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Points allowed during 1st quarter this season by Penn State

Long shot

Posted by Eric Fisher On September 24

Jake Elliott lined up on his own side of the field. Donnie Jones, the holder, was also on the Eagles’ side of the 50-yard line.

Elliott, a rookie signed off the Bengals’ practice squad less than two weeks ago to replace the injured Caleb Sturgis, had never made a field goal longer than 56 yards. He missed a 52-yard attempt during the third quarter.

This attempt was 61 yards.

The snap from Rick Lovato and the hold by Jones were perfect. Elliott stepped forward and swung his powerful right leg.

“It’s kind of all a blur to me,” Elliott said. “It seemed like the ball was in the air a long time.”

The ball was on track to pass just inside the right upright. It held true to its path, never wavering as it sailed through the goalpost for a franchise-record 61-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Eagles to an emotional 27-24 victory.

“We were told Jake has some really good range,” said quarterback Carson Wentz, whose 19-yard complete to Alshon Jeffery, his longest completion of the game, set up the winning field goal. “We weren’t sure what that meant.”

The Eagles know now. Even the 52-yard attempt Elliott missed to the left had plenty of distance.

That miss gave Elliott an opportunity to practice the “one-minute rule” he says he learned in high school.

“You miss a kick, you have one minute to think about it and move on,” Elliott said. “You make a field goal, you have one minute to celebrate and move on.”

Elliott should be forgiven if he spends more than one minute celebrating Sunday’s game-winner, which was the sixth-longest field goal in NFL history.

Gigantic collapse

Elliott’s field goal, which followed his game-tying 46-yard field with 51 seconds remaining, elevated him to unlikely hero status and saved the Eagles from having to answer a lot of questions about how they could blow a 14-point fourth-quarter lead against the winless Giants.

The Giants (0-3) only scored 13 points during their first two games this season, but they scored 21 points in a span of 5 minutes, 27 seconds during the fourth quarter to take a 21-14 lead. Two of the touchdowns were terrific receptions by Odell Beckham Jr., who tapped two feet down deep in the right corner of the end zone for the Giants’ first touchdown, and then topped himself with an amazing one-handed grab near the left corner of the end zone, again getting two feet down inbounds. (It should be noted that Beckham’s first touchdown was marred by a classless celebration, during which he got down on all fours like a dog, raised one leg and did a urination simulation, earning a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.)

The Giants took the lead, 21-14, when Eli Manning (35 of 47, 366 yards, 3 TDs, 2 interceptions) connected with Sterling Shepard for a perfectly timed pass. Shepard caught the pass in stride and raced to the end zone for a 77-yard touchdown.

The Eagles responded with a four-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with Corey Clement’s 15-yard touchdown run to the left side with 5:40 remaining. Clement’s game-tying touchdown featured a nice straight-arm to a Giants defender by Clement and nice blocks by center Jason Kelce and left guard Stefen Wisniewski, who replaced Chance Warmack, who started in place of Isaac Seumalo.

The Giants regained the lead on Aldrick Rosas’ 41-yard field goal with 3:08 remaining, setting the stage for Elliott’s final-minute heroics.

Half-full/half-empty

The victory truly was a glass half-full vs. glass half-empty event.

Half-full: After the first two series consisted of sacks on first down after play-action fakes that fooled nobody, a short run on second down and then a third-down pass that was short of the first-down marker, head coach Doug Pederson committed to the run. On the Eagles’ third series, an 18-play, 90-yard drive, Pederson called 12 running plays, one fewer than he called during last Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs. Five of those carries, including the touchdown run, were by Blount, who didn’t have an official carry against the Chiefs. Pederson called 40 passing plays and 33 running plays, a much better balance than during the Eagles’ first two games.

Half-empty: Facing fourth-and-8 at the Giants 43 with the Eagles holding a 7-0 lead and 2:36 remaining in the first half, Pederson decided to go for it on fourth down instead of punting. Wentz was dropped for a sack at the 49, setting up what should have been a Giants touchdown. After an apparent touchdown pass to Shepard was overturned on replay, the Giants faced third-and-inches to tie the game. For some reason, the Giants set up in a shotgun formation. Shepard caught Manning’s pass and, with clear possession, got two feet down, but he stumbled out of bounds and lost the ball. Only the NFL’s horrible rule about “possessing the ball through the catch” – as well as terrific penetration by defensive end Vinny Curry on a fourth-down run – kept the Eagles ahead entering halftime.

Even worse was that after the game, when asked about the decision to go for the first down on fourth-and-8, Pederson said, “I stand by my decision.”

Half-full: Pederson replaced Warmack, who gave up a sack that nearly resulted in a safety, with Wisniewski.

Half-empty: After watching Wisniewski make several key blocks during the fourth quarter, the question is why Pederson thought Warmack was a better option to replace Seumalo.

Half-full: Wendell Smallwood rushed 12 times for 71 yards, and LeGarrette Blount carried 12 times for 67 yards and a touchdown. “The O-line and running backs came with an attitude today,” Wentz said.

Half-empty: Darren Sproles left the game in the first half with a right wrist injury and did not return.

Half-full: The Eagles were able to shut out the Giants for three quarters despite the absence of safety Rodney McLeod (hamstring) and first-half injuries to defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and linebacker Jordan Hicks (ankle). Neither returned for the second half.

Half-empty: Even with key starters sidelined by injuries, the Eagles allowed 24 points in the final 12:39 to a team that had 13 points combined in its first two games and hand’t scored more than 20 points in its last eight games.

Demonstrating growth

In the standings, however, there isn’t a half-full or half-empty column. The Eagles get full credit for a victory, moving them to 2-1, including a 2-0 mark in the important divisional record category.

“We might have come up short last year,” Pederson said, “but we’ve learned how to finish drives and finish games.”

And the Eagles can be thankful that Elliott didn’t come up short on the biggest kick of his life.

If he had, then they may also have come up short Sunday.

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Carson Wentz owes Jake Elliott some money