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Other Week 17 Game Recaps

Week 17 Game Recap: Philadelphia Eagles 35, New York Giants 30

What you need to know

Philadelphia Eagles

It's never fair to catalog a game as meaningless. Though it may not change the outcome of a season for either contestant, winning is important. Winning molds locker rooms and unites teammates. Ending a season on high a note, especially one that was soured with underachievement and sunk a great coach in his first professional effort, means much more than the resulting losing record. Such was the case for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The only thing that would change is their draft position come April. Otherwise, beating a division foe meant nothing more than city pride and devotion to improving rather than giving up. The Eagles, with their head coach now unemployed, hit the road to New York and took control of the game early. But, as has been the case for most of the year, they let their lead slip away via turnovers and bad defense. Said defense allowed a mediocre running back bash them over and over again. But it also kept one of the best receivers in check and turned a pick-six into a game-changer. Offensively, they were excellent. The Eagles converted 100 percent of their red-zone trips into points, while also converting 10 of 13 third downs. Altogether, they netted 435 yards and overcame a pair of costly turnovers. The net result was a well-balanced attack that featured efficient passing with productive running. There is no shortage of talent on this roster. Should they find some consistency with whomever takes the reigns in the 2016 season, the NFC East championship will be much harder to acquire.

New York Giants

· Manning squandered a redzone opportunity late in the game as he lost a fumble which prevented him from having a very strong final game of the season. · Beckham jr. returned but Randle stole the show again as his deep threat potential is evident still. Randle’s speed is not elite but he has a tendency to make big plays down the field. · Will Tye is clearly the Giants best tight end option and should be in the discussion next season as a top 15 player at his position.

Philadelphia Eagles

QB Sam Bradford, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 38 - 320 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0
There were times this season that Sam Bradford looked like a bad investment. There were other times, such as these last few games, where he looked every bit capable of leading any offense to a playoff berth. That berth isn't in the cards this year, but he was excellent in his last showing of the 2015 season. The running game helped alleviate pressure for most of the afternoon, highlighted with a 54-yard touchdown to open things up. As a result, Bradford connected on 79 percent of his throws on his way to one of the most efficient performances of his career. His one interception came as a result of a batted pass that could have been a touch higher, but it was hardly a result of inaccuracy or poor decision-making - two things that are generally to blame for turnovers by quarterbacks. There were a couple of throws that were off the mark, neither of which held any negative consequence. He also put a few passes right on the numbers that were dropped by his receivers. In the end, Bradford closed out the season with an encouraging performance. Even if his final stat line of 3,725 passing yards (a career high) with 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions won't win him any Hall of Fame vouchers, look for him to excel in 2016.

RB DeMarco Murray, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 69 - 1 (1 targets)
DeMarco Murray and Chip Kelly's system weren't compatible. Usually, it's preferable to call plays that allow a between-the-tackles runner to run between the tackles rather than parallel to the line of scrimmage. Yet, game after game, play after play, there was No. 29, bouncing towards the sidelines and often met by defenders in the backfield. But when given opportunity and good blocking - a trait every runner needs regardless of skill set - Murray proved capable of pushing forward and pounding through defenders. Such was the case on his first carry of the day - a 54-yard touchdown powered by great blocking and just enough speed to elude the chasing safety. It was the longest run of his season - a rare occasion where his blockers cleared a monster hole and he was able to square his shoulders and take advantage of his natural abilities as a runner. Unfortunately, his 11 other attempts gained 15 total yards, as if the ghost of Kelly controlled the playbook.

RB Kenjon Barner, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 18 - 0, Rec: 5 - 21 - 0 (5 targets)
For some reason Kenjon Barner saw a lot more action without Chip Kelly on the sideline. His 10 total touches ranked second to DeMarco Murray's 12, but Barner failed to make much use of them. Seven of his 18 rushing yards came on one play and 12 of his 21 receiving yards came on one reception.

RB Darren Sproles, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 24 - 1, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (3 targets)
Darren Sproles managed only six touches but made every one of them count. His day started with a five-yard reception on a 3rd-and-3, and was highlighted by a cut-and-run six-yard touchdown in which he weaved past the first defender before accelerating to the end zone. He continued to be one of the most efficient players of the Eagles' offense by gaining chunks of yards both out of the backfield and as a receiver. His only low-light came in the form of one-yard carry blown up by poor blocking. Otherwise, he continued his age-defying ways by exploding from the mesh point and will finish his season just below four yards per carry.

RB Ryan Mathews, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 11 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (2 targets)
Ryan Mathews was barely used in this contest, despite getting the first crack at carries. His best play of the day a catch and run in which he bullied a few defenders on his way to a solid gain - was erased by an offensive tripping penalty called on the right tackle. Seven of his 11 rushing yards came on one run. He had the fourth fewest touches among Eagles' running backs on the day.

WR Jordan Matthews, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 54 - 2 (9 targets)
Jordan Matthews' consistency and relationship with his quarterback is materializing all too late. The Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs a week ago, but he still went out and played like this game was just as important as any. He routinely beat his defender, particularly on both of his touchdowns. The first one came with the Eagles set up on the three-yard line. He cut out of the slot and worked a yard lead on his defender before securing a rocket pass from Sam Bradford. His second touchdown was very similar - another goal line toss from the three-yard line in which he easily broke free of his defender and caught the pass without contention. His other highlight of the day came on a 25-yard sprint across the middle. He also dropped a pass that hit him in stride on a third down play that might have gone for a huge touchdown had he reeled it in.

WR Nelson Agholor, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (3 targets)
Nelson Agholor nearly made a highlight reel catch after taking a short throw and turning up field for 16 yards. It was an impressive display of speed and vision that made at least one defender miss, but he closed off his run with a cut towards the final defender before being tackled down at the three-yard line. Had he stayed straight, or waited before making his final move, he may have scored. He was also concussed on the play and didn't see another target.

TE Zach Ertz, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 152 - 0 (9 targets)
Zach Ertz came into the day with a great matchup and ranked second in both receptions and yards for the Eagles. He responded by catching all nine of his targets for 152 yards, including a 60-yard catch-cut-and-run early in the game. As has been the case for the last three weeks, Ertz found a way to get open by locating the soft spot in coverage, beating his man or just flat out making a great catch on his way to a career day. While that 60-yard catch certainly helped him pad his box score, he was nothing short of spectacular in this game with all but three of his catches counting for double-digit yardage.

TE Brent Celek, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 38 - 0 (2 targets)
Brent Celek contributed 38 yards on a pair of catches. The first of which went for 14 yards on a play in which the defense forgot about him. His second catch was much more impressive - a 24-yarder in excellent coverage. Celek was able to secure the catch despite his defender having two hands on the ball. He was also concussed on the play and didn't return.

New York Giants

QB Eli Manning, 84 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 43 - 302 - 2 TD / 0 INT
Eli Manning had a slightly above average performance in a disappointing final game for the Giants 2015 season. Manning was able to audible and utilise the running well a lot as Rashad Jennings was a force on the ground. This helped out the pass protection and kept the Eagles guessing defensively for most of the game as they could not focus on any one area to defend. Manning targeted a wide open Myles White on a deep corner route in the first half but the pass was off target unfortunately and it fell incomplete. Manning was kept upright for the most part but did take 2 key sacks in critical situations, including a third down. Manning found Randle over the middle on a post route and placed the well in an excellent location for his receiver. Manning then connected with Will Tye in the redzone for his first touchdown. Tye faked a block at the line before uncovering on a slant out pattern and juking his defender in coverage to extend his arm just enough for the score. Manning got his second touchdown to Randle deep on a deep in& up pattern. Randle got good separation from his defender and Manning fired an accurate ball that Randle was able to haul in and fall into the endzone. Manning almost hit Beckham jr. on a post route in the endzone but the defender was flagged for defensive holding which caused the play to be interrupted. Disaster struck Manning later in the game as he was hit from behind in the pocket and the ball flew into the air before an Eagles defender brought it back for a touchdown, it was later correctly ruled as a fumble return touchdown and not an interception. Manning kept the Giants in the game as he bought time scrambling out of the pocket and throwing on the run. Manning almost connected deep with Beckham jr. for a potential touchdown but the pass was slightly underthrown for Beckham’s position. Hakeem Nicks later failed to haul in a well thrown pass from Manning on the sideline, letting the ball hit the ground as he dove for it. The Giants ultimately failed to convert a 4th down in a subsequent drive which ended the game.

RB Rashad Jennings, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 27 - 170 - 1, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (5 targets)
Rashad Jennings had a very strong performance on Sunday against the Eagles and looked dominant at times on the ground. Jennings ripped off big chunks of yards throughout the game and helped the Giants stay competitive in this contest. Jennings was aided by some terrific run blocking up front by the Giants offensive line. The line sprung Jennings many times down the sideline, sealing some key blocks and preventing Eagle defenders from getting near him for a few seconds. Jennings converted a lot of third downs on toss plays, getting a good push again from his line and getting chances to burn the Eagles on the outside. The offensive line routinely kept defenders away from Jennings at the line of scrimmage and Jennings was able to burn the Eagles up the middle on many occasions. Jennings was given the ball many times in the redzone but always seemed to come up just shy, until the second half. Jennings was taken down 1 yard short on a carry but scored on the very next play, ploughing his way over the line of scrimmage as 2 Giants lineman created enough of a gap in the defense. Jennings has without a doubt been the most productive and useful back the Giants have seen in this offense and would do well to keep him for another year. He has developed some strong chemistry with the offensive line who have made him look very good for 3 straight games. Will this running game get a chance to return next year; only the Giants know.

RB Shane Vereen, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 12 - 0, Rec: 6 - 72 - 0 (8 targets)
Shane Vereen accomplished very little on the ground on Sunday in only 4 carries but excelled in the passing game which he is better known for. Vereen got into a groove on one particular drive late in the game and managed 4 straight touches of the ball. The Giants isolated Vereen against an Eagle linebacker over the middle in the passing game and Vereen was able to beat him inside on every play. Vereen showed good route running as he successfully faked outside before cutting back inside which caught the Eagle linebacker off guard. Vereen was very useful as a check down option for Manning and he picked up several first downs this way. Vereen had a lot of space to work with out of the backfield and took advantage of one on one man coverage when possible. He also got his hands on a screen pass but was unfortunate not to score as he was taken down a few yards shy of the goal line.

WR Rueben Randle, 84 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 79 - 1 (7 targets)
Randle was scarcely involved on Sunday in this game but made his presence felt with a big touchdown catch. Randle ran an excellent in & up pattern, gaining big separation from his defender before Manning fired a deep pass his direction. Randle showed good awareness to secure the ball and score, despite the defender catching upto him as the ball got near. Randle also made a terrific catch on a post route deep, adjusting very well to a wobbly ball over the middle from Manning. Randle was able to get open in this game and made the clutch catches when asked to by Manning. Randle does not have the speed to fly by defenses but his route running can make defenders guess at times. Randle was a strong deep threat in this game and produced more than can be expected for a low end #2 receiver.

TE Will Tye, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 67 - 1 (8 targets)
Will Tye had a very solid performance on Sunday to finish off his strong season overall as a tight end in this offense. Tye created some mis matches against the defense and was able to score again this week. Tye faked a pass block set up well before unravelling on slant out pattern to the outside. Tye hauled in the pass and juked his defender before outstretching the ball just enough to secure the score. Tye showed good spatial awareness of how to score in that situation and solid hands throughout this game. Tye also showed good chemistry with Manning in the passing game as Manning looked his way for a first down on a scramble out of the pocket. Tye caught several more balls over the middle, showing athletic ability to gain separation and strong concentration to hold onto a variety of balls that went his way. Tye has been more consistent in this offense than Larry Donnell was prior to his injury. Tye has earned his right to compete for the number one tight end spot next season.