December 25, 2023   7 MIN READ

Folly, Jolly Christmas

Birds Overcome Turnovers, Defensive Lapses To Stave Off Giants, Break 3-Game Losing Skid


PHILADELPHIA — Optimism and cheer permeated the lots of Lincoln Financial Field hours before the Eagles’ Christmas Day divisional clash with the New York Giants.

Reeling from a three-game skid, the Eagles (11-4) made enough plays to put away a dismal Giants (5-10) team, 33-25.

A 69-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Tyrod Taylor to wide receiver Darius Slayton narrowed the score late in the fourth, but the Eagles primarily remained well at-hand throughout.

The second half got off to an ominous start for the Eagles when wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus ran into kick returner Boston Scott, forcing a fumble and returning possession to the Giants at the Philadelphia 15-yard-line.

Running back Saquon Barkley punched it in from seven yards out three plays later, cutting the home lead in half, 20-10.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts tossed a third-quarter interception to cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, who returned it 76 yards for a touchdown.

A successful two-point conversion drew the Giants within two. But the Eagles seemingly took the fight out of the Giants late, courtesy of an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive – which included a 32-yard completion to wide receiver A.J. Brown – extending the lead to nine.

Unequipped to play from behind, there wasn’t much an undermanned Giants team could do to counter.

The Eagles carried a commanding 20-3 lead into the break, with Hurts accounting for 191 scrimmage yards and a pair of touchdowns. He attempted passes to eight different targets.

Conversely, the visiting Giants struggled to generate any sort of a rhythm offensively, as rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito completed only 9-of-16 pass attempts for 55 yards before being replaced by veteran Tyrod Taylor coming out of the break.

Let’s go ahead with the observations.

*Eagles inactives: CB Darius Slay, QB Tanner McKee (3rd QB), RB Rashaad Penny, LB Nicholas Morrow, LB Zach Cunningham, LG Landon Dickerson,  TE Albert Okwuegbunam.

* Morrow (abdomen) was listed as questionable coming in after missing practice last week, but was ultimately held out. The linebackers in uniform were newly acquired Shaq Leonard, rookie Ben VanSumeren, and practice squad call-up Brandon Smith. DB Tristin McCollum was the Eagles’ other practice squad elevation. In Week 4 against the Commanders, McCollum logged 20 special teams snaps.

* Officially, VanSumeren notched his first NFL start, aligning opposite Leonard. Rookie CB Kelee Ringo started at cornerback opposite James Bradberry.

* Active first series from Leonard, who knifed in to drop Giants RB Saquon Barkley for a 1-yard loss. Eagles pass rush was a factor early, as Haason Reddick bore down on Tommy DeVito to complete a hasty 3-and-out. Early in the second quarter, Leonard was credited with a sack of DeVito, his first as an Eagle.

* Britian Covey’s career long 54-yard punt return returned possession to the Eagles at the 13. Two plays later, a 1-yard plunge from QB Jalen Hurts gave the home team the early lead.

* Rookie EDGE Nolan Smith got some early looks at off-ball linebacker. Interested to see if this new development was a byproduct of circumstance or if the cross-training is a permanent wrinkle.

* Very safe, high efficiency throws from DeVito early, going 5-of-8 for 42 yards through the first two drives. The Giants rookie had a chance at a touchdown pass, but TE Darren Waller couldn’t hold on after gaining positioning on Bradberry. There were moments early where Bradberry kicked inside and Ricks came on to play outside.

* The Eagles mixed up its offensive personnel on their second possession. On a 2nd-and-10, Britain Covey came up and took a screen pass seven yards for his first NFL catch. Similar to what they did on some early drives in Seattle, the Eagles also notably used more motion than normal.

* The Eagles were fortunate that Giants LB Isaiah Simmons was unable to corral a deflection on 3rd-and-5. That likely would have resulted in an interception returned for a score.

* Good poise from Hurts after a 3rd-and-3 snap soared passed him. He was able to collect it, gather himself, and deliver a pass to TE Grant Calcaterra for an 8-yard gain.

* Big first half for Covey and the Eagles return units. Covey yielded 66 yards on three returns.

* Heads up play from Giants CB Nick McLeod on K Jake Elliott’s 28-yard field goal. TE Jack Stoll split out wide left, and McLeod alertly followed him, forcing a delay of game. P Braden Mann, Elliott’s holder, had executed a fake punt pass in Dallas.

* VanSumeren on Friday vowed he was prepared for his extended opportunity and sure looked it against the Giants, as he shot gaps and played fast. These final games are an ideal spot for VanSumeren to get his feet wet. His speed and athleticism are glaring.

* While he missed some throws in the opening frame, Hurts was much more decisive in his decision-making, perhaps most notably on the Eagles’ three-play, 52-yard second-quarter scoring drive when Hurts rifled a quick strike over the middle to WR DeVonta Smith, who eluded tacklers en route to a 36-yard touchdown, giving the Eagles a 17-3 lead.

*Bad penalty by Eagles rookie DT Jalen Carter, jumping offsides on a second quarter punt return and setting up a manageable 4th-and-1 for the Giants, who appeared dead in the water. Barkey converted, picking up 10. The conversion proved fruitless, however, as the drive stalled at the Philadelphia 21.

*Giants DC Wink Martindale is notorious for bringing pressure, even against a fleet-footed quarterback like Hurts. His approach never wavered. Through two quarters, Hurts was only sacked once and hit twice, but was often flushed from the pocket and under duress.

* Poor situational awareness from Hurts in the waning moments before intermission, staying in bounds on a scramble play to the New York 6 with less than 20 seconds remaining.

* Bizarre sequence coming out of the break. Receiving the kickoff, Boston Scott fielded the kick before the up-back, WR Olamide Zaccheaus, ran into him, forcing a fumble. The Giants recovered and score three plays later.

* Veteran Giants signal-caller Tyrod Taylor replaced an ineffective DeVito, who completed only 9-of-15 pass attempts for 55 yards.

* Rookie S Sydney Brown played fast and physically, but also too often unrestrained. Eventually that play-style can be feast-or-famine, which is exactly what happened when Brown came in late after Taylor gave himself up on a scramble, committing a personal foul.

* On a 2nd-and-20 from the New York 28, Hurts tossed an interception to CB Adoree’ Jackson, who returned it 76 yards for a touchdown. A successful Saquon Barkley plunge completed the 8-point play. Eagles TE Dallas Goedert appeared to have fallen on the play, as Hurts committed his 18th turnover of the season.

* Hurts orchestrated an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive early in the fourth that felt like it took the air out of the Giants’ sideline. The drive hardly inspired optimism due to holding and false start penalties committed by RT Lane Johnson and C Jason Kelce, which set up a 3rd-and-20. Hurts connected with WR A.J. Brown for 32 to keep the drive going and RB D’Andre Swift punched it in from five yards out to extend the lead.

* Curious to see if the Eagles find a role for TE Grant Calcaterra, who reeled in two targets for 21 yards, his first receptions of the season. Interesting to see the Eagles work him in for different personnel groupings going forward.

* Eagles were fortunate once again that Darren Waller wasn’t able to reel in a critical reception. On a 3rd-and-1, Waller got behind Ricks for what would have been a chunk play, but Waller couldn’t sync up with Taylor.

* Conversely, I didn’t see much – if any – of WR Quez Watkins. The embattled receiver was part of another ill-fated play last week in Seattle. Will have to check Tuesday’s snap counts for an accurate assessment.

* Not sure why the Giants were hesitant to pull the plug on DeVito, when it was clear he was overmatched and had an experienced arm behind him in Taylor. The insertion of Taylor gave the team a spark. It was evident on his fourth-quarter, 69-yard touchdown toss to WR Darius Slayton that he brings more to the offense.

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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