Round 1 Is Round 3 For Eagles and Giants

The only blemish on the Eagles' divisional record this season came from the New York Giants. The teams split their two meetings this season and will meet for round three Sunday at The Linc. There is a big difference to the Giants this time around.

There are those that believe the Eagles should have been 2-0 against the Giants this week. The Eagles blew a 24-7 lead at home in week two of the season, allowing the Giants to score 23 unanswered points and escape with a win. That loss was the only divisional loss of the season for the Eagles and was a much needed win for the Giants, who had lost to the Indianapolis Colts in week one. Back then, the Giants offense was being led by offensive coordinator John Hufnagel, who had all of the play calling responsibilities.

Much like the Eagles play calling duties, that's all changed.

The Eagles offense has taken on a different look since Marty Mornhinweg took over the play calling responsibilities from Andy Reid. The Giants offense was looking good in their Saturday night win over Washington, the first game with Kevin Gilbride calling the plays. "It looked like they ran the football a little bit more. [Giants offensive coordinator John] Hufnagel is a pretty good football coach and he's kind of taken the brunt of this things. But, [Giants head] coach [Tom] Coughlin, he knows what he's doing. They came out and they played pretty good," said Reid.

The change is very much like what has happened with the Eagles, who have also been adding more running plays to their offense with Mornhinweg at the helm and Jeff Garcia having taken over for Donovan McNabb.

With this being the third time that the two teams have met - and the second in three weeks - it makes for an interesting scenario. "It's tough from one point that you've got to come up with new ideas and so on. But, the other side of it is it really is going to come down to we know them and they know us and those normally lead to pretty good football games where both teams get after each other," stressed Reid. The Eagles will likely have a little more work to do, not knowing exactly which direction Gilbride will take his offense for the playoff matchup.

Whenever these two teams meet and no matter who is calling the plays, stopping Tiki Barber is a must for the Eagles to be successful. Barber, who tore up the Redskins defense has been a thorn in the Eagles' side, with the exception of their last meeting when the Birds were able to slow down Barber considerably. "He's coming off a 200 plus yard game against a pretty good defense. So, you have to be concerned with him," said Reid. "Again, you are talking about a guy that is a potential Hall of Fame player. He's that good. He's had some good games against us and we've had a couple of good games against him. Our guys will have to be real sharp and very aware of him all of the time."

Going into the last game with the Giants, the run defense was pretty much non-existent. Since then, the Birds have done a much better job at stopping the run, but Reid believes they can do even better. "We are a little bit more disciplined. I told you before it was a matter of the guys doing their job and not worrying about the guy next to them and make sure they stay in their gaps and so on. And it looks like we are doing a little better job there. We've got plenty of room to improve and we'll need to do that for this week."

Having turned around their 6-10 record from last year, Reid feels pretty good about heading back to the playoffs and having won the division for the fifth time in the last six seasons. "Maybe missing last year, when you don't have a chance to – when you're sitting there and you're not very good. Maybe you appreciate this a little bit more being in this position. I guess when we were rattling those things off back to back; maybe you took it a little bit for granted. But, after last year, I think all of the guys; they are not taking it for granted. They respect the position they are in and they are going to try to enjoy every minute of it and work very hard to maintain it."

One question that Reid had a few weeks ago has been seemingly answered. That's the question about how all of his young players would handle pressure situations. "I was a little bit worried about that coming down the stretch, but they did a pretty good job of feeding off of the veteran players which I thought was important," stressed Reid. He also knows that as the playoffs progress, the young guys will have to adapt to something else. "We all know it gets a little faster every playoff game that you play in. It's funny how the tempo picks up; they'll have to get used to that once they get in there."


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