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So what happens when you match up an injury-plagued New York Giants team with a self proclaimed Eagles dream team playing in Philadelphia? Eli Manning throws for four touchdowns and no interceptions as the Giants defense sideline Michael Vick with a fractured hand in a 29-16 victory.
Jumping to an early 14-0 lead, the Giants looked like the dream team out of the two in the first quarter. With a well drawn-out play action pass that drew the entire defense to the opposite side of the field, Manning hit a wide-open Brandon Jacobs for the first touchdown following a Vick interception. Victor Cruz… that’s right… Victor Cruz, followed suit with his own first quarter touchdown, breaking tackles as he ran down the sideline.
Nightmares from the last matchup between the Eagles and Giants still lingered and everyone knew the game was far from over at that point. The Eagles game rushing back behind the explosiveness of LeSean McCoy, who ended up rushing for 128 yards against a tough Giants rush defense. The Giants’ 14-point lead quickly disappeared by halftime and the Eagles went off to an early lead in the third quarter.
The big difference after that was that the Giants were the team to finish this game, something coach Tom Coughlin has stressed this season. With Ahmad Bradshaw spreading out the field, Manning threw for two more touchdowns, highlighted by Victor Cruz’s second touchdown catch of the day, outfighting prized free agent, Nnamdi Asomugha and Jarrad Page in double coverage.
Vick, after a shaky start, made some very good throws down the stretch but was eventually sidelined with a fractured hand. Mike Kafka came in to head the Philadelphia offense but was unable to put any points on the board to finish the game.
Although the Giants did not run the ball the way they would have liked to against the Eagles, Ahmad Bradshaw ran the ball well enough to make the passing game easier for Manning and company. Respecting the threat of the Giants run game and underestimating a no-name wide receiver like Victor Cruz, Manning saw a lot of one on one coverage and openings down the field, that he managed to expose for the much needed victory.
When the Giants run the ball effectively and Manning doesn’t turn over the ball, their offense is as good as any. And with their injured wide receiver set, the importance of running the ball well is even greater. Don’t expect Victor Cruz to repeat his 110 receiving yards and 2-touchdown performance but expect solid outings if the Giants running game keeps defenses off balance.
The “Dream Team” however, is nowhere near reaching the expectations it set for itself this offseason. Vick has been battered and is no longer the playmaker he was last season. He no longer plays the pass rush option, which makes him such a lethal weapon. LeSean McCoy looks like one of the best running backs in the league, but without an offense around him, the dream will quickly become a nightmare in Philly.
This victory was huge for the Giants in many ways. They ended their losing streak against Philadelphia, got some revenge for last year’s collapse, and most importantly defeated a division rival on the road. Maybe all these injuries won’t mark an early end to the Giants’ season. They always seem to succeed when they come in as the underdog after all.