It wasnt just one big play, said Riley Cooper, who caught Youngs game-winning TD pass with 2:45 left. It wasnt just a 50-yard bomb here. Everybody contributed. We pieced that drive together.

Eighteen plays? No big plays? That just doesnt happen with this team.

Thats really not us, Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. But we had to do it that way. We just had to.

The Eagles had blown five fourth-quarter leads this year, and no team in NFL history has ever blown six, and when Eli Manning threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz to tie the game at 10-all 3 12 minutes into the fourth quarter, you couldnt help think it.

Its happening again.

We couldnt let it happen again, LeSean McCoy said. Played that bad dream over and over and over again, and we did a good job of not letting it happen again.

Young, making his first start as an Eagle in place of the injured Michael Vick, completed seven of nine passes for 67 yards on that final drive, and five different players converted a total of six third downs as the Eagles won for the fifth consecutive time over the Giants in East Rutherford and kept their faint playoff hopes alive for at least another week.

We just knew we had to dig deep and put the ball in the end zone, Cooper said. Im so proud of all of these guys.

Maybe 4-6 doesnt sound very good, but it sure beats being 3-7 with nothing to play for. The Eagles are now two games behind both the Giants, who they split with, and the Cowboys, who they beat once and play again on Christmas Eve.

We had to finish the game out, said McCoy, who put the game away with a 60-yard run with a minute left. The issue this whole year has been turnovers and not finishing the game, and today we finished the game out.

It just shows you the fight we have. So much was talked about this week. Mike not playing, Jeremy Maclin was out, the 3-6 Dream Team. So many things were being said and for us as a team, it was just fighting for four quarters and doing our job and it shows a lot about the character in this locker room.

Young overcame a shaky start two interceptions in his first 13 pass attempts to pass for 258 yards and a couple touchdowns (see story).

But he was at his best on the final drive, capped by his game-winning eight-yard touchdown on a slant to Riley Cooper with 2:45 left.

We said before the drive, were not walking off the field losing this game, said tight end Clay Harbor, who converted a third-and-three with a six-yard catch on the game-winning drive. We wanted to take over the game, and thats what we did.

That last drive, it shows how deep we are as a team and how many different guys can make big plays for us. In those situations, its clutch. Everything is amplified, its all pressure situations, converting third downs in the fourth quarter. It was now or never and everybody out just went out and did their job.

Ronnie Brown converted a third-and-three with a six-yard run, Young hit Cooper for 18 yards on the next third down, Young converted a third-and-one with a one-yard run on a keeper, and DeSean Jackson broke out of a tackle at the right sideline to convert another one.

Last week, the Eagles converted three third downs the whole game. On Sunday night, they converted six on one remarkable game-winning drive.

Thats just the potential of this offense when were not committing mistakes and turnovers, Brown said. Thats what were capable of doing. The Giants are a great team, but when we execute we can move the ball methodically on anybody, and that last drive was an indication of that.

Theres a lot of athletes on this team and a lot of guys capable of making big plays, and that last drive definitely showed that.

Youngs game-winning TD to Cooper was his first fourth-quarter game-winning touchdown pass since Nov. 29, 2009, when his 10-yard TD to Kenny Britt gave the Titans a 20-17 win over the Cards at LP Field in Nashville.

It came on a third-and-eight on a typically aggressive play call by Mornhinweg.

You have to be aggressive, Mornhinweg said. You just have to in this league. This other quarterback (Manning), now, hes been really hot in the fourth quarter and I wanted to run it twice and then make them use their timeouts, which we accomplished, and then on third down, you have to go for it and be aggressive.

You have to go for it in this league. Over the long run, it pays off. Now, it hadnt for us a few times this year, but it worked tonight.

Cooper, making his first start in a meaningful NFL game, caught five passes for 75 yards all in the second half.

I think he has a lot of confidence in me, and Im glad he does, Cooper said. He kept coming to me, kept putting the ball up for me to make a play and go up and get it, and that means a lot.

Alex Henerys 33-yard field goal and Youngs TD pass to Smith gave the Eagles a 10-0 lead before Lawrence Tynes hit a 48-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

The score stayed 10-3 until Mannings touchdown to Cruz, who surpassed 100 yards for the second time this year against the Eagles.

But this time, the Eagles answered. And after the Giants drove down to the Eagles 21 moments after Coopers TD, Jason Babin stripped Manning, Derek Landri recovered, and the Eagles had a win in their first game this year as an underdog.

Its definitely special to come here and beat the Giants, said Jackson, whose last-second 65-yard punt return gave the Eagles a 38-31 win here last year.

Theyre a great team theyre 6-3, pretty good record. Its just something about New York that were able to come here and put a show on in front of their fans. The energy that their fans give our team just speaks for itself. Were able to come out there and just do great things.

Jackson overcame a taunting penalty that cost him a 50-yard reception with a 51-yard punt return (see story) to set up Smiths TD and six catches for 88 yards.

McCoy, held to 53 yards on 22 carries in the games first 58 minutes, finished with 113 yards and surpassed 1,000 for a second straight season.

Defensively, the Eagles were terrific, limiting the Giants to 29 yards on 17 rushing plays and holding the NFLs No. 11 offense to just 10 points. Manning threw for 264 yards but was just 18 for 35 with two turnovers the Babin fumble and a Jamar Chaney interception.

It feels good to win, McCoy said. We take it for granted here, because we always win. This years been tough for us. We need to get used to this feeling. Its a good feeling to have.
E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

NBA draft profile: F Brandon Ingram


NBA draft profile: F Brandon Ingram

Brandon Ingram

Position: Forward

Height: 6-9

Weight: 196

School: Duke

For months, Ben Simmons seemed to be a lock for the No. 1 pick. There was little competition for the LSU forward, who had been highly touted for years. Then came Brandon Ingram. The long, lanky forward emerged during his freshman (and only) season at Duke to make the top selection a legitimate two-player debate.

Ingram averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 34.6 minutes per game. He scored 20 points or more in each of the fourth-ranked Blue Devils’ tournament games before they were eliminated in the Sweet 16.

Here’s the biggest intrigue with Ingram: He’s only 18 years old. After coming on this strong as a freshman, his potential is one of his largest draws.

The Sixers met with Ingram at the draft combine and have attended a private workout held by his agency.

Ingram set himself apart with his ability to shoot. He made 41.0 percent from three (80 of 195), an impressive mark for a player his size. Ingram also shot 44.2 percent from the field. He doesn’t rely on his outside game, attacking the basket as well to create a versatile offensive package.

Ingram’s length allows him to get his hands on the ball all over the court. With a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Ingram can fight over opponents for rebounds and loose balls. On the defensive end, his size creates mismatches, including on the perimeter. As bigs expand their shots away from the basket, Ingram can chase his opponents out to the wing. 

His 2.0 assists per game don’t tell the whole story of his passing abilities. Ingram has a high basketball IQ and sees the floor to create for his teammates.

Ingram has to develop an NBA body. Playing his position at less than 200 pounds, he will get bounced around by other bigs. By putting on muscle, he will be able to play tougher defense at the basket.

Ingram can improve his all-around defensive skillset. He has shown he can rebound, but his overall consistency and intensity stands to be amped up in the pros.

Ingram can also improve his free throws after shooting 68.2 percent from the line at Duke.

How he'd fit with the Sixers
The Sixers don’t have a consistent go-to scoring option. Ingram could fulfill that role as the top offensive weapon. Being only 18, he would be part of the Sixers’ young foundation they could develop over time. His athleticism would help facilitate an uptempo system that maximizes their youth to get up and down the court. Brett Brown emphasizes his desire for two-way players and Ingram could contribute on both ends.

NBA comparison
Ingram has been compared to Kevin Durant. Think long and lanky for the position with the offensive skills to be a scoring threat. Ingram also has been likened to Tayshaun Prince, who had a decent NBA career but wasn't an MVP candidate like Durant.

Draft projection
Ingram is in the mix for being the No. 1 pick. If the Sixers go with Simmons at the top spot, expect the Lakers to take Ingram at two.

Cody Asche: 'I'm close' to being ready to rejoin Phillies


Cody Asche: 'I'm close' to being ready to rejoin Phillies

READING, Pa. — The stat sheet says one thing, Cody Asche another.

“I’m close,” the Phillies’ once (and possibly future) leftfielder said after going hitless in four at-bats in a rehab assignment game for Double A Reading on Thursday morning. “I’m close, for sure.”

Asche, recovering from a strained left oblique muscle, is just 2 for 16 in four games at Reading, after going 3 for 18 in five games at Single A Clearwater.

But not to worry, he said. There are just “a couple little things” he needs to shore up at the plate, things that have led to “not-so-favorable results,” before he is ready to return to the major leagues.

“But I’m confident,” he said. “They’re easy fixes.”

Asche, a little over a month away from his 26th birthday, said he feels healthy, that he just needs to get his timing back, just needs to face more “good quality pitching.”

Where he will get that opportunity is a matter of conjecture. Immediately after beating Erie, 7-4, in Thursday’s matinee, Reading headed to New Hampshire to begin a road trip. Asche was not expected to accompany the Fightin Phils. Meanwhile, Triple A Lehigh Valley begins a homestand Friday.

“I think the plan right now is maybe go up to Lehigh [Friday], but that’s still in the air,” Asche said, adding that he still must consult trainer Scott Sheridan, as well as his rehab coordinator, before a decision is finalized.

It’s not clear if the organization also believes Asche is close to returning to the big leagues. Manager Dusty Wathan was not available for comment after Thursday’s game.

Wathan did address Asche’s situation after he played his first game at Reading on Sunday.

“It’s like his spring training,” the manager told reporters. “He’s trying to get himself back, get himself comfortable in left field, get himself comfortable at the plate and back into baseball shape.”

Asche, the Phillies’ fourth-round pick in 2011, hit .252 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs in 121 games at third base in 2014. Last year he began the season at that position before making the transition to left, in the wake of Maikel Franco’s emergence. But when Franco broke a wrist late in the year, Asche returned to his natural position.

Overall he hit .245 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 129 games. Five of his homers came in his last 18 games.

“I came in to spring training as confident as anybody in myself, and building on last year and going forward this year,” he said.

But he injured his oblique (which is near the rib cage) while swinging a bat on the eve of spring drills. Then he rehabbed, returned and promptly reaggravated the injury while swinging through a pitch the final week of camp.

It only hurt when he did … well, everything.

“Imagine everything you do during the day, you feel pain in your abdomen,” he said. “Just small things, like sneezing and coughing, are uncomfortable. Getting in and out of cars.”

Nor was his anguish merely physical.

“We’d be here all day if I tried to explain how frustrating it is,” he said. “It’s been a long process. It’s been tiring. It’s been stressful. A lot of sleepless nights during it, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I can see it. I know I’m close. It’s just a matter of time, from here on out. Once it clicks, it will click, and I’ll be ready to go.”

Asche began swinging a bat on May 1, and started his rehab assignment at Clearwater on May 13. He made the move to Reading nine days later.

“I’m kind of over the frustration part,” he said. “I had eight weeks to be frustrated while I was rehabbing. Right now I’m just solely focused on playing baseball, and preparing myself to go up there and compete when it’s my time.”

The Phillies could use him, to add punch to the anemic corner outfield spots. And he believes he can help. 

“There’s still plenty of time,” he said. “We’ve still got a long season left. It’s not even June yet. I’ve got plenty of time to leave my mark on this year.”

Report: Rockets to hire Sixers associate coach Mike D'Antoni


Report: Rockets to hire Sixers associate coach Mike D'Antoni

The Sixers are losing a top assistant coach just five months after he joined the team. 

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo's The Vertical, the Houston Rockets are finalizing a deal to hire Mike D'Antoni as their head coach. According to Wojnarowski, the deal is for four years, with a team option in the final year.  

D'Antoni had been a Sixers associate coach since last December, when the team hired him after starting the season with a 1-26 record. 

While he took a supporting role in Philadelphia, D'Antoni has 12 years of NBA head coaching experience with the Nuggets, Suns (where he worked with Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo and special advisor Jerry Colangelo) and, most recently, the Lakers. The 2013-14 Lakers went 27-55 under D'Antoni. 

D’Antoni is 455-426 as a head coach. He won the 2004-05 NBA Coach of the Year Award with the Suns. He also was an assistant coach for gold-winning Team USA men’s national teams.

Rockets interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff withdrew himself from consideration for the job earlier this month, and D’Antoni has been considered a top candidate for the position. The Rockets have had four coaches in the past 10 seasons, including Jeff Van Gundy, Rick Adelman, Kevin McHale and Bickerstaff.

The Rockets finished eighth in the Western Conference this season with a 41-41 record. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Warriors, 4-1. 

Earlier in the week, Wojnarowski reported P.J. Carlesimo could take D'Antoni's place. 

Carlesimo, 66, and Sixers head coach Brett Brown were both assistant coaches under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs from 2002-07. Carlesimo also has previous head coaching experience with the Blazers, Warriors and Sonics/Thunder. 

CSNPhilly.com's Dave Zangaro contributed to this story.