Sunday, September 30, 2007

Massacre at the Meadowlands

By Greg Wiley
The Phanatic Magazine

Osi Umenyiora recorded a franchise- record six sacks and Giants linebacker Kawika Mitchell returned a fumble for a touchdown, as New York defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 16-3.

Mathias Kiwanuka added three sacks and Justin Tuck had two more for the Giants (2-2), who tied the NFL mark for most sacks in a game with 12. Umenyiora passed the franchise's single-game record for sacks that was held by Pepper Johnson, who had 4 1/2 on November 24, 1991, and fell one short of the NFL record of seven set by former Kansas City linebacker Derrick Thomas on November 11, 1990.

Eli Manning went 14-of-26 passing for 135 yards with a touchdown and an interception for New York, which has won two straight to move to the .500 mark for the season. Plaxico Burress caught the lone offensive touchdown for New York, which had its defense step up for a second straight week.

The Giants defense, under first-year coordinator and former Eagles coach Steve Spagnuolo, has seemed to find themselves after a horrid start to the season. New York, which allowed 97 points through the first 10 quarters of the season, has responded since the second half of last week's 24-17 win over Washington.

After holding the Redskins without a point in the second half, New York held Philadelphia off the board until early in the fourth quarter of this game.

Lost in the career-game by Umenyiora, was that fellow defensive end Michael Strahan became the Giants' all-time sack leader with 133 1/2, passing Hall-of- Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor's previous mark of 132 1/2.

The Giants defense also bested the former franchise mark of nine sacks that was last accomplished on August 31, 1997 also against the Eagles at Giants Stadium.

McNabb spent most of his night scrambling. After throwing for 381 yards and four touchdowns in Week 3's 56-21 dismantling of the Detroit Lions, McNabb ended this game just 15-of-31 passing for 138 yards for the Eagles (1-3), who have dropped three of four games to fall into the basement of the NFC East.

To make matters worse, the Eagles had to play without starting running back Brian Westbrook, who missed the game because of an abdominal injury suffered against the Lions.

Correll Buckhalter started in place of Westbrook and had a solid game, running for 103 yards on 17 carries and catching four passes for 35 yards. But the absence of Westbrook was evident as the Giants pressed and pressured Philadelphia's offense without its safety valve.

Umenyiora took Eagles left tackle Winston Justice to school. Making his first-career start at left tackle, Justice was replacing injured starter William Thomas.

The Giants got the only points of the first half when Manning hit Burress with a nine-yard touchdown pass 3:51 into the second quarter.

New York later had a chance to add points, but Manning was picked off at the Philadelphia eight-yard-line by Omar Gaither, who returned it to the Giants' 43 with 1:17 left in the half.

The Eagles failed to get any points out of the drive, allowing New York to go into the locker room with the seven-point lead.

In the second half, New York won the field position battle in the early stages, as Philadelphia started its second possession on its own one-yard-line and third possession on its own four.

The Giants finally turned the field position into points when Lawrence Tynes booted a 29-yard field goal with 2:03 left in the third quarter for a 10-0 lead.

Then, the defense turned a Philadelphia miscue into a touchdown. After taking the snap, McNabb turned for a handoff to Buckhalter only to have fullback Thomas Tapeh inadvertently knock the ball out of his hands. Mitchell fell on the ball, got up before being touched down and scampered 17 yards into the end zone.

The point after attempt by Tynes hit the left upright, and New York found itself with a 16-0 lead. Tynes also missed a 34-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter.

Philadelphia finally got on the board with 12:51 left in the game when David Akers booted a 53-yard field goal, ending the Giants scoreless streak at five quarters.

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