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Game: New York Giants (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Date: Sunday, September 25
Time: 1:00 PM EST
Game of the Week Status
The Eagles have owned the Giants in recent years, including that impossible comeback win late last season that essentially kept their NFC East rivals out of the playoffs, but with Michael Vick dealing with the after-effects of last week’s concussion, New York could have a shot at redemption.
Somehow, it seems, the fact that the Eagles fell to the Atlanta Falcons, 35-31, in Week 2 got lost in all the hubbub over Vick’s concussion and prognosis.
After getting knocked into his own tackle Todd Herremans, Vick was forced to the sideline for good late in the third quarter, and Philly – behind third-string QB Mike Kafka – was unable to hold onto a 10-point lead entering the final frame. Big games from RB LeSean McCoy (95 rushing yards, 2 TDs) and WR Jeremy Maclin (171 receiving yards, 2 TDs) ultimately weren’t big enough.
While the loss was not especially damaging in the standings just yet, the severity of the hit Vick took to the head was damaging enough that there was legitimate initial concern over how much time he might miss and what sort of impact his absence would have on a team that was one of the preseason favorites to reach the Super Bowl after bringing in a number of high-profile stars in the offseason.
The Giants, on the other hand, came away with an unsightly, yet much-needed win, 28-16, over the St. Louis Rams in the Monday nighter. After an ugly loss to the Washington Redskins in the opener, New York was able to take advantage of a number of mistakes by the Rams that either led or contributed to each of the Giants’ touchdowns.
The two highlights of the game for the G-Men came in the second quarter, when LB Michael Boley snatched up a Sam Bradford fumble and returned it 65 yards for a TD, followed by a juggling, circus-type catch by in the end zone by WR Domenik Hixon with just 21 seconds remaining in the half that opened up the lead to 21-6. It was later revealed that Hixon tore his right ACL on the play – the second season in a row he’s done so – and is out for the year. Fellow wideout Mario Manningham also suffered a concussion in the game.
What To Expect
Eagles coach Andy Reid himself called the NFC East rivalry a “knockdown, drag-out heavyweight fight,” and CB Asante Samuel went even further, saying “It is a lot of trash talking and a lot of guys on the field that just hate each other.”
Tensions are especially high because the Eagles have beaten the Giants in six straight, the last of which was that have-to-see-it-to-believe-it comeback in Week 15 last year when Philly overcame a 31-10 deficit in the final 7:28 to win on a 65-yard punt return TD by DeSean Jackson on the game’s last play. For all intents and purposes, that game put the Eagles in the postseason, while the Giants were left to watch and wonder what if.
Word out of Philly is that Vick, who missed practice early this week while recovering from his head trauma, is officially listed as questionable for the game. But after being cleared Thursday morning to resume all football-related activities, Vick suited up Thursday and Friday, and he’s since made it known that he fully expects to play.
While both teams are banged up heading into the Eagles’ home opener, Philly appears to be getting healthier, while the Giants are doing just the opposite. Already having suffered the most season-ending injuries of any team in the NFL, New York will also be without DE Osi Umenyiora (knee), rookie CB Prince Amukamara (foot) and likely Manningham for this division battle.
With all the injuries, New York has been forced to patch together various aspects of their team, such as bringing in formerly-unemployed wideouts Brandon Stokley and Michael Clayton to give QB Eli Manning some bodies to aim for. With so much talent missing on both sides of the ball, the Giants might not have enough to stability or firepower to take down a star-studded Eagles squad.
Then again, it’s never a good idea to underestimate the revenge factor.