Philly's Big Play tour de football force

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 18, 2010



Philadelphia lived up to its Cold, Hard Football Facts-fueled hype as the biggest Big Play team in football Sunday with a truly stunning 38-31 win over the Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium.
 
The Eagles trailed 31-10 in the fourth quarter before striking for four unanswered touchdowns in the final 7:30.
 
The game was locked up at 31-31 and appeared destined for overtime when New York's Matt Dodge punted the ball away with 14 seconds remaining.
 
DeSean Jackson, one in a long line of extraordinary playmakers for the Eagles, bobbled the return, but regained the ball and his composure in time to gash the middle of New York's punting team for a 65-yard game-winning TD with no time on the clock.
 
Eagles-Giants, as you probably know, was our Game of the Week on SI.com. We cited Philly's unmatched Big Play capabilities as one of the keys to the game. We expected the Giants to contain that explosive offensive much better than they did. As it turns out, we were one Big Play off target. New York did contain the Eagles for more 52 minutes and 30 seconds. But Philly just had too many weapons when it counted most.
 
The Eagles entered the game with a league-best 58 Big Plays through the first 13 games. That's an average of 4.5 Big Plays per game, for those of you keeping score at home. Then they exploded for five Big Plays in the fourth quarter alone, with a division crown and a potential first-round bye hanging in the balance. 
 
Shocked Fox announcer Joe Buck, who called the explosive turnaround by the Eagles, sounded like a man who had been studying his Cold, Hard Football Facts.
 
"DeSean Jackson is one of the few Big Play home run hitters returning punts," said Buck, as viewers at home watched Giants coach Tom Coughlin blast Dodge for sending the ball Jackson's way.
 
It was Jackson's fourth career punt return TD (his first in 2010) and the final sparkle in a dizzying display of Big Plays by the Eagles. The game-winning return all but clinched the Glamour Division crown for the Eagles (10-4) over the Giants (9-5).
 
Philadelphia sweeps the season series over New York and has won six straight games against their divisional foes. The only way the Giants can claim the division title is to win their final two games on the road (at Green Bay and at Washington) and hope the Eagles cough away their final two games, both at home, against the Vikings and Cowboys.
 
Not likely.
 
The Eagles also have a great shot right now at the No. 2 seed (and a first-round bye) in the NFC. They even have a legit shot at the No. 1 seed: remember, Philly smacked down the 11-2 Falcons, 31-17, back in Week 6 – and the Eagles won that game with Kevin Kolb at quarterback.
 
If Philly does go on to make noise in the playoffs, we'll look back at their Big Play explosion against the Giants – and their incredible four touchdowns in the final 7:30 of the game – as one of the turning points of the 2010 season.
 
Here's a look at every Big Play the Eagles produced against the Giants. You can see our most recent look at the Big Play Index right here. A complete list of what we define as Big Plays appears at the bottom of the page*.
 
First Quarter
0:22 to play – Safety Quintin Mikell intercepts Eli Manning. The pick set up Philly's first points, a 34-yard field goal by David Akers to make the score 7-3 Giants.
 
Total Big Plays for Philly – 1
 
Second Quarter
The Eagles failed to make a single Big Play.
 
Third Quarter
5:17 to play – Philly's Big Play engine started to show signs of life when Giants receiver Mario Manningham fumbled and Eagles DT Mike Patterson recovered at the New York 25. The turnover set up a short field for Philly and the team's first touchdown after more than 40 minutes of play: Vick's 8-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin made the score 24-10 Giants.
 
Amazingly Philly's stud-starred offense had yet to produce a single Big Play.
 
Total Big Plays for Philly – 2
 
Fourth Quarter
7:28 to play – The Eagles trailed 31-10 halfway through the fourth quarter and were desitned for defeat, when Michael Vick connected with tight end Brent Celek for a 65-yard score through the heart of the Giants defense. Philly suddenly had a lot of swagger after being bottled up all day, but still trailed 31-17.
 
Total Big Plays for Philly – 3
Fourth Quarter Big Plays for Philly – 1
 
7:28 to play – The desperate Eagles asked David Akers to execute an onside kick and he did so perfectly. Rookie wideout Riley Cooper pounced on the ball at the Philadelphia 43.
 
Onside kicks do not officially count as CHFF Big Plays. And we did not count it in our final calculations for this game. However, considering the importance of successful onside kicks such as this one, we might have to add them to the equation.
 
Total Big Plays for Philly – 3
Fourth Quarter Big Plays for Philly – 1
 
6:58 to play – Two plays after the onside kick, Vick scrambled 35 yards up the middle of the suddenly vulnerable  Giants defense, from New York's 44 to its 9 yard line. He ran around the left end for a 4 yard touchdown three plays later to make the score New York 31, Philly 24.
 
Total Big Plays for Philly – 4
Fourth Quarter Big Plays for Philly – 2
 
2:41 to play – Vick again exploded for a Big Play, scrambling around left end for 33 yards to move the ball from his own 12 to the 45. He tied the game with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin 90 seconds later. The score was now 31-31, with one Big Play impacting each Philly score of the fourth quarter.
 
Total Big Plays for Philly – 5
Fourth Quarter Big Plays for Philly – 3
 
0:00 to play – In the biggest play of the season's most explosive quarter of Big Plays, DeSean Jackson returned a punt 65 yards for a shocking touchdown with no time on the clock. The Eagles win, 38-31. The winning score actually counts as two Big Plays: a punt return of more than 40 yards and a non-offensive touchdown.
 
Total Big Plays for Philly – 7
Fourth Quarter Big Plays for Philly – 5
 
That's an explosive quarter of football. And the onslaught of Big Plays could not have come at a more critical point in the season: most likely rescuing the division crown and a possible first-round bye for the Eagles, the NFC's best team of the past decade.
 
The high-powered seven and a half minutes also made a Big Statement to the rest of the NFL: the 2010 Eagles might be down, but they're never out.

* The Cold, Hard Football Facts define each of the following as a Big Play: fumble recovery; interception; defensive or special teams score (return TD, safety; pass play of 40 yards or more; run play of 25 yards or more; kick return of 60 yards or more; punt return of 40 yards or more; blocked kick or punt; 50-yard-plus field goal.


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