Reid Rules: Eagles Follow Coach's Lead
But what you have to say is that Eagles coach Andy Reid has figured out his team. And he has dissected the Giants and continues to carve them into pieces.
You have to say this now about the Eagles-Giants rivalry: Reid Rules.
It is four consecutive victories and counting now in Reid vs. the Giants. He beat them in the playoffs last season in Giants Stadium. He roasted them in Philadelphia earlier this season, 40-17.
Now he brings his team into 34th and final season at old Giants Stadium, which closes after this season, and dusts the Giants once again. Dallas lost here this season. Washington, too. But the Eagles were the lone NFC East team that found a winning formula and prevented the Giants from a divisional sweep to bid this place adieu.
What a big week for Andy Reid. He got a contract extension, hung 45 points on the Giants in a victory and grabbed first place in the division with a 9-4 record.
The man who decided to keep him around, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, was beaming about his coach in the jubilant locker room afterward.
"He is such a great, excellent leader,'' Lurie said of Reid. "Never too high, too low, wants to do things the right way and carries that all throughout our building. Perspective -- he has it. He's a leader hard to come by. He's aggressive. And he is a very poised coach. You know, you hear a lot about quarterbacks being poised when things are flying around them. Andy does that as a coach.''
Here was a prime example:
When Giants receiver Domenik Hixon broke tackles on a 61-yard scoring catch with 5:12 left in the third quarter and the Eagles trailed, 31-30, the only deficit they faced in the game, what did Reid do after the play? He was in his defense's ear as it left the field.
He was telling them he expected more -- clapping, rallying them.
I think he was telling the defense, "Hey, just get ready to give me one or two more stops. Our offense? We've got this thing figured and covered. Just get ready here to give me a stop or two as we go forward to win the game. The points? Don't worry. We can score when we want to however we want to."
"Right there, Andy was saying little things to us, giving us his disappointment while encouraging us to stand up in this game,'' Eagles linebacker Akeem Jordan said. "He is like a father like that. Like a good parent who makes you feel so bad you would have preferred to just take a whipping. He's a soft voice but a strong voice.''
Bam! Reid Rules.
The Eagles' next play from scrimmage after Hixon's score was a 60-yard scoring bomb from Donovan McNabb to receiver DeSean Jackson, only 15 seconds later. With that, Philadelphia grabbed the lead again and would not relinquish it. The play was called by assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
"I call the plays, Andy never says no, but sometimes he suggests,'' Mornhinweg said. "This is the fourth place I have coached with Andy. He has a very aggressive method and mentality. I know what he wants. He is really good at getting each player and coach to understand his role and what he wants. All we do is a reflection of his leadership.''
You got the feeling on this night that, though the Eagles ran 53 offensive plays, they could have run 153 more creative, flexible and successful ones with ease.
"They always have a variety of things they like to do,'' Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. "They just made too many big plays.''
For the Eagles, those big plays included a 60-yard fumble returned for a touchdown, a 72-yard punt returned for a touchdown and that 60-yard scoring pass that answered the Giants' only lead of the game.
"They are a big-play team,'' Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "And we see them too often not to be able to make adjustments and execute the plays that are called.''
Reid is often criticized, rightly so, for his offense sometimes relying on pitch-and-catch drills without enough physical play or a running game. Though that has happened throughout his Eagles career, so has this: when he desires, Philadelphia returns to brutal NFC East football.
This game had five scores of 60 or more yards, but when push came to shove -- with the Eagles defense, after that Hixon big scoring play forcing the Giants offense to punt on consecutive possessions -- Reid went strictly old school, a yard at a time. And the result? A scoring drive early in the fourth quarter that covered 91 yards and 12 plays, lasted a little more than 9 minutes, and won it for the Eagles in a striking way.
With the game a scramble, Reid took perspective. That drive was capped by a 1-yard scoring run and made it 45-31 with 5:48 remaining. It was a lead the Giants were not going to dissolve. It meant that Reid had altered his rules just enough, gained just enough perspective to finish off the Giants.
Reid smiled when asked about this. It was a winning smile.
"Well, right there with that, you have to be proud,'' he said. "That was a long distance to keep plugging away at it like we did. It kind of slowed things down and put us in a good place.''
Most of the Eagles were already there.
Asante Samuel was. He said Reid, in the two seasons Samuels has spent with the Eagles since coming from the New England Patriots, has helped grow "this team into something special, and for me, a real feeling of being wanted, of a family.''
No need reminding Jackson.
This player was considered a risk by many coaches in the 2008 draft. This receiver was a me-guy, some personnel people said, a problem guy. But Jackson has turned into the game's most dangerous dual-threat on punt returns and long passes. He contributed 178 receiving yards and 83 more on punt returns in this victory.
"I was the seventh receiver taken in the NFL draft in 2008, the 49th player,'' Jackson recalls as if it were yesterday. "Coach Reid told me, 'I know what they are saying about you. I don't care about that. You are going to get a chance here and this is what I want and this is how I want you to do it.'
"Andy Reid, he's a smart guy. He's a coach players want to win for.''
What Reid did for Michael Vick, the chance he gave Vick, is remembered by all of the Eagles players.
"A lot of guys stood on the side and wished me well, but he jumped in there and gave me a shot, and is giving me a chance to play and help this team,'' Vick said. "When we lost to Oakland earlier in the year, he told us, 'Unless you guys have great heart, you won't be able to turn this thing around.'
"Even in the bad times, he treated us like professionals. The offense was really great tonight. I was standing there watching and listening to the calls on the sidelines and I was wishing I could be in there for certain calls. As soon as I heard them, I knew they were going to work big. You could feel it. You could tell.''
That's the feeling all around when the matchups roll your way, when the ball bounces your way, too, and when your team has a beat, a feel for the other guys.
When your coach has watched the Giants win the Super Bowl two seasons ago, spent the last two offseasons matching up against them in the draft and in free agency, and then rolled out a plan that clicks.
The Eagles are faster, more physical and smarter than the Giants right now.