Eagles
Giants
23 - 11 Final
  for this game

Eagles jolt Giants, advance to NFC title game

Jan 12, 2009 - 12:27 AM By Joe Rizzo PA Sportsticker Contributing Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Donovan McNabb has gone from the bench to within a whiff of his second Super Bowl in less than two months. And dethroned the reigning Super Bowl champs while he was at it.

McNabb ran for a score and threw for a touchdown Sunday and the Philadelphia Eagles' defense twice held on fourth down in the fourth quarter in a 23-11 victory over the New York Giants, ending their archrival's title defense.

McNabb completed 22-of-40 for 217 yards and two interceptions and David Akers kicked three field goals for the Eagles (11-6-1), who will visit the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday in a rematch of a Thanksgiving night blowout that Philadelphia won, 48-20.

"It's an exciting time for all of us (with) 10 years (on the team)," McNabb said. "For me, 13 for (Brian Dawkins), 13 for (Jon) Runyan, 11 for Tra (Thomas) - this is something that's storybook. Five NFC Championship (games) in 10 years for me. Everyone believes in one another."

"He's one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of McNabb. "I'm a little partial to that. I think he is the best and he's been that way for a long time."

The Arizona-Philadelphia winner goes to the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida. This is the Eagles' fifth trip to a conference title game since 1999, matching the New England Patriots for the most in that span.

"It's great to be back in the NFC Championship game," Reid said. "We'll enjoy this one for a little bit and then we've got to get our mind set for Arizona."

"Awesome. This is the fifth one to be able to play in," Akers said. "It is hard to get to one, let alone to five. That says a lot about the organization."

The Giants, despite being the No. 1 seed in the NFC, lost for the fourth time in five games to end their season. It was the first time in the divisional round in the NFC that a top seed has fallen to a No. 6 and the second time overall - and the second time this weekend, as the Baltimore Ravens knocked off the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.

New York (12-5) could not get the offense into the end zone during the competitive part of the game for the second straight time against the Eagles, who sent them sputtering in a 20-14 defeat here on December 7. In that game, the Giants scored on a blocked field goal return and did not reach the end zone until the final seconds.

"The inability to score touchdowns in the (red) zone was quite evident," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We were there enough times to get it done. But quite frankly we needed to score touchdowns to separate ourselves and it didn't happen."

McNabb's 1-yard scoring pass to tight end Brent Celek on the first play of the fourth quarter made it 20-11.

Pulled at the half the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving in a blowout loss to Baltimore, McNabb never lost the starting job and quickly rebounded in the big win over the Cardinals, helping the Eagles turn a 5-5-1 start into a potential championship season by relaxing.

"After the Baltimore game, we all talked as a team," McNabb said. "After the Cincinnati game (a 13-13 tie), guys were pressing too much and that includes myself. You saw that in the Arizona game, we're a much better team when we're loose."

"This team has done the things we needed to do to support Donovan," running back Brian Westbrook said. "I'm not sure how much of a role the benching played."

The defense, which has not allowed more than 14 points in the last six games, then stopped the Giants just short of midfield twice, with Eli Manning failing on a sneak on 4th-and-1 and Brandon Jacobs unable to break through the line on 4th-and-2 on the ensuing possession.

"That was just a great performance on fourth down," Eagles defensive end Trent Cole said. "We didn't think they'd go two times. We had one goal in mind: come out here and stop this run, as a defense, and put the pressure on."

"We're too good of an offensive line to let that happen," Giants center Shaun O'Hara said. "Regardless of how many guys they have up there, we should be able to get first downs in that scenario."

Akers broke Gary Anderson's NFL postseason record by converting a 17th straight field goal, giving the Eagles a 13-11 advantage midway through the third quarter. He added a 20-yarder later in the fourth quarter that essentially iced it.

Manning was intercepted by Quintin Mikell to thwart New York's last legitimate hope. The Super Bowl MVP finished 15-of-29 for 169 yards and two picks.

"We settled for five field goals and made three of them," Manning said. "That's not going to win games in the playoffs. You have to get touchdowns when you get down there."

The Eagles started the second half with the ball near midfield after Quintin Demps' 46-yard kickoff return, but on the second play from scrimmage, McNabb's pass was batted at the line by linebacker Chase Blackburn, went off the finger tips of right guard Nick Cole and into the hands of defensive tackle Fred Robbins, who lumbered 17 yards to the Philadelphia 33.

It set up John Carney's 36-yard field goal that gave the Giants an 11-10 edge less than two minutes into the half.

Tied for second in the NFL with 50 points scored in the final two minutes of the first half, both teams came through late in the second quarter.

Carney kicked a 34-yard field goal with 1:33 left to give the Giants an 8-7 lead, but McNabb drove the Eagles to the 7 and Akers converted from 25 yards to give the Eagles the lead at the half, 10-8.

The Giants got a safety when McNabb, under pressure from Justin Tuck in the end zone, was flagged for intentional grounding, closed the Giants within 7-5 with 12:34 left in the second quarter.

The Giants marched to the Eagles' 28 after the free kick but Carney was wide right against a stiff breeze on a 46-yard field-goal attempt.

Asante Samuel picked off Eli Manning in the first quarter and brought it back 25 yards to the 2, setting up McNabb's 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Eagles a 7-3 lead with 6:05 left in the first quarter.

Samuel might have gained a measure of personal redemption. As a member of the New England Patriots, Samuel allowed a ball to go through his hands that would have secured the Super Bowl against the Giants.

"I finally caught one of his passes," said Samuel, whose seven postseason interceptions are tied for the most among active players. "I've dropped about three of them. It couldn't have come at a better time. I'm happy."

Ahmad Bradshaw exploded for 65 yards on the opening kickoff only to be brought down by Akers, who was holding his hamstring after the tackle. It led to Carney's 22-yard field goal that gave the Giants a 3-0 lead.

The NFC East division rivals met in the playoffs for the second time in three years, with the Eagles winning 23-20 on January 7, 2007. The Giants won the first playoff meetings, in 1981 and 2000.






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  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 7 3 3 10 23
    NY GIANTS 3 5 3 0 11 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NYG - FG, JOHN CARNEY 22 YD, 5:01. Drive: 9
    plays, 31 yards in 5:01. Key plays:
    Bradshaw 65-yard kick return to
    Philadelphia 35; Jacobs 3-yard run
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    FG PHI
    DAVID AKERS 20 YD
    PHILADELPHIA 23
    NY GIANTS 11 3:58 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Eagles 23, Giants 11  4th - 3:58Jan 11 4:04 PM
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    TD PHI
    BRENT CELEK 1 YD PASS FROM DONOVAN MCNABB
    (DAVID AKERS KICK)
    PHILADELPHIA 20
    NY GIANTS 11 14:56 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Eagles 20, Giants 11  4th - 14:56Jan 11 3:38 PM


  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 7 3 3 13
    NY GIANTS 3 5 3 11 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NYG - FG, JOHN CARNEY 22 YD, 5:01. Drive: 9
    plays, 31 yards in 5:01. Key plays:
    Bradshaw 65-yard kick return to
    Philadelphia 35; Jacobs 3-yard

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    FG PHI
    DAVID AKERS 35 YD
    PHILADELPHIA 13
    NY GIANTS 11 7:45 LEFT, 3RD QTR

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    FG NYG
    JOHN CARNEY 35 YD
    PHILADELPHIA 10
    NY GIANTS 11 12:33 LEFT, 3RD QTR

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  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
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    SAFETY NYG
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  • DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
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    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 7 7
    NY GIANTS 3 3 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NYG - FG, JOHN CARNEY 22 YD, 5:01. Drive: 9
    plays, 31 yards in 5:01. Key plays:
    Bradshaw 65-yard kick return to
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    NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
    FG NYG
    JOHN CARNEY 22 YD
    PHILADELPHIA 0
    NY GIANTS 3 9:59 LEFT, 1ST QTR

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