New York escaped with its third win in its last four trips to Lincoln Financial Field when Eagles kicker David Akers had plenty of leg on his potential game-tying 57-yard field goal try, but watched in horror as the ball struck the right upright head on and bounced harmlessly to the turf.
"Akers really hit that ball well at the end and hit the post from 57 yards," a relieved Tom Coughlin said moments after the game.
"All I know is that dude booted the hell out of the ball," LB Antonio Pierce said. "You could hear it from the sidelines. It looked good. We were getting ready to go into overtime."
The Eagles were guilty of horrible clock management during the game's final minute. The Birds were able to move the ball from their own 11-yard line to the Giants 39 in only three plays. However, because they only spiked the ball once, they used all but six of the game's final 53 seconds with which they had to work. Donovan McNabb's 13-yard sideline pass to Reggie Brown left Philly with the option to run one more play sans timeouts or try a lengthy field goal with six seconds to play. Eagles coach Andy Reid opted to play it safe and kick the ball.
The snap and hold were perfect and Akers drilled a low liner that had plenty of distance, before bouncing back about halfway up the right upright.
Before the kick, rookie Craig Dahl admitted, "I just prayed."
Apparently it worked.
Pierce was clearly enjoying revenge for New York's 2005 trip to the Linc when the scoreboard operator showed clips of former Giants kicker Jay Feely missing three field goals from an earlier game in Seattle.
"It's funny, they always like to put our kicker's face on the jumbotron, maybe they should put his face on there, because our guy made it and their guy missed," Pierce said. "All that matters is that the ball bounced our way. You can call it whatever you want; just call it a victory."
AP's pass D
On the Eagles' second-to-last drive of the game and the first play after the 2:00 warning, Big Blue stopped Philly on a fourth-and-six play from the New York 44-yard line. Donovan McNabb's short pass over the middle was broken up by Antonio Pierce, who appeared to hit intended receiver Jason Avant early.
"He hit me and then the ball came," Avant explained afterward. "That's what happened. No excuses or anything like that. That play was huge."
Pierce, of course, wasn't admitting anything.
"I really don't care," he said. "It didn't get called. It's irrelevant. It's like one of those plays like Franco Harris' (Immaculate Reception) catch. ‘Did he catch it or not?' We got the win and that's all that matters."
Of course, Philly would get one final crack but Big Blue dodged the Eagles' final bullet when Akers' kick banged off the upright.
Coming into the game, New York knew it could lock up a playoff spot with a victory and help from five other games. They got some, but not all, of what they needed.
The victorious Giants received the necessary losses from Carolina, Detroit and Arizona. However, Minnesota won in San Francisco and New Orleans was scheduled to play Monday night against the Falcons. Needless to say, a victory next week at home over Washington will officially put Big Blue in the playoffs. Extra needless to say was the fact that Coughlin wasn't putting the Giants' playoff cart before the horse.
"Well, all I am going to talk about is that we continue to play them one at a time," he said. "This is the fourth phase of our season. It is the home stretch, if you will. It is the thing you work so hard for all year is to have big games and we are certainly in them."
Inside the numbers
Brandon Jacobs averaged only 3.2 yards per carry, gaining 70 yards on 22 carries…
Eli Manning's QB rating was 88.0, as he completed 17-of-31 passes for 219 yards, one TD and no INTs…
Three of Jeff Feagles' six punts were downed inside the Philly 20-yard line…
Congrats to New York's third-round pick, Jay Alford. The former Penn Stater tracked down Eagles QB Donovan McNabb in the fourth quarter to record his first career sack…
Reggie Torbor played well, making six tackles, in his second start at SLB in place of injured Mathias Kiwanuka.
Pierce is a go
The Giants finally received good news on the injury front when Antonio Pierce was able to play in Philadelphia. He only posted three tackles, but broke up two passes, including the aforementioned huge PD late in the fourth quarter.
"I did what I needed to do to play in this game," Pierce said. "It's hard to look your teammates in the eye and tell them you aren't playing. I play for those 11 guys and that's all that matters to me."
When asked how he played through the pain, Pierce smiled before answering: "A lot of special help. A lot of little medicine."
"He is a warrior," Coughlin said. "If he can go, he is going."
However, New York was without its two starting safeties – Gibril Wilson and James Butler – and, as usual, rookie WR Steve Smith. The rest of Big Blue's inactives were newly-signed RB Danny Ware, OT Adam Koets, G Kevin Boothe and DT Russell Davis. Jared Lorenzen was the club's third quarterback.
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