The tough battle against the Giants wasn’t a surprise to this young Eagles football team. They had seen their defense pummel other opposing quarterbacks, so the Eagles defense knew they needed to step up their game against the New York offense.
With the offense struggling to get something going against the tough Giants defense in the first quarter, the Eagles defense was holding their own against the Giants offense.
They were especially aggressive against the New York running game. Big defensive tackle Antonio Dixon was clogging things up inside and all the Birds linebackers, Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims and Moise Fokou were attacking the blocking schemes and making plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
Head coach Andy Reid knows how important Dixon is in the middle of that defense. The head coach knows that the run defense starts up front and it starts in the middle, so Reid made it a point to single Dixon out after the game.
“He’s a big, strong, physical player”, Reid said. “It’s important to have somebody in the middle like that.”
Rookie defensive end Brandon Graham did a good job of playing aggressively and he pulled the football out of Ahmad Bradshaw’s hands to cause a fumble and set up a score.
“We go over it in practice all the time, working on turnover drills, and that was my first time ever trying to go for it. I’m 1-for-1″, the rookie said last night.”
Veteran Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel knew that stopping that tough Giants running game was the first objective.
“If you stop their running in the beginning, you make them one-dimensional and that’s the most important thing. We pretty much did that for the most part. I think they had 202 total yards so it was a good job by the defensive linemen.”
After the Birds did the job shutting down the run, Samuel was showed why he’s such a great ball hawk. The cornerback, who had picked off two Peyton Manning passes a couple of weeks ago, did the same to Peyton’s little brother, Eli.
“It was awesome for me. I know they’re competitors”, Samuel said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for those guys. They’re Pro-Bowlers, Hall of Famers, one of them and one making his way, so it’s a lot of respect. We’re going to compete; we’re going to play them again so it’s another chance to compete.”
The former Patriot cornerback was involved in two of the most interesting plays of the game. He was called for a helmet to helmet hit but thought it was the wrong call.
He also picked off a pass at the end of the fourth quarter which would have wrapped up the game, but he was hit and fumbled it back to the Giants.
“That was the worst feeling ever”, Samuel said. “That was the first time I ever did that. And I can’t do that anymore. When the defense gets the ball, we’ve got to keep it. That could have been deadly for the game.’
Sean McDermott and the veterans on the defense had this group fired up to match the Giants defense because he knew they couldn’t count on the same offensive explosion which put all those points on the board against the Redskins.
“Vick can’t go out there and put 60 points up every game, 300 yards and six touchdowns”, Samuel told reporters last night. “That’s just not going to happen so it’s a team thing. The defense stepped up tonight and we’ve got to continue to do that.”