An amazing thing happened yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles were trailing 19-3 during the first half and 19-11 at halftime. Nothing was going right. The Eagles offense was struggling and the Eagles defense wasn’t even slowing down the Saquon Barkley and the Giants offense.
At the half, the Eagles players took over the game plan by taking their cases to the respective coaches.
The Eagles offensive linemen, Jason Peters and Lane Johnson approached head coach Doug Pederson and implored him to run the football. They communicated that desire to him at halftime and they were even communicating with him up from the field as he called the plays on the sidelines. They were begging him and urging him to keep running the football. The Eagles relied on running game in the second half and were able to put together time consuming scoring drives, which kept the ball from the Giants offense.
“It feels good to lean on (the opposing defense) instead of set back and let them come into us,” Peters said. “It felt good. I appreciate (Coach Doug Pederson) for believing in us and sticking with the run.”
“It builds momentum,” Johnson said. “It helps wear the opponent down a little bit. It really just makes the game a lot easier on yourself. This is the first game I feel like we finally did what we’ve been talking about.”
“Our guys really rose to the occasion,” Pederson said. “They were coming to me (saying), ‘Keep running, keep running, keep running. They wanted it on their backs.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Malcolm Jenkins saw that the Birds defense was having all types of trouble getting lined up because the new young defensive backs weren’t able to figure out their responsibilities as the Giants ran their hurry up offense.
So what did Jenkins do? He had a talk with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. After the Giants had rolled up 346 yards in the first half, he talked him into simplifying the game plan and playing one or two coverages. With the simplified scheme, the new guys, Chandon Sullivan, Tre’Von LeBlanc, and De’Vante Bausby were able to play with confidence.
“The biggest thing was just being able to settle down and get to a place where we could play fast,” Jenkins said. “So from a players’ standpoint, we have to be able to break a huddle, get lined up, see them coming out of the huddle. And then from a call standpoint, you know from our coaches and everything, you needed something that we could just not have to think about, not have to communicate, just line up and play. And then I think once we started getting to that, figuring out what those calls were, guys could execute better at a high level. Obviously that momentum started changing.”
The Eagles defense was able to get their act together in the second half after giving up 346 yards of offense in the first half. They only allowed 56 yards in the second half, that’s 346 down to 56. That was the difference in the game and that’s why the Eagles are still alive for the playoffs. They came back from the dead because they were done in the first half. If they continue on to the playoffs, we will remember this win and how the players took over to figure out a way to win.