2017 was a magical yard for the Philadelphia Eagles. They would finally reach the zenith of NFL heights with their first Super Bowl victory and first NFL Championship in 57 years. But that doesn’t mean the road to the top was and easy one. There would be some tight games along the way, such as their Week 15 matchup with the 2-11 New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants were going nowhere and had fired their head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese two weeks before. Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo reinstalled Eli Manning as the starting quarterback and the Giants were ready to give the Eagles a run for their money.
On a 35-degree day in Northern New Jersey, the Giants did just that. They scored first and jumped out to an early second quarter 20-7 lead on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Then the Eagles exerted their dominance by scoring back-to-back touchdowns on passes from Nick Foles to tight ends Zach Ertz and Trey Burton.
The Giants would take back the lead before halftime, 23-21, on a 28-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas.
In the second half, the Eagles’ defense tighten up and shut the Giants down while their offense opened up a 31-23 lead. New York would inch closer when Eli Manning found wide receiver Tavarres King on a 57-yard touchdown strike with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But that would be as close as the Giants would come to the eventual champs. The Eagles added another field goal in the final frame to ice the game, 34-29. The Giants went on two long drives in the fourth quarter but came away with nothing. Rosas had a 48-yard field goal blocked after Big Blue marched 52 yards in 10 plays to the Philly 29. Then, they gave up the ball on downs on the Eagles’ 11 after a 13-play, 69-yard drive stalled.
The Giants had given it their best shot. Manning rewarded the faithful who cried out after his benching by completing 37 of 57 passes for 434 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. For a second it looked as if Eli just might lead the Giants to another one of his classic comeback victories, which were coming fewer and further between.
“Without getting my eyes on the film or I didn’t look at stats or anything, I did think the offense came out and did a nice job,” said Sapgnuolo. “Eli (Manning) managing everything. That drive at the end was special. We all were hoping for a memorable score and a memorable game and a lot of what could have been. But, a 2-11 team beating an 11-2 on the last play would have been special. It didn’t happen.”
“I’m proud of the way the guys are competing, the no quit from the guys,” said Manning. “They work hard, they practice hard. We’re being creative, whether it’s the coaches or the players coming up with ideas, we’re being creative and doing some different things. Some are working, some aren’t, but we had some good stuff today and it’s fun when you feel like you had a great plan and some of the stuff worked and you made some plays. So, just happy the way guys are keeping their head up and competing hard.”
New York fell to 2-12 on the year while the Eagles soared to 12-2. But for one day, they were on equal footing.