By Peter Gleason
Giants quarterback Eli Manning is approaching this Sunday’s NFC East showdown with the Eagles at MetLife Stadium with mixed memories:
Like overcoming a 17-point deficit on the road and finding Plaxico Burress for a 31-yard game-winning touchdown in overtime in 2006.
But the Giants having lost 13 of their last 16 meetings with the Eagles, including four straight heading into Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium with both teams toting 4-3 records.
“I can’t remember when we beat the Eagles the last time,” Jerry Reese said Monday.
it was fitting that the general manager had forgotten the Giants’ last victory over the Eagles, coming on Oct. 27, 2013, in Philly, 15-7 on five field goals by Josh Brown.
In that game, Peyton Hillis was the Giants’ leading rusher. Terrell Thomas was the team’s leading tackler and one of four Giants — joining Antrel Rolle, Linval Joseph and Mathias Kiwanuka — to sack Eagles quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Michael Vick. Odell Beckham Jr. was still at LSU.
However, the Giants had lost six straight games to start the season, which would end without a postseason berth, like each of the past four seasons. Now, in the midst of a crowded divisional and wild-card race, the outcome means even more than the rivalry.
“Obviously all the division games are huge, and I have been around long enough to know that once you get into November and December, they are all big games,” Manning said. “It is all going to get tight in the division, so these are big games and we are going to go out there and play well.
“The starting point [is] to make sure you get to the playoffs. We got a divisional game at home and we have to take advantage of that.”
With an extra week to prepare, coach Ben McAdoo believed the time spent self-scouting and re-evaluating all facets of the team will be instrumental.
Looking ahead, the coach hasn’t seen anything change about what the season can still be.
“We’re a 4-3 team right now and all of our goals are sitting in front of us,” McAdoo said. “I think we have a variety of areas we can grow in and improve in. I think we’re just scratching the surface. We haven’t performed as well as we’d like to perform. Everything is correctable.”
Everything isn’t broken, though. In addition to being well-rested, the Giants enter Sunday’s matchup with two straight wins, while the Eagles have lost three of their four past games.
“We just got to pick up where we left off,” rookie receiver Sterling Shepard said. “I feel like we had some good things going. We were on a roll, so we got to continue to do the things that we did to get those wins.”
Even with momentum, getting those wins against the Eagles is never easy.
“We always seem to have a lot of tight games against the Eagles and some big games against them, so you always know you are going to get a tough opponent, a physical team, so I am looking forward to this matchup,” Manning said. “Obviously we don’t feel like we have played our best football yet, but we are still finding ways to win football games and that is what you have to do in this league. It is not always going to be pretty and perfect, but as a team, finding ways to make plays throughout the course of games to put yourself in a position to win.”