Despite the obvious overall lack of quality within this year’s edition of the NFC East, the NFL’s weakest division has once again provided some of the most intriguing storylines from Week 8, not surprising considering that halfway through the season there remains no clear-cut leader.
After an extremely concerning 0-6 start to the regular season, the New York Giants (2-6) won their second straight game on Sunday, defeating the Eagles in Philadelphia with a combination of some mistake-free football from Eli Manning, and the mighty leg of kicker Josh Brown who scored all of the team’s 15 points.
“Good to win in our division. It’s not always pretty but nevertheless our defense played superbly,” coach Tom Coughlin said.
Besides reassuring their fan base that all is not yet lost this season, the Giants have also won their way back into the divisional race and now trail the first-place Dallas Cowboys by just two games.
Heading into their bye week, New York’s defense hasn’t allowed a single touchdown in the last 10 quarters, and somewhat unbelievably, have held running backs LeSean McCoy (2x), Matt Forte, and Adrian Peterson, to a combined total of only 189 yards on 67 carries over the past four games.
More importantly, Manning hasn’t thrown an interception in the past two games after throwing a total of 15 during the Giants’ first six contests.
In Philadelphia however, the mood is much different after their loss to the Giants on Sunday.
To begin with, starting quarterback Michael Vick was forced to leave yesterday’s game after he seemed to aggravate his nagging hamstring injury, leaving rookie pivot Matt Barkley to run the struggling Eagles’ offense.
Unable to muster anything of substance against the Giants’ defense, Philadelphia finished the day with just 201 yards of total offense, the second-straight game in which they have failed to surpass the 300-yard mark.
Through their first six games under head coach Chip Kelly, the Eagles had totaled a minimum of 425 yards of total offense in each contest, giving hope to those who believed that Kelly’s high-octane approach was the way to go.
For dedicated Cowboy fans, yesterday’s 31-30 loss in Detroit was tough to watch, especially considering that Dallas (4-4) led for most of the game, including a 27-24 edge with under 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
But it was not to be. Lions’ starting quarterback Matt Stafford fooled anyone that mattered long enough to cleverly leap towards the line of scrimmage with his arms extended, breaking the plane with the football before landing on top of a pile of chaos below.
While Cowboys’ starting quarterback Tony Romo had a decent day, throwing for 206 yards and three touchdowns, it’s more likely that this game will be remembered for two things; a deflating last-second loss, and, wide receiver Dez Bryant’s emotional outbursts throughout the second half which are currently being debated at length in the sports’ media on Monday.
And finally, there are the Washington Redskins (2-5) who, just seven days removed from their biggest win of the season last week against the Chicago Bears, were dismantled by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ 45-21 on Sunday despite leading 21-7 in the third quarter.
Throwing for just 132 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, starting quarterback Robert Griffin was taken out of the game late in the fourth quarter amid speculation that he had reaggravated his knee injury. For now anyways, Griffin and the Redskins claim that the knee “feels fine,” and that the move was strictly a precaution since the game was out of reach at that point.
With a defense that currently ranks 28th in passing yards allowed (273.7 ypg), and 29th in rushing yards allowed (123.4), it should come as no real surprise that Washington has lost four of their past five games.
Even if it isn’t the quality, hard-nosed football that fans of the NFC East have become accustomed to, the final nine weeks of the regular season should at least prove to be entertaining as these four teams battle it out to decide the division winner.
This week, the Giants are on a bye, while the Redskins will host the San Diego Chargers, the Cowboys will welcome the Minnesota Vikings to town, and Philadelphia travels to Oakland to face the struggling Raiders.