It’s not an accident that the Eagles looked like themselves again.
After all, they got running back LeSean McCoy involved again.
During their 27-0 thrashing of the Giants, McCoy rushed 22 times for 149 yards.
He topped his previous season-high in the second quarter, and again looked like the kind of confident back who had 2,146 yards from scrimmage last season.
It’s also perhaps not a coincidence he came back under the lights of prime time. It’s the 11th time in his last 17 games he’s gone over 100 yards rushing.
That’s the kind of balance the Eagles have to have, and have been missing through the first five weeks, despite their record. They’ve been winning despite a lot of things, but with McCoy looking like himself again, they’re going to be able to polish up many of the others.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. It was heart-wrenching watching Giants wideout Victor Cruz go down in the third quarter.
He was immediately diagnosed with a torn patellar tendon, which will be a season-ender.
It will also force the Giants to adjust without their top pass-catching target.
They let Hakeem Nicks walk in free agency after focusing their efforts on retaining Cruz, and now have a bunch of question marks.
Rookie Odell Beckham has shown some indications he’s ready to contribute, now that his hamstring is finally whole, but the Giants are going to be looking high and low for consistent production from Rueben Randle now, and pray that Beckham can stay on the field.
2. McCoy’s brilliance and Cruz’s injury will be the highlights, but Nick Foles continues to do mysterious things with the ball.
He’s getting away with it, as the Eagles are 5-1.
But he makes some curious decisions with the ball, and now leads the league with 10 turnovers. He’s also slipping into a lot of bad mechanical habits, with sloppy footwork that has to drive a detail-obsessed coach like Chip Kelly nuts. He looks hurried when he isn’t, and that’s so unlike what we had become accustomed to seeing from him.
It’s unfair to expect him to repeat last year, when he turned it over four times all season.
But to see him coughing it up at this rate is still alarming, and only underscores the importance of McCoy being a steady contributor.
3.With all this other stuff going on, the Eagles defense won’t get enough recognition for the way they shut the Giants down.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning had been sacked just seven times all year and three the last three weeks.
The Eagles dropped him five times in the first half alone, while holding the Giants to just 89 yards before the break. During that span, Manning only completed six passes, thanks to the pressure.
The Giants’ tackles were dreadful, with right tackle Justin Pugh having one of his worst games as a pro.
But the Eagles were able to bring pressure from multiple angles, and had the entire New York line chasing ghosts.
4. Eagles running back Darren Sproles left the field late in the third quarter, and was immediately announced as questionable to return with a left knee injury.
He was walking under his own power, but it’s still not a good sign, considering the Eagles backfield isn’t exactly deep.
Chris Polk is the only other running back behind McCoy and Sproles, and he was inactive Sunday night. Tight end Trey Burton was getting carries late in the game, well after it was decided.
That’s a position they’ll need to address, one way or another.
5. The offensive highlight of the night for the Giants didn’t even count.
Giants tight end Larry Donnell caught a thrice-tipped pass for what appeared to be a touchdown early in the third quarter, only to have it wiped out by a Will Beatty holding penalty (which might not have been a penalty).
Donnell has been a revelation for the Giants this season, with 25 catches for 236 yards and four touchdowns entering the night.
The second-year tight end was shut out against the Falcons last week, and as quiet as the rest of his teammates Sunday, but his ability to make that kind of play is a good sign for the future.
And with Cruz out, they’re going to be looking for all the options they can find.