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Where will the Eagles be in 5 weeks?
Sunday's win over the Giants, combined with the Cowboys' loss to the Broncos, has the Eagles' tied atop the NFC East standings with Dallas. (AP)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rembrandt’s signature won’t be scripted across it. But artistry for the Eagles wasn’t an objective. Not above getting back into the victory column.
Not all of the wrongs were righted in Sunday’s 36-21 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium (see Instant Replay). The Eagles are still struggling with red-zone offense, still committing penalties and still vulnerable to the deep ball.
But all that matters is this: Their three-game losing streak is ancient history, they’re unbeaten in two NFC East games, and they’re not the 2012 version of themselves.
“Yeah, I think whenever you lose three straight games, everybody gets a little bit uptight,” center Jason Kelce said. “It’s a little frustrating to say the least. Now coming back, getting a win, everybody is pretty happy.”
The Eagles still have recurring problems that will prevent them from doing more than winning once every few weeks if they can’t get them corrected. They committed eight penalties against the Giants for 88 yards and settled for some chip-shot field goals instead of punching in touchdowns in the first half, but they have fewer issues to confront today than they would have if they had lost to their winless and dysfunctional division counterparts.
Amazingly, their first win in about a month, combined with Dallas’ 51-48 shootout loss to Denver, actually propelled the Eagles into a first-place division tie with the Cowboys.
“That’s the biggest thing we could do,” receiver DeSean Jackson said, “Set ourselves up to hopefully win this division. Next week, we go to Tampa Bay. That will be a big game for us as well.
“And after that, the Dallas Cowboys come to our house. As long as we can take advantage week by week and go out there and do what we need to do to win games, that’s all that matters.”
The schedule sets up nicely for the Eagles to make their move, with winless Tampa Bay followed by home games against the Cowboys (2-3) and Giants (0-5) before a road trip against the Raiders. They don’t play a team that currently has a .500 record or better until a Nov. 10 road trip to Green Bay.
That’s more than one month from now.
“It was huge, man,” cornerback Brandon Boykin said. “Just to get right back on the winning side. Division game, so it was very important to us. It’s a testament to our team, to our coaches -- everybody fighting hard. We’ve got a lot of potential, but we’ve got to just finish.”
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Eagles’ first win since the season opener is that they did finish. They didn’t collapse and fold when it seemed like they were headed for another implosion.
The Giants -- just as desperate as the Eagles but with injuries everywhere -- somehow managed to drop 14 straight points in the third quarter and take a 22-21 lead. Eli Manning tore apart the Eagles’ secondary, tossing a pair of touchdowns to Rueben Randle. Nick Foles had moved the offense just 21 yards on his first two possessions of the second half.
The Giants had already knocked Mike Vick out of the game, their home crowd had come back from the dead, and their defense had sent an earlier message by jumping up and down on the field in between possessions.
“We felt a little disrespected,” outside linebacker Brandon Graham said. “But at the same time we took that as an opportunity to go out there and show them that we’re the ones that should be getting hyped on the field, and that’s what we did.”
That’s when the Eagles turned the tables, with Foles engineering a go-ahead field goal drive, followed by two touchdowns, a 25-yard pass to Brent Celek and 5-yarder to Jackson.
Both touchdowns came directly off Giants turnovers, with Mychal Kendricks and Boykin each picking off Eli Manning and then Cary Williams adding a third to officially send the Giants into irrelevance for the rest of the year.
“That’s something we can build on,” Graham said. “It’s good for us to go through that type of stuff to let us know what type of team we have. We already knew we had a team full of fighters, but that just proves how much everybody is out there just scrapping.”