EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Somehow, some way, the Eagles found a way to finish the job, and because they did, they are champions of the NFC East for the second time in the last three years.
Perhaps it wasn’t so much who they didn’t have coming into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, or the star power they lost during the game, but who they did have.
One name comes to mind: Boston Scott.
The diminutive running back scored three touchdowns and was a terror in the passing game, and it was Scott who spear-headed the Eagles’ 34-17 win over the Giants.
"What I love about this football team is how we have stuck together the entire season," said Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who has his team in the playoffs for a third straight year and the third time in his four years at the helm.
"We've battled, we put ourselves in position to win the NFC East, and we've done that. What I see from our players is they're already talking about next week and coming to work this week and preparing for nesxt week, and it just tells me these guys are in the right frame of mind."
The Eagles, now 9-7 and on a four-game winning streak, will open the playoffs at home next weekend against the loser of Sunday night’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
It was clear that the Eagles would need to win to get in, because the Dallas Cowboys were tuning up the Washington Redskins, winning 47-16. The Eagles could have afforded to lose but would have needed the Redskins to beat Dallas.
Scott was phenomenal and he needed to be since Miles Sanders was lost in the first half to an ankle injury.
The Eagles also lost guard Brandon Brooks, who was carted off the field with a shoulder injury, and cornerback Avonte Maddox; both in the first half.
Scott scored three rushing touchdowns and led the Eagles with 19 carries for 54 yards and led the team in receiving with four catches for 84 yards.
Quarterback Carson Wentz also became the first Eagles quarterback in history to pass for 4,000 yards.
He needed 250 yards coming in and ended with 289 on 23-for-40. His 24-yard touchdown pass to Josh Perkins that gave the Eagles a 10-3 lead with 1:52 to go in the half extended his consecutive games with a TD pass to 19, which is the longest active streak in the NFL.
"It's a great time to be hitting our stride," said Wentz. "There's been a lot of ups and downs all season long, but guys have hung together and fidning what we're really good at and what we do well and putting guys in right situations.
"Guys just keep believing, keep fighting. It's good to see us hit our stride now and hopefully we can carry it over into the playoffs."
The outcome was in doubt after Saquon Barkley ran 68 yards for a touchdown that tied the score at 17-17 with 2:05 to play in the third.
Before Barkley evened things up, Scott had scored his first touchdown of the game, running in from seven yards away with 2:21 to play in the third quarter.
After a 50-yard field goal by Jake Elliott early in the fourth quarter, the defense flexed it muscle.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins dove across the line of scrimmage to swat the ball away from Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who had dropped the shotgun snap but picked it right back up. Fletcher Cox tracked down the bouncing ball and fell on it at the 2-yard line.
"I didn't try to pick it up and score," said Cox. "I just tried to make sure I got the football and try to get it back to the offense and get us in position to score."
Scott plunged in on the very next play for his second touchdown of the game and the Eagles led 27-17 with 13 minutes remaining.
The 10 points came in a span of 58 seconds.
The defense then got a turnover on downs when Cre’Von LeBlanc, who had been lightly used since returning from injured reserve in late November, upended Barkley on a fourth-and-two run before Barkley could even gain a yard.
LeBlanc played stoutly all game long and needed to after cornerback Jalen Mills was ruled out prior to the game and Avonte Maddox got hurt in the first half.
The Eagles appeared ready to punt the ball back but on third-and-13, when Scott took a short screen pass and galloped up the middle of the field. He made an unreal spin move to get past one defender on his way to a 39-yard gain to the two-yard line. Scott ran it from there for his third touchdown.
Maddox wasn’t the only player the Eagles lost.
Sanders hurt an ankle in the first half and did not return and Brooks was carted off the field with a shoulder injury with less than two minutes to play in the first half.
The injuries could prove costly in next weekend’s playoff game, but for now, the Eagles will worry about that another day.
They are the NFC East champs.