Strong Line Play Keys Eagles 27-0 Victory

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

LeSean McCoy was finally given some holes to run through in the ground game Sunday night.

I bet it was a quiet trip home back up I-95. The Giants had plenty to say leading up to the Week 6 meeting with the Eagles, but the all-black Birds came out Sunday night, and not only silenced their division rivals, but many of their critics in the process. Philadelphia dominated the action from start to finish en route to their first shutout against the Giants way back in December of 1996. Back then, the Eagles were still playing at the Vet and I was probably having a nerf football catch with my dad in our living room between plays. If you want to put Sunday night’s performance in an even broader historical perspective:

To put that stat in context, Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie wasn’t even alive the last time his team played that well against the Giants.

As is so often the case, it was the work done in the trenches which ultimately decided this contest. First looking at the Eagles defense (it was a shutout after all), the team’s pass rush was going up against a Giants offensive line which had performed well thus far on the year. Coming into the game, the Giants were 11th in the NFL in adjusted sack rate, only allowing 7 sacks through 5 games. The Eagles more than doubled that total over 60 minutes, as they recorded 8 sacks 6 of which were of Eli Manning while the game was still in question. In particular, Connor Barwin terrorized the Giants in their own backfield, leading the team with 3 sacks. including three from Connor Barwin. It wasn’t just the times Manning was brought down that affected the game, though:

By night’s end, those numbers were 15-of-31 dropbacks for a total of 4 yards, which was tied for the second-highest rate for anyone in a game this season. People will likely blame Eli for the Giants’ offensive woes because he’s an easy topic for ridicule, between the younger brother complex storyline and his infamous sourpuss ‘Eli face’, but he never really had a chance in this one. It’s tough to march an offense up and down the field when literally every other play Connor Barwin and company are barreling in on you.

Not to be outdone, the Eagles offensive line also pulled their weight in the victory.

McCoy finished with a season-high 149 yards on just 22 carries, and as the stat above helps illustrate, many of those yards came via huge holes created by the big boys up front. The Giants opted for a two-high safety look for much of the game, eschewing the strategy of stacking the box against the run Eagles opponents have employed all season. That decision did not pay dividends against an Eagles offensive line that has now had 2 weeks to work together as a unit since Lane Johnson returned from suspension. Despite still being down two starters, the offensive line looked extremely cohesive and helped return the balance to the Eagles offense that Chip Kelly craves.

Their were but two dark clouds around what was an otherwise overwhelming successful Eagles win. First, Nick Foles now leads the NFL with 10 turnovers (7 picks, 3 fumbles), after throwing two interceptions last night. Both throws were poor decisions along the right sideline that had no business being thrown. Sure, the Eagles are 5-1, but this lack of awareness by Foles will come back to bite the Eagles in a big spot if allowed to continue. Finally, Darren Sproles suffered a knee injury late in the contest, which would be a huge loss for both the offense and a punt return unit revitalized by the electric running back. Fortunately, the Eagles have an upcoming bye for him to rest up and he didn’t look too seriously injured later on:

Update: Sproles will be heading for an MRI on the knee Monday.

Hopefully, Sproles is alright; after Sunday night, we know the Eagles are.

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