Eagles sling Giants, rather than mud Philadelphia shuts up, puts up in 47-34 victory

November 23, 1992|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Randall was relaxed. Keith liked Rich's offense. Reggie prayed, and Seth declined to comment. There was no finger-pointing in the Philadelphia Eagles locker room yesterday. No back-stabbing. Not one mud-slinging syllable.

Perhaps the Eagles have found out they can't talk their way into the Super Bowl.

The Eagles were quite impressive in their 47-34 win over the New York Giants before 68,153 at Giants Stadium yesterday, just in time for their annual November stretch drive.

Finally.

"You know, I've been around this league for a while," said Reggie White, an ordained minister who is an All-Pro defensive lineman and team leader for the Eagles (7-4). "And there comes a time when you have to win or it's all going to pass you by. There comes a time when you have to shut up, put the controversy behind you, and play ball. We were due. Today, we played Eagles football. We stopped talking, and showed a lot of character on the field."

What exactly is Eagles football?

It's Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham improvising on plays, including one that resulted in a 38-yard touchdown pass to Keith Byars yesterday. It's the special teams producing an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown by Vai Sikahema, and linebacker Ken Rose blocking a punt for another touchdown.

And Eagles football is, of course, a mugging defense, one that collected eight sacks and knocked Giants quarterback Jeff Hostetler out of the game with a concussion with nearly seven minutes left in the third quarter.

The Giants (5-6) probably were knocked out of playoff contention, too. Yesterday's game was classified as a "must win" for both teams.

Eagles coach Rich Kotite said: "We were down 20-6 and we came back [scoring the next 34 points]. What we had to do to win, we did as a team. This was a playoff game for us. They [the Giants] were doing the same kind of math we're doing. It was a great team effort for 60 minutes."

"Today is another heart-breaking loss," said Giants wide receiver Ed McCaffrey. "Our backs are against the wall and it is a grim picture. But we have got too much pride to lay down when anything still can happen."

Afterward, there wasn't a lot of talk about an Eagles quarterback controversy or Kotite's conservative offense, all of which seem to reach its height after the Eagles' 27-24 loss to Green Bay last week.

Cunningham, after being benched Nov. 1 against Dallas, made his second straight start yesterday, and wasn't overly impressive. He threw three interceptions and completed 10 of 21 passes for 209 yards.

But he did make some big plays. His biggest came on the Eagles' first possession of the second half with the score tied at 20. On third-and-four from the New York 38, Cunningham was forced to step up in the pocket. He was grabbed by one Giants defender, but somehow got off a shuffle pass to Byars, who made a two-handed shoestring catch and ran 36 yards up the middle for a touchdown.

"That was a Randall play," said Kotite, who has been criticized for trying to make Cunningham a pocket passer. "Under the weather conditions, I thought he played pretty well."

Cunningham also was pleased.

"I felt great today, better than I have all year, even when we were 4-0," said Cunningham. "I was relaxed, and the guys seemed to be having a lot of fun. Nobody worried about the quarterback controversy, and we put all our problems behind us. It's wasn't just Reggie White or Vai Sikahema, it was everybody pitching together like we did earlier in the season."

Kotite made an adjustment in his offense by starting Byars at tight end, and getting Byars and running backs Herschel Walker and Heath Sherman on the field at the same time.

The defense, compared to the last couple of weeks when it dropped from No. 1 to No. 8 in the league, turned up its level of play. Teams had started to dominate the middle where Jerome Brown, the late Eagles defensive lineman, would occupy two offensive linemen.

But without Brown, teams started doubling ends Clyde Simmons and White while barreling over tackles Andy Harmon and Mike Pitts with single blockers.

That stopped yesterday. The Giants had only 94 yards rushing. All eight of the sacks came from the defensive front four, including 3 1/2 from White. Kotite moved White to different positions on the line, more than he has at any other time this season.

"We gave up 410 yards of total offense to the Packers, and up front, we took the challenge personally this week," said White. "I think we served some notice today. I think I let people know I can still play and will be around for a couple of more years."

Joyner, who a week ago criticized Kotite for his conservative play-calling late in the game against Green Bay as the Eagles tried to protect a lead, had perhaps the biggest play of the game.

With the Eagles trailing 20-6, Hostetler rolled to his right and tried to throw back to the left flat to Dave Meggett.

Joyner stepped in front of Meggett and then outran him for a 43-yard touchdown with 9:35 left in the half.

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