Photo Credit:

If it seemed as though the Eagles survived, that would be an accurate assessment.

In emerging victorious in a 34-29 slugfest over the New York Giants at Met Life Stadium in North Jersey, the Birds did much more:

  • Clinched a first round playoff bye
  • Improved to a league-best 12-2 overall record
  • Moved to within one win and one Minnesota loss of clinching home field throughout the playoffs

All that was great, but the bigger accomplishment may have been getting a positive answer to the burning question all week: how would backup quarterback Nick Foles perform as Philadelphia made its playoff push without its dynamic MVP candidate, quarterback Carson Wentz.

Wentz, the second year phenom and leading vote-getter in Pro Bowl voting, went out for the year last week with an ACL tear suffered against the Rams in Los Angeles.

Foles came off the bench and performed admirably in relief of Foles, but it remained to be seen how the free agent acquisition would fare taking control of a team that at times seemed unstoppable with Wentz at the helm.

All Foles did was complete 24 of 38 passes for 237 yards and four TDs, to four different receivers: Alshon Jeffrey, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz and Trey Burton.

“We have a lot of leaders on this team,” Foles said afterward. “We will enjoy this one tonight but we have a lot of work to do to prepare for (a Christmas night prime time matchup at home against the Oakland Raiders).”

The outcome of the game was in doubt to the very last play, and at times things looked really bleak. At one point of the second quarter, the Giants extended their lead to 20-7 on an Eli-Maning-to-Sterling Shepard 67-yard catch and run.

Things went from bad to worse on the Eagles’ next possession when coach Doug Pedersen elected to go for it on fourth down from the New York 44, only to see LaGarrette Blount get stacked up short of the first down marker and surrender the ball on downs.

But the game, which featured five lead changes, took a major turn when defensive back Ronald Darby intercepted Manning and ran the ball back to the Giants 20, and Foles capitalized on the turnover with a scoring pass to Ertz, making it 20-14 New York.

The momentum shift continued when special teamer Kamu Grugler-Hill blocked a New York punt, giving Philadelphia the ball at the Giants 18, and setting up a Foles-to-Burton TD pass to give the Eagles a 21-20 lead with two minutes left in the half. Special teams also contributed a blocked field goal and a blocked extra point.

It hardly seemed to matter when Manning drove New York down the field to regain the lead, 23-21 on a field goal just before halftime. At that point Philly was back in the game.

Jake Elliott, whose 61-yard walk-off field goal gave the Eagles their margin of victory in the last meeting of the NFC rivals, drilled a 28-yarder to put the Birds back in front to stay, 24-23.

After a much-needed defensive stop, Foles engineered a five-play, 59-yard touchdown drive capped by a 10-yard pass to Nelson Agholor, who made a spectacular catch for a 31-23 lead to close out the third quarter.

But Manning and the Giants weren’t about to roll over. Eli hooked up with Tavarress King for a 57-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion attempt, which would have tied the game, failed, keeping the scoreboard frozen at 31-29 Eagles.

Elliott closed out the scoring with a 20-yard field goal and a five point lead, meaning the Giants needed to score a TD to win. They failed to do so on their final two possessions of the game.

“There are some things we have to clean up, but the important thing is we got out of here with a win,” Pederson said.

The Eagles live to fight another day, and the Super Bowl dream remains intact, at least for another week.