Sunday’s last-second stunner of an Eagles win didn’t occur at the Meadowlands, and may not qualify as a “Miracle.” But it warrants instant status on that list of unforgettable victories over the Giants.
The thrilling nature of rookie kicker Jake Elliott’s 61-yard game winner makes the highlight reel of this rivalry. Not up there with Herm Edwards’s fumble run or Desean Jackson’s punt return – but rank it with Clyde Simmons rumbling in a blocked field goal and Vai Sikahema’s goalpost punch-out.
Long after Elliott becomes a trivia answer, we’ll toast this 92-degree September afternoon.
I don’t know what it was like watching on TV, but in the stadium you felt the energy of 70,000 fans pulling that kick through the goalposts. Then you watched Eagles players, weary after a grueling game and a weekend of justifying their politics, leap and hug like little kids awarded an extra helping of ice cream. On a polarizing weekend across the country, sports briefly became pure joy again.
I’ve always thought you could drop a Martian into Philadelphia the days after an Eagles game and he’d immediately ascertain whether they’d won or lost. This week, our residents will be smiling and strutting. CEOs and shoe-shine guys will high five. Someone may even allow your car to enter merging traffic. More than anything, the Eagles are that force that cuts across racial, economic and educational boundaries and unifies us in our pleasure or misery.
So, thank you Jake Elliott. It’s going to be a blissful week.
A cynic could look at Sunday’s 27-24 final and dismiss it as a sloppy win over an inept Giants team. He could say the Eagles blew a 14-0 lead and lucked out despite bonehead decisions by the coach. He could even say the hometown team was aided by dubious penalty calls and a slow-fingered timekeeper.
All that might be true. But there’s so much more to see here. I’ve been around sports long enough to know the psychology of blowing a lead and then coming back to win often creates great momentum moving forward. The Eagles dug their own hole Sunday. Then they climbed out.
Carson Wentz wasn’t great and a 13-second game-winning drive doesn’t make him John Elway. But it counts. As Wentz said afterwards, “A year ago, we were always coming up just one play short. One play here. One play there.”
This year looks different.
The Eagles are now 2-1 and 2-0 in the division, which is a great place to be. They rushed for 193 yards Sunday with LeGarrette Blount looking energized and rookie Corey Clement making his first splash.
Injuries may have an effect moving forward. Fletcher Cox, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles (who will miss the rest of the season with both a torn ACL and broken forearm) all left Sunday’s game. But others stepped in. Coaches always refer to “next man up,” but that’s easier said than accomplished.
“Last year we would have come up short,” Coach Doug Pederson said Monday on WIP. “We had to learn to finish. Sunday I saw the resiliency, the no-quit attitude. Because we pulled out a game like this, the hope is we’ve learned and it propels us forward.”
Enjoy the week, Eagles fans. And, yeah, let that other guy into traffic.