The Philadelphia Eagles, benefiting from two fourth-quarter turnovers, made up for an opening-day loss with a 24-10 victory over the New York Giants today.
Playing under sunny skies with the temperatures in the 70s, the Eagles' quarterback, Ron Jaworski, was sacked five times early in the game but threw three touchdown passes, two in the contest's last seven minutes. The Eagles' third straight victory put both teams at 4-4, tied for last place in the NFC East. The Giants play the Redskins at the Meadowlands on Sunday.
The Giants came into this game with one of the NFL's worst rushing records but a decently regarded passing game and a quarterback, Phil Simms, who had thrown three touchdown passes against the Eagles in his first shot at them this season.
And, yet, the Giants came out running, and it didn't work. Their running backs repeatedly were stopped on key downs, especially as the game wore on, and they managed only 59 yards in 30 carries.
With about nine minutes left, the Giants began to self-destruct. Lionel Manuel was taken down for an eight-yard loss on a reverse, the same play that the Giants had tried with disastrous results against the Redskins a few weeks earlier. Then, on third and 18, Simms went back to pass, was sacked by defensive end Greg Brown and fumbled.
Linebacker Jerry Robinson fell on the ball at the Giants' eight and, three plays later, on third and 11, Jaworski passed to wide receiver Melvin Hoover for a 17-10 lead.
The Giants still were in the game, but not for long. On their next series, Simms' pass was intercepted by strong safety Ray Ellis, who returned the ball 14 yards to the Eagles' 46. With 1:04 to play, Jaworski ensured victory with a 37-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tony Woodruff.
"This is the best feeling I've had in a couple of years," said Philadelphia Coach Marion Campbell. "I would have to label that a character win. Each player that we had contributed to it and I'm pleased with all of them."
The Eagles scored first, on an 83-yard pass play, Jaworski to rookie first-round draft choice Kenny Jackson of Penn State, with 4 1/2 minutes to go in the first quarter.
Jackson caught the third-and-nine pass over the middle at the Eagles' 26, outran three defenders and scored untouched for his first NFL touchdown. In the second quarter, Jackson separated a shoulder diving for a ball and will be unable to play again for at least six weeks.
After the game, Jackson, reflecting the Eagles' new found optimism, said, "I don't feel too bad, I'll be back in time for the playoffs."
The Giants tied the score in the second quarter. The key play was Simms' 37-yard pass to Manuel, who was taken down on the one-yard line. Fullback Rob Carpenter scored from there.
The Eagles, running off 10 plays in one minute, then went ahead, 10-7, on Paul McFadden's 45-yard field goal 17 seconds before halftime.
Almost unbelievably, the Giants still had a chance to tie the score before intermission, McFadden's squibbed kick giving them the ball at their 43.
After a 26-yard completion, Ali Haji-Sheikh attempted a 48-yard field goal with four seconds to go. The kick went wide, as Haji-Sheik, the sensation of the league last year, continued to disappoint in his second season, though he did make a 31-yard attempt 9 1/2 minutes into the third quarter.
"That's another thing (field goal kicking) that's hurting us," Giants Coach Bill Parcells said. "What are we now, five for 14 or something like that? I don't know what we can do about it, either keep him or look around." The coach then said he was not looking around.