Hang on Tight, It's Gonna Be a Wild Ride: Eagles Make Things Interesting Yet Again in Win Over Giants

Hang on Tight, It's Gonna Be a Wild Ride: Eagles Make Things Interesting Yet Again in Win Over Giants

You wanted convincing? You got it. The Eagles didn't beat their opponent by one point on Sunday night, as they did both the Browns and Ravens in Weeks 1 and 2. No, no, no -- they beat the Giants by two!

All kidding aside, there was progress in more aspects of the Birds' 19-17 victory over rival New York than a subtle difference on the scoreboard. They ran the ball. They protected the quarterback. Most important, they did not commit a single turnover. After they averaged four per game through the first three weeks this season, some of you may have doubled back to read the previous sentence twice.

Yet for their many steps in the right direction, the Eagles still had to take a few backwards. They were forced to settle for field goals in three out of four red zone trips. They needed to come from behind after their defense surrendered a six-point lead in the fourth quarter. Even after it appeared as though they had it sewn up when Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes missed the potential game-winning field goal, it turned out he would get to attempt it again thanks to Philadelphia's favorite son, Andy Reid.

Reid called a timeout as the ball was snapped on Tynes' 54-yard field goal try with 15 seconds remaining, fans celebrating as they watched it sail left. Tynes got another shot at it, and while the direction was true, this time he took something off of the boot.

Luckily the pigskin dropped harmlessly in the end zone to seal the W, or we would have never heard the end of that one. Despite questions about the time-honored tactic of icing the kicker, Reid's game plan surely pleased the masses otherwise. If nothing else, it put a smile on the faces of LeSean McCoy fantasy owners.

With a 7-3 lead heading out of the locker room, Reid leaned heavily on Shady. Eight of nine plays on the opening possession of the second half were runs, handing the ball to McCoy seven straight times at one point. That particular drive ended with three points when they were unable to punch it in from the goal line, but the emphasis on the ground attack down the stretch allowed the Eagles to bleed the clock, which obviously came into play in the end.

17 of McCoy's 23 carries came in the second half, as the All-Pro back gained 123 yards all told, averaging 5.3 per attempt. He added three receptions for 17 yards through the air.

Pounding the rock didn't lead to a boon on the scoreboard, but it did take some of the pressure off of Michael Vick and the offensive line. After giving the ball away nine times on his own through three games, Vick played within himself against the Giants, keeping his mistakes to a minimum -- zero turnovers, and only two sacks, one of which was a give-up to make the Giants use a timeout. If nobody was open, Vick either scrambled for whatever the defense was willing to concede, or simply threw the ball away.

It helped that the patchwork offensive line finally seemed to gel in front of the quarterback. Early on, they opened few holes for McCoy, and it seemed like it was going to be another long night of Vick scooping himself off the turf play after play. McCoy obviously got his, plus the protection was vastly improved as the game went along. For the first time in 2012, Vick spent a surprising amount of time on his feet.

Vick finished with a workmanlike line, completing 19 of 30 passes for 241 yards and a TD, along with six runs for 49. He connected on a 19-yard touchdown strike to DeSean Jackson, who was his top receiver with six catches for 99 ticks.

The Eagles' offense were not the only ones who got off to a slow start. Every drive for the first 28 minutes ended in a punt until Vick to DJacc broke the stalemate. Somehow, that was what it took for Eli Manning to get going. The Giants scored on three of their next four possessions, and would have done so on every one of them were it not for a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie interception in the end zone, his third of the season.

After DRC's pick opened the fourth quarter, the Birds settled for another field goal, pushing the tally to 16-10. Manning responded with a five-play, 83-yard march, abusing the secondary for gains of 31 and 41 yards before capping it off with a six-yard toss to little-used tight end Bear Pascoe, uncovered. Watching safeties Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen bite up on play-action on those big gainers was deflating, while DeMeco Ryans appeared to be on the hook for the touchdown. Ryans had his fingerprints on Manning's 14-yard TD to Victor Cruz in the third as well, hesitating on his zone responsibility.

But after everything was all said and done, Juan Castillo's unit held strong when it mattered most -- even if the officials tried real hard to keep the game alive. Ticky-tack pass interference penalties against DRC on 4th and 1 and Nnamdi Asomugha on 3rd and 10 extended the drive. Miraculously, the Eagles got a call back when Ramses Barden dragged Asomugha down for an offensive PI, which set up the longer field goal try for the win.

While some might continue to make a big deal out of the fact that the Eagles once again came out ahead by the slimmest of margins, this was another huge win, one in which they likely would've given away a year ago, as has been said about the others as well. Taking out the Giants is always a huge win -- the reigning world champions, mind you -- and it moves Philly's record to 3-1 for the year.

It's also become safe to say we might be witnessing a trend here with this Eagles team. They must be talented to overcome four and five turnovers in previous victories, then to limit a Super Bowl MVP quarterback to 17 points. If the month of September is any indication though, they are still quite flawed, and little will come easy for the Eagles this season. Better buckle your seat belts on and take any prescribed heart medication. If the Birds are on, you can bet the final is coming down to the wire.

Notes

• The drive to set up Alex Henery's decisive 26-yard field goal was 12-plays, 75 yards. Vick only put the ball in the air three times on that possession. By the way, Henery hit all four of his tries, including a long of 48.

• Vick appeared to have been hobbled on his give-up sack when Osi Umenyiora slid across his legs, but the quarterback brushed it off as nothing too serious during his post-game presser.

• The Giants could never establish their running game, gaining just 57 yards on the ground on 19 attempts for a 3.0 average. Perhaps in correlation, they converted only two of 10 third downs.

• Eli shook off a shaky start to hit on 24 of 42 attempts for 309 yards and two scores in large part because the pass rush vanished, finishing with zero sacks. The Birds' front four made it hard on the younger Manning at the start, but the blocking eventually settled down and gave the QB time to operate.

• The Eagles kick coverage unit was absolutely torched by rookie running back David Wilson, whose six returns averaged 36.2 yards.

• Philadelphia won time of possession 33:21 to 26:39.

Phillies respond to Mackanin's verbal spanking, beat Reds on Joseph's walk-off

Phillies respond to Mackanin's verbal spanking, beat Reds on Joseph's walk-off

BOX SCORE

It's too early to tell if the worm has turned for the Phillies, but this was certainly a step in the right direction.

The Phils, who entered the day with the worst record in the majors, pulled off a 4-3, walk-off win over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday (see Instant Replay). The Phils won it on a hit by Tommy Joseph after Aaron Altherr made a heads-up baserunning play to advance to second on a wild pitch that bounced just a few feet away from Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart.

The win was just the Phillies' sixth in the last 27 games — inching them out baseball's basement — but it was their second in the last three and both of them have been walk-off specials with Joseph delivering the winning run with a single up the middle.

"Works for me," Joseph said of his recent penchant for walk-off hits.

Works for manager Pete Mackanin, too.

On Saturday night, the Phils were beaten, 5-2, by the Reds. The Phils were held to one hit and no runs over the first eight innings by a pitcher (Tim Adleman) with an ERA of over 6.00 and after the game, Mackanin called a team meeting. The skipper was tight-lipped about the meeting, but sources say he gave the lads a verbal spanking that belied his mild-mannered personality.

Time will tell if the meeting creates lasting impact and the intensity Mackanin would like to see, but he saw a response Saturday.

"I'd like to think it did (have an impact)," Mackanin said. "I was hoping they would. They played well. They put together a few hits. The home runs were nice to see, but I would like to see us bunch four or five base hits."

For the record, Joseph did not think the meeting had a huge impact on the team. He believes the Phils are better than they have shown and did not need a manager's scolding to play better.

"No, no," he said when asked if the meeting led to more intensity. "We know what we're capable of. We have a great team in here. It's a matter of playing great as a team. We were able to show that today."

There were a lot of contributors in this win.

Cesar Hernandez, Michael Saunders and Joseph all smacked solo homers off 40-year old Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo.

Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff was not at his best, but he did manage to stop the bleeding after allowing a two-run homer in the first. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up only one more run before handing a tie game off to the bullpen.

That bullpen was outstanding, running its scoreless streak to 19 2/3 innings. Edubray Ramos, Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris combined on 3 2/3 scoreless innings to keep the game tied until Joseph could work his walk-off magic in the ninth.

But that magic started when Aaron Altherr led off the bottom of the ninth with a single off Michael Lorenzen and alertly took second on an 0-2 wild pitch that didn't bounce very far away from Barnhart. Altherr's getting into scoring position for Joseph was huge.

"Tommy Joseph has been coming up big in big situations and coming through for us," Mackanin said. "That wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Altherr coming up and advancing on that ball in the dirt. So it's a good day.

"Maybe I should have a meeting every night."

After batting just .179 with one homer and seven RBIs in April, Joseph has hit .321 (25 for 78) with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 24 games this month. He is the first Phillie with two walk-off hits in a three-game span since Juan Samuel in June 1985 and first in the majors since Starlin Castro, then of the Cubs, did it in June 2015.

"If he continues like this, he’s going to have a heck of a good year and help us win a lot of games," Mackanin said.

Joseph nearly had his career ended by a series of concussions. A month-long slump was nothing he couldn't handle.

"At the beginning of April, I didn't think I'd have an April like I did," he said. "So it was just a matter of making adjustments with (hitting coach) Matt Stairs, making sure that we stay a little more consistent with what's going on, and it's all about really sticking to the adjustments that we make."

The Phillies have not won two games in a row in exactly a month — since April 26-27.

Can they do it Sunday?

Is the worm turning for this team?

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Reds 3

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Reds 3

BOX SCORE

The Phillies rallied for a 4-3 walk-off win over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

Tommy Joseph won it with a single up the middle with no outs in the bottom of the ninth. The hit scored Aaron Altherr, who had singled and moved to second on a wild pitch.

The Phils have won just six of their last 27 games. Joseph has had a walk-off, game-winning hit in the last two wins.

In addition to Joseph, who also homered, the star of the game was the Phillies' bullpen. Four Phils' relievers combined on 3 2/3 scoreless innings after starter Jerad Eickhoff exited. The Phillies' bullpen is riding a 19 2/3-innings scoreless streak.

Starting pitching report
Eickhoff allowed eight hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings. He gave up a bunt hit and a two-run homer to the first two batters of the game but took a 3-2 lead into the sixth inning. He allowed a leadoff single and a one-out RBI double in that inning as the Reds tied the game at 3-3.

Veteran Bronson Arroyo, back in action at age 40 after recovering from surgery the last two seasons, gave up three runs — all on solo homers — over five innings.

Bullpen report
Good work by Edubray Ramos to get two outs in the sixth to strand a runner in scoring position and preserve a 3-3 tie. Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris each followed with a scoreless inning. Neris struck out dangerous Joey Votto on a splitter with a man on base to end the top of the ninth. He got the win.

Austin Brice pitched two scoreless innings for the Reds. Michael Lorenzen took the loss. He gave up two hits in the ninth. Joseph's game-winning hit came on a 97 mph heater.

At the plate
Cesar Hernandez, Michael Saunders and Joseph all clouted solo homers for the Phillies. Joseph has six homers in his last 21 games.

Zack Cozart smacked a two-run homer against Eickhoff in the first inning. The Reds tied the game on a one-out double by Scooter Gennett in the sixth.

Remembering Bunning
Jim Bunning died Friday night. Larry Bowa recalled the impact that the Hall of Famer had on his career (see story).

Up next
The series concludes Sunday afternoon. Zach Eflin (0-2, 5.36) and Scott Feldman (3-4, 3.99) are the pitchers.