While the New York Jets looked like they were searching for a new identity on Sunday, the Eagles took the opportunity to show their own personality, and it was encouraging.
Honoring the New York Titans of 1960-62, the Jets wore navy and gold uniforms in a game where Philadelphia managed only one touchdown drive but held on to win in a gutsy performance at Giants stadium by a score of 16-9.
“We have a personality, we just need to continue to develop it,” Brian Westbrook said after the game. “Our personality shows when we win a football game.”
Philadelphia (2-3) came off of a bye week and returned Westbrook, L.J. Smith, and William Thomas to the starting line up. Westbrook continued to show why he is so important to the Eagles offense, rushing for 120 yards on 20 carries and catching six passes for 36 yards. Their first drive of the game was a flash back to the explosive offense of week two against Detroit, as Kevin Curtis caught a pass and broke two tackles en route to a 75 yard touchdown.
But after that play, something seemed to be missing from Philadelphia's attack when it mattered. The Eagles had to settle for five field goal attempts, two of which David Akers missed, and could not capitalize inside the 20-yard line, coming up empty in all four trips to the red zone.
“We would have easily ended this game out earlier if we just scored touchdowns,” said Donovan McNabb, who went 22/35 for 278 yards with a touchdown and an interception. “When you play games like this, you don't want to give guys opportunities to comeback.”
But that is exactly what the struggles of the Eagles offense offered New York near the end of the game.
With just under five minutes left in the game, after a reverse to Jerricho Cotchery netted New York 14 yards, the Jets had the ball on the 13-yard-line on first and ten. The next series of plays by the Eagles defense saved the game.
Thomas Jones, who finished the game with a season high 130 yards on 24 carries, ran for 9 yards on first down before being pushed out of bounds at the 4 yard line. On second down, the Eagles defense dug deep and stopped Jones for no gain, with Trent Cole and Takeo Spikes making the tackle. The next play was a run up the middle by Chad Pennington, and he was again stopped for no gain. Spikes was again in on the tackle, along with Mike Patterson.
Facing a fourth and one, the Jets elected to go for it and lined up in a shotgun formation. Pennington, who was 11/28 for 128 yards and one interception, threw a fade pass to Laveranues Coles in the end zone and watched it sail in the air. Sticking close to Coles, Sheldon Brown positioned himself perfectly to make a play on the ball and knocked the pass away.
“I lined up in man coverage and stayed with him,” Brown said of the play. “I thought he might take a hard out but he just kind of kept going. I just backed up a bit, kind of opened up, and I was able to be right there to make a play.”
When the Eagles got the ball after the play was over, they were able to run out the clock and pick up the much needed win.