Blackburn Chases Down Victory, Boss Big Night

PHILADELPHIA – Chase Blackburn might have made only one tackle in Philadelphia, but it was by far the most important. A seesaw, typically tight, Giants/Eagles contest basically came down to one play. The Eagles and Brian Westbrook couldn't beat Blackburn and his Big Blue mates.

With just under two minutes to play, the Eagles, trailing by five points, faced a fourth-and-one from their own 45-yard line. Westbrook slanted right. Blackburn sliced through the line of scrimmage and dropped the Eagles star back for no gain. The Giants ran out the remaining 1:47 and improved to 8-1.

"Chase did a good job of penetrating," Antonio Pierce said. "Chase made a hell of a play."

Blackburn admitted that he thought the play was going to go to the left side, since the Eagles often like to run behind massive RT Jon Runyan. Blackburn not only guessed correctly, but he shot the correct gap and dropped Westbrook with relative ease.

"I was able to come downhill pretty cleanly and squeeze through the gap," he recounted. "It was fourth-and-one. They were either going to get it or they weren't."

Due to New York's all-everything linebacker, the Eagles didn't get it. Actually, they didn't even come close.

After the game-deciding stop, Blackburn said he felt "exhilaration."

Even though this wasn't a typical Giants defensive effort, as Philly's 31 points would attest, they made the big play when they needed to.

"Any time you can make a fourth-down play at that time of the game, it's huge," Blackburn said.

In a city that just won a baseball championship behind an all-star named Chase, Big Blue's version helped his club take another huge step toward defending its own title.

He's the Boss

Kevin Boss had his biggest receiving game as a Giant, catching six passes for 69 yards and a touchdown.

"It felt good to get out there and contribute," he said.

Boss' one-yard TD grab on the first play of the second quarter gave New York a 17-7 lead.

"It was a great play call on the touchdown," he said. "I got jammed, but (Eli) Manning put the ball in a great spot."

Unfinished business

While the Giants opened a two-game lead in the NFC East and improved to 3-0 in its very tough division, Antonio Pierce wouldn't even entertain the notion that Big Blue was sitting pretty.

"We've got seven games left," he said. "We haven't done nothing. I don't see any asterisks by our name."

Woozy Goff

Giants rookie linebacker Jonathan Goff left the game after taking a trip to La-La Land following a collision on special teams. Eagles offensive lineman Nick Cole was nice enough to help Goff as he swayed and stumbled before Giants teammates helped him off the field. Goff left the game with a concussion and didn't return.

Lighting it up

The Giants, averaging more than 29 points per game, remain on pace to set a franchise record for points in a season. With 262 points through nine games, New York is on pace for 466 total points this season. Big Blue's all-time highest-scoring campaign came in 1963, when they posted 448 points.

Two times the kicks

For the first time this season, Tom Coughlin decided to dress both John Carney and Lawrence Tynes. The casualty was Reuben Droughns, who had served on both the return and coverage units in previous games. Tynes handled the kickoffs quite ably, while Carney, once again, successfully kicked all the field goals and PATs.

"I just felt like that gave us the best chance to win," Tom Coughlin said.

Several injured Giants were also inactive: CB Kevin Dockery, S James Butler and LB Gerris Wilkinson. The healthy scratches were RB Danny Ware, OT Adam Koets, WR Mario Manningham and DE Jerome McDougle.

Champs in the house

Two members of the World Champion Phillies were at midfield for the pregame coin toss. NLCS and World Series MVP Cole Hamels donned a number 14 A.J. Feeley jersey, while left fielder Pat Burrell sported Donovan McNabb's number five.

Close call

The Giants came a lot closer to losing defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo than they realized. No, we're not talking about last offseason, when he was courted by the Redskins. Actually New York almost never even had a chance to hire him. According to Spagnuolo, he was all set to head to Minnesota to join Brad Childress's staff before the 2006 season. However, Andy Reid, fearful that he might be losing defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to the 49ers, wasn't about to let Spags leave as well. Boy, did Reid ever do the Giants a huge favor.

"He was very honest and upfront," Spagnuolo said of Reid, "and said he couldn't do it at that time so an opportunity bypassed and luckily for me things happen for a reason when you look back at it. If I had gone to Minnesota, I wouldn't have had an opportunity to come to New York and win a Super Bowl. When you look back in hindsight, Andy did me a big favor so I am grateful to him now. At the time I was a little disappointed, but now I am very grateful."

Spagnuolo admitted that he was more than ready to become the Vikings defensive coordinator when he had the chance.

"Oh yeah, I would have liked to at that time, going back however many years it was," he said. "I was looking forward to it and then things just didn't fall into place and the timing wasn't right again because there was a chance Jim was going to leave. I took it as a great compliment that Andy wanted me to stay and be the next guy there and then true to his word, the following year he could have kept me again, but true to his word the following year he said, ‘Okay, you have the opportunity to go.' I credit Andy with the kind of guy he is and the way he handles things."

Even though Reid did the right thing, he must be agonizing over his decision. Since Spagnuolo joined the Giants, Big Blue is 3-0 against Reid's Birds, and Philly had only scored 16 points against Spags' defense in the first two matches before exploding for 31 Sunday night.


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