EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If there is a common thread in recent games between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, it’s wild endings.
It’s one of the reasons Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck’s loves playing in those games.
“It’s one of those games you go in knowing you have to play your best game to win, and I think they are saying the same about us,” Tuck said Monday as the Giants (2-1) returned to work after a long weekend off following their win over Carolina Thursday. “I’m excited about it.”
There’s been a lot of thrills in this series in which the Eagles have won five of the last six. The most bizarre ending was two years ago at MetLife Stadium when DeSean Jackson returned a punt on the final play to give the Eagles a 38-31 win in a game in which Philadelphia scored 28 points in the final seven-plus minutes overcome a 21-point deficit.
It’s not the only one. Playing for an injured Michael Vick, backup Vince Young led a late touchdown drive on Nov. 20 in a 17-10 Philadelphia win here last season.
The Giants have had some late heroics, too. Eli Manning threw four touchdowns to rally New York to a 29-16 win last season in a game in which Vick broke his hand.
Sunday’s game in Philadelphia should be just as interesting. The Eagles (2-1), after all, are coming off a surprisingly one-sided loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
What makes this meeting even more interesting is that most of the experts picked Philadelphia to win the NFC East this season, despite the Giants being the defending Super Bowl champions.
“We don’t get caught up in it,” Tuck said of the hype. “It’s all about one week at a time and trying to win that week. We are used to people not giving us a shot and not believing in us or anything like that. We don’t want to get involved in that. It is going to be a huge challenge going down there. They are going to be really fired up. That’s what you live for. That’s why you play the game. You get excited for matchups like this.”
The Giants, who have won two in a row after being embarrassed in their season opener against Dallas, are tied with the Eagles and Cowboys for first place. However, New York already has a loss in the division and doesn’t want a second this early.
“They are all important,” Manning said. “It doesn’t matter what your record is. You don’t think about it in those terms. You think: ‘Hey, we got Philadelphia and it’s always a tough environment.’ They are a great team. We have to have a great week of preparation. You go out there and know it will take four quarters and it will take great football to get a win.”
Once again the Giants will have health concerns heading into the week. Cornerback Corey Webster broke his right hand in the win over the Panthers and intends to play with a cast. Starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) has not been cleared after suffering a neck injury against Tampa Bay and offensive tackle David Diehl is uncertain after spraining a knee in the same game. Neither practiced on Monday.
Hakeem Nicks also did not practice on Monday. He missed Thursday’s game with a foot problem, but he expects to play this weekend. Safety Antrel Rolle, who lacerated a knee jumping over a cameraman during the game, did not practice Monday. He also is expected to play.
Cornerbacks Jayron Hosley, who had an interception against Carolina, and Michael Coe, who was not active for the game, are fighting minor hamstring injuries.
“I want to be ready, but at the same time you know it’s one of those things you just can’t determine right away,” Hosley said. “It’s day by day and we’ll see how things go. I want to be ready. It’s a game I have to be out there.”
Domenik Hixon, who suffered a concussion against the Buccaneers, has been cleared to return to action, coach Tom Coughlin said.
NOTES: S Kenny Phillips has appealed the $30,000 the league handed him last week for a hit on receiver Vincent Jackson of Tampa Bay. When asked how he was, Phillips said: “Broke.” … Webster wore a large cast on his hand, but Coughlin said he will be fitted with a smaller one for the game.