By Chris Murray
For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J–After taking much of the blame for blown fourth quarter leads this season, the Eagles defense finally closed the deal on a team that was looking overtake them late.
Thanks to a sack of Eli Manning and a forced fumble by Jason Babin with one-minute, 17 seconds left in the game, the Eagles ( came away with another Meadowlands Miracle with a 17-10 victory in front of a sell-out crowd at MetLife Stadium while keeping their faint playoff hopes alive for one more week. .
On the third play of the Giants final drive of the game, Manning hit wide receiver Victor Cruz for a big 47-yard gain that brought the Giants from their own 32-yard line to the Eagles 21 and in close range for what could have been the game-tying touchdown. But Babin’s forced fumble and sack of Manning on the next play closed the door on the Giants for good. The ball was recovered by Derek Landri at the Eagles 31.
“We really needed that,” Babin said. “We were a little down from the Bears game and the last game (against Arizona) and we really needed come out on Sunday night and show them what we’re all about. We don’t like it when you guys write that stuff and we don’t like to lose in the fourth quarter. The fact of the matter is that we need this to go forward because no one likes to lose and continue to lose and so when you win it gives us an emotional high that we can carry into next week.”
The Eagles carried a 10-3 lead into fourth quarter, but the Giants evened the game with 11:44 remaining on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz, who burned Eagles corner Nnamdi Asomugha the way he did the first time the two teams met back in September.
The Eagles took a 17-10 lead with 2:45 left in the game on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Vince Young to wide receiver Riley Cooper on a slant rout in the back of the end zone. The touchdown capped an 18-play, 8:51 drive.
“We have to put the ball in the end zone and take it play-by-play,” Cooper said. “We were playing small ball, we were running the ball, we were throwing the ball. We didn’t have one bomb or one big play, it was a great drive and it was a long drive.”
After struggling through three interceptions, Young, who hasn’t started an NFL game since last season, methodically drove the Birds down field 80 yard for the go ahead score. He converted six straight third down situations.
For Young, who was playing for the injured Michael Vick, it was the 13th game-winning drive of his career and as erratic as he was in the early-going, he found a way for the Eagles to win, something he has done throughout his collegiate and professional career. He is now 31-17 as a starting quarterback.
“As a quarterback, these types of things are going to happen,” Young said of his shaky start. “But I’ve been preaching and all week saying to our guys we have four quarters. And if I’m going to be preaching and said if I have a mistake, just get ready for the next series and that’s what I did.”
Eagles head coach Andy Reid said Young, who completed 23-of-36 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, just needed to get into a rhythm after not starting since last season.
“I thought his timing got better as it went on,” Reid said. “I just thought he kept firing, which is what you have to do. He had a couple of turnovers and he came right back. He didn’t flinch like the seasoned veteran that he is.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles got on the board with a 32-yard field goal by Alex Henery that capped a nine-play, 56-yard drive. The Eagles scored the only touchdown of the half on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Young to former Giants wide receiver Steve Smith to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead.
The touchdown was set up by a 51-yard punt return by DeSean Jackson, who took the ball from the Eagles 35 to the Giants 14-yard line.
“We were feeling red hot right there, DeSean made a big play,” Smith said. “It feels like a cherry on the top of the wind. Me being able to make a big play to help my team.”
The Giants got a 48-yard field goal from Lawerence Tynes to make the score 10-3 at the half.