Billy Davis: 'We took a step forward today'
Brandon Boykin came away with the Eagles' third interception of Eli Manning on Sunday when he ripped a ball away from Victor Cruz in the fourth quarter. (USA Today Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Play of the game.
Fourth quarter, Eagles up 29-21.
Eli Manning throws over the middle to Victor Cruz … complete. No wait, a diving Brandon Boykin got his arm in there to break it up.
Boykin picked it off. Picked it off?
He caught it?
Yep. Reviewed and confirmed. Interception. Eagles' ball.
How did he catch it?
“I mean it was crazy. I don’t even know man. It was all God basically,” Boykin said after the Eagles’ 36-21 win (see Instant Replay) over the hapless Giants. “I dove and initially was going to break it up. Then I was able to get my longer arm out to grip the ball. Cruz was still trying to catch it in the meantime, so that kind of allowed me more time to get a firm grip on it, and then I tried to rip it away.”
He did. And less than two minutes later, the Eagles ripped away any chances of a Giants' comeback when DeSean Jackson caught a five-yard TD -- and then mocked Cruz (see story). The Giants' leading receiver this season, Cruz was targeted a dozen times but held to five receptions for 48 yards and no touchdowns.
“There were a lot of different times that we were giving help to Victor Cruz, because he's such a high target for them, but on that play, Brandon had him on his own, and it was a phenomenal interception,” defensive coordinator Billy Davis said. “I didn't know who came up with it. First, I thought Victor had it, but then Boyk took it away. That was a great play."
Cruz said he was open on the play, but the Eagles' pressure on Eli Manning caused the ball to come out "a little fluttery," which gave Boykin time to get it.
"I've got to do a better job of trying to rip it out," Cruz said. "If I'm not going to get it, no one else gets it."
Did Cruz ever actually have it?
“He never had it,” Boykin said. “He was trying to get it. That helped me get a grip. It was one of those crazy plays.
“I was in underneath coverage, in man-to-man basically, with a safety over the top. I was responsible for any inside cut. I know he’s real shifty and does a good job of head faking. As soon as I saw him head fake outside, I just tried to keep my leverage. I saw the ball, and I just made a play.”
It was a huge play not only for the Eagles -- it was the second of their three fourth-quarter interceptions (see story) -- but also for Boykin, who had to overcome some bad luck. In a 30-second span in the third quarter, Boykin was flagged for fair catch interference -- negating a muff by Rueben Randle -- and then pass interference. The latter cost the Eagles 32 yards and set up a go-ahead TD for the Giants.
Both flags were, well … debatable.
“Personally, I felt like some of the calls didn’t go my way. They weren’t really penalties,” Boykin said. “But there’s nothing you can do about it. You’ve just got to go to the next play.”
Less than a minute before he robbed Cruz, Boykin helped force the Eagles’ first interception. He blitzed and, along with Trent Cole, appeared to get a piece of Eli Manning’s arm (Cole got more than that but the refs somehow missed it). The ball deflected off the helmet of center Jim Cordle and into the arms of Mychal Kendricks.
“Eli didn’t even see that I was going to blitz,” Boykin said. “We did a good job holding our disguise. Then he stepped up in the pocket, and I actually slipped but just tried wrap my arm around and hit his elbow and disrupt the timing.”
Boykin did more than just make plays on defense. In the first quarter, he downed a punt at the Giants’ 5. The Eagles then appeared to wrap up David Wilson for a safety, but Wilson was ruled down at the 2 because of his forward progress.
In the fourth quarter, Boykin downed a punt at the Giants’ 1, but the Eagles were flagged for three penalties and had to kick again.
“I had a matchup I felt like I could win every play,” Boykin said. “Just tried to get down there and do what I had to do.”
But his biggest play came against Cruz, which was extra satisfying considering what Boykin had heard all week.
“I looked forward to it the entire week. Everybody was asking me questions about how you stop Victor Cruz, and I’m like, ‘He’s just another receiver. I guarded Wes Welker last week.' I said, 'It’s not about what they do. It’s about what we do as a defense.' … I think everybody combined to do a great job. I think kind of late in the third and early in the fourth, we picked up our pressure a little bit, and that helped us get turnovers.”