Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense didn’t keep the New York Giants winless.
It was the Philadelphia Eagles’ backup quarterback and a bottom-ranked defense that sent Tom Coughlin and the Giants to a 36-21 defeat Sunday, and their worst start since the 1987 strike season when the NFL used replacement players for three games.
Replacing an injured Michael Vick late in the second quarter, Nick Foles led four scoring drives and threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes as Philadelphia (2-3) got back on track after three straight losses.
“Mike was hurt. It was my job to go in there and get a win,” said Foles, who completed 16 of 25 for 197 yards, including TD tosses of 25 yards to Brent Celek and five yards to DeSean Jackson.
The Eagles’ defense was just as good. It intercepted Eli Manning three times with the game on the line in the fourth quarter and forced four turnovers, leading to 17 points.
“It’s huge to get back on the winning side,” said cornerback Brandon Boykin, whose diving interception set up Jackson’s score just 2:02 after Celek’s catch gave Philadelphia a 29-21 lead. “We started doing it as a defense in the second half — late in the third quarter and in the fourth. Doing things we weren’t doing before, getting the turnovers, making plays.”
The Giants’ 0-5 start is their worst in a non-strike year since 1979 when Ray Perkins took over as coach. This start also comes just two years after New York won the Super Bowl.
“They’re very frustrated, very down,” Coughlin said. “They’ve worked very hard during the week, built themselves up to a good approach, and then the frustration of not getting the win . . . they’re doing the best they can. They’re standing up, they’re supporting each other. That’s the way it has to be for a team to continue on.”
The Giants won’t have much time to feel sorry for themselves. They play Chicago on Thursday night.
Vick, who ran for a team-high 79 yards and threw for another 105, left the game with a hamstring injury late in the second quarter after a 13-yard scramble. Kelly said after the game that Vick would have returned had Foles been hurt.
“Mike was very effective throughout the game with his runs,” said Jackson, who had seven catches for 132 yards. “Teams want to take away certain things, and with Mike, it’s taking away the run. It changes the dynamic of the game when he’s not out there. But what you saw with Foles was making the good decisions and plays, I was very impressed with what he came in and did. He threw some great balls, made some great plays.”
LeSean McCoy added a one-yard touchdown run, and Alex Henery kicked a career-high five field goals for the Eagles, who gained 439 yards in total offense.
David Wilson scored on a five-yard run for the Giants, and Manning threw two touchdowns to Rueben Randle in the third quarter to give New York a 21-19 lead.
The difference in this one was Foles. Right after the Giants took the lead on Manning’s six-yard TD pass to Randle, he led an eight-play, 57 yard drive that ended with Henery’s 41-yard field goal with 1:04 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles made the plays in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing play after linebacker Mychal Kendricks intercepted a pass by Manning and returned it to the 25, Foles hit Celek, who got away with a push-off on safety Ryan Mundy in the end zone. The scoring pass was set up by Boykin’s pick at the Giants’ 38.
“I know I can play better,” said Manning, who was 24-for-52 for 334 yards. “Sometimes, things are going to go wrong, but you’ve got to make the best decision. Throw it away, take a sack. I know I can’t keep turning the ball over every time.”