Well, it's not very often that we'll lead our rookie report with a kicker.
But ... wow.
Rookie kicker Jake Elliott buried a 61-yard field goal as time expired to give the Eagles a 27-24 win over the Giants in the home opener at the Linc (see breakdown).
Elliott hit a pair of clutch kicks overshadowed corner Rasul Douglas snagging his first interception and running back Corey Clement getting his first score (see observations).
Let's take a look at a few of the highlights in our Week 3 rookie report.
1st quarter, 15:00 - Eagles 0, Giants 0
For the second time in three weeks, Clement made an impact on the opening kickoff. In Week 1, he made a nice special-teams tackle to pin the Redskins inside their own 20. Against the Giants, he took the opening kickoff from the goal line and took it 35 yards to set the Eagles up with nice field position.
2nd quarter, 7:59, 1st-and-10 at PHI 42 - Eagles 7, Giants 0
On this play, Eli Manning tried to go tempo, something he did often to attempt to mitigate the Eagles' pass rush. The defense does look a little out of sorts with Malcolm Jenkins scrambling to get into position. Douglas has 1-on-1 coverage on veteran Brandon Marshall. The rookie corner plays it perfectly. He runs stride for stride with Marshall and Manning throws it up for grabs. Douglas times it perfectly and snags it for his first NFL interception.
Admittedly, this was a god-awful decision by Manning, but still good on the rookie to not get flustered, know his assignment and make a play. On the replay, you can see Douglas doesn't even get his mouthpiece in. Again, great poise for a guy in his second NFL game.
2nd quarter, 1:37, 1st-and-10 at PHI 37 - Eagles 7, Giants 0
A very similar situation arises on the next series. The Giants are in the two-minute drill around the same part of the field and Douglas is once again matched up 1-on-1 against Marshall. This time, Marshall runs a five-yard hitch. Douglas reads it perfectly and is ready to make a play on the football. Unfortunately, Patrick Robinson tips the ball in the slot and it falls incomplete. You can see Douglas telling Robinson after the play that he had a pick six lined up. The rookie's swagger is starting to show.
2nd quarter:29, 3rd-and-goal at PHI 1 - Eagles 7, Giants 0
Better to be lucky than good? Douglas is lined up over the much quicker Sterling Shepard. Shepard beats Douglas off the line and Manning makes a perfect throw. Shepard catches it but then he doesn't. As he falls to the ground, he doesn't complete the process of the catch. Sure looked like a TD to me, but that's the rule. Whatever, fourth down. This is a tough matchup for Douglas against a shifty player like Shepard.
4th quarter, 14:15, 1st-and-10 at PHI 44 - Eagles 14, Giants 0
Manning throws the ball immediately to Marshall with Douglas playing soft coverage. Douglas again makes an aggressive play and drives on the football, getting Marshall down for a two-yard gain. On the next play, the Giants took advantage of the soft coverage and Manning hits Marshall on a 14-yard hitch for a first down.
4th quarter, 13:07, 1st-and-10 at PHI 28 - Eagles 14, Giants 0
Same as the previous first down play with an immediate throw to Marshall. Douglas reads it again and almost blows the play up. Instead, Douglas whiffs on the tackle and Marshall takes it for 18 yards. But this isn't a bad play by Douglas at all. Sure, he needs to make the tackle, but again, this type of aggressive play is what the Eagles saw at West Virginia and why they picked him in the third round. By this time next year, as Douglas gets more comfortable, that play might turn into a pick.
4th quarter, 10:47, 1st-and-10 at PHI 17 - Eagles 14, Giants 14
Up to this point, Clement had just three carries for three yards. But on this carry, you see what the Eagles like about him. It's a three-wide set with Zach Ertz lined up in a wing position to the left. Ertz and left guard (on this possession) Stefen Wisniewski pull to the right. Clement waits for both blockers to clear and then hits the hole with a decent burst for a seven-yard gain, his longest rush of the game, until ...
4th quarter, 5:40, 1st-and-10 at NYG 15 - Giants 21, Eagles 14
Again, another example of Clement's patience and vision. Both Wisniewski and center Jason Kelce pull to the left. Clement takes the carry off tackle to the left. Just like the previous play, he waits for his blockers and takes the ball to the edge. Once he gets to the second level, he runs through the arm tackle of safety Darian Thompson and plunges into the end zone. I was slightly surprised to see Clement get so many opportunities in the fourth quarter, but he took advantage of them.
(There was a sloppy exchange between Clement and quarterback Carson Wentz on a second-down run but the ball was held on to.)
4th quarter:56, 4th-and-7 at NYG 28 - Giants 24, Eagles 21
I won't pretend to be an expert on the kicking game, but I know Elliot making a 46-yarder to tie the game with under a minute left in the fourth quarter of his team's home opener is clutch. And for a rookie to knock this kick through? Wow.
4th quarter:01, 1st-and-10 at NYG 43 - Eagles 24, Giants 24
And you thought the last kick was clutch. You can't even quantify how special of a kick this was. Elliott's career-long at Memphis was 56 yards. He nails a 61-yarder just inside the right goal post, the longest in Eagles' history, with no time left to win it. Onions!
Elliott may have just Wally Pipp'd Caleb Sturgis. Elliott missed a 52-yarder wide left in the third quarter, but boy, did he make up for it. Elliott was an excellent — and clutch — kicker at Memphis. Good enough to warrant a fifth-round pick. The Eagles might have accidentally found a very good, young kicker (see report card).
It appeared for most of the game that Douglas shadowed Marshall, which makes sense. Douglas' length, physicality and aggressiveness are the perfect mix to slow down a player like Marshall. Douglas has shown glimpses of being a starting-caliber corner, but he'll be tested plenty as the season goes on.
Clement finished the day with six carries for 22 yards, but the Glassboro, New Jersey, native was able to record his first NFL touchdown roughly a half hour away from where he grew up. What a special moment.
First-round pick Derek Barnett didn't have much of an impact because of the Giants' game plan to get the ball out of Manning's hands as fast as possible.