EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Eagles destroyed the Giants’ season a year ago at the Meadowlands with a 28-point onslaught in the final seven minutes.
This time, coach Andy Reid’s undermanned team used the slow and excruciating method to hurt the Giants once again and tighten the NFC East race.
Using a quarterback whose only pass this season had been intercepted to replace Michael Vick, and a receiver who did not have a catch all season, Philadelphia marched 80 yards in roughly nine minutes and defeated the Giants 17-10 Sunday night on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Vince Young to Riley Cooper with 2:45 to play.
"We knew we had to dig deep," said Cooper who had his first five catches of the season for 75 yards. "Everybody contributed. It was not just one player, not just one long play. We pieced that last drive together piece by piece."
What was so surprising was that the Eagles (4-6) did it in the fourth quarter, a period that had seen them lose five games earlier this season.
The Eagles found the solution this time with an 18-play march over 8:51 that sent the Giants (6-4) to their second straight loss.
"It’s definitely a big win," said Young, who was 23 of 36 for 258 yards and two touchdown, with three interceptions. "You see the excitement and the smiles on the guys, and that’s what we need, what we have to have."
Philadelphia converted six third-down plays on the game-winning drive, with DeSean Jackson setting up the first-and-goal with a 10-yard catch, and Young capping it with his second touchdown pass of the game to a wide-open Cooper.
"We were taking our time, making plays, and the guys came up with big plays on third down," Young said.
Jackson, who was benched for last week’s game for missing a team meeting, finished with six catches for 88 yards and set up a touchdown pass to former Giant Steve Smith with a 51-yard punt return. LeSean McCoy added 113 yards rushing, with 60 coming on a late run that iced the game.
"Vince, stepping in for the great Michael Vick, that’s a tough thing to do, and he did it and the guys rallied around him," Reid said. "The offensive line and defensive line played well, the offensive line had a huge challenge when it counted, and they were able to put some things together."
The Eagles, of course, made Reid sweat out the final minutes.
Eli Manning drove the Giants from their own 10 to the Eagles 21, with the final 47 yards coming on a catch-and-run by Victor Cruz with 1:25 to play.
However, Manning fumbled on the next play when he was hit from behind by Jason Babin, and Derek Landri recovered for the Eagles.
"It was important because it keeps us alive," Eagles linebacker Jamar Chaney said. "We had faith coming in. We really did. We might have been banged up, but we had faith. I feel good about our defensive effort. We came up big. It was time for the defense to make a play, and we have a lot of playmakers out there."
The loss dropped New York into a first-place tie with Dallas in the NFC East and left the Eagles two games behind.
"This is as big a disappointment as we have had around here in a long time," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
It also marked the second straight year the Eagles rallied late to beat New York at the Meadowlands with last year’s 38-31 decision coming in a game that Philadelphia rallied from 21 points down late.
While Young made several big plays to spark the Eagles’ offense, he also threw three interceptions, the most costly being one that Aaron Ross picked off in the end zone on a second-and-9 from the New York 16 with Philadelphia ahead 10-3 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.
New York tied it early in the fourth quarter on a 24-yard pass from Manning to Cruz. It was set up two plays earlier when Manning rolled out of the pocket and found Hakeem Nicks for a 47-yard gain on third down to the Eagles 24.
Manning was 18 of 35 for 264 yards, and Cruz had six catches for 128 yards. The Giants’ running game failed to get going, rushing for just 29 yards.
"We can’t always afford to be in those positions," Manning said of the recent late rallies. "I think we still feel confident when we get in there that we’re going to move the ball and we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win. It is just a matter of you don’t always want to be in that position."PHILADELPHIA – 17
N.Y. GIANTS – 10
■ KEY: Backup quarterback Vince Young threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper with 2:45 remaining.
■ NEXT: Patriots at Eagles, no line; Giants at Saints (-6 1/2)