For more than three hours, the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles tried to find a way to lose. The Eagles are still the class of the NFL in that department.
Outplayed and seemingly beaten by the lowly Eagles, the Giants capitalized on two late turnovers to come back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and beat Philadelphia 23-17 in overtime Sunday.
``You can call it human error or you can call it the defense playing hard,'' said Michael Strahan, who won the game with a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown. ``I call it a miracle from God.''
Strahan may be giving the Eagles (2-6) too much credit. If Philadelphia has perfected anything, it's finding the most demoralizing way to blow a game.
The Eagles had a field goal blocked and fumbled on their own 5 late in the fourth before the Giants' Christian Peter tipped Doug Pederson's pass on third-and-8 in OT. Strahan caught it and ran untouched to the end zone as the Giants (5-3) extended their winning streak to three games.
``I saw the ball get tipped and thought, 'This is too good to be true,''' Strahan said. ``It was moving in slow motion.''
The Eagles blew a chance to put the game out of reach with 6 1/2 minutes left in the fourth when Norm Johnson's 33-yard field goal attempt was blocked - also by Peter - after a high snap.
``If they kick a field goal, I think the game really would have been over,'' Strahan said.
``Fortunately, I got my hands up and that was it,'' Peter said. ``On the blocked pass, I was just trying to get downfield and make something happen.''
With Gary Brown and backup Joe Montgomery out, Kent Graham was the Giants' leading rusher with 40 yards. Graham was 26-of-42 for 240 yards, playing well for the second straight week.
New York also was without safety Percy Ellsworth and his backup Shaun Williams. The Giants now have a bye week to get healthy.
``That's my fourth (career) interception, two of them for touchdowns,'' Strahan said. ``With all our injuries, maybe I should move to safety.''
Duce Staley carried the Eagles with 97 yards including a 21-yard TD in a 14-point second quarter - unheard of for a team that has only eight offensive touchdowns all year. But Staley was stripped by Keith Hamilton and fumbled at the Philadelphia 5 with 2:43 left, leading to Graham's 7-yard TD pass to Pete Mitchell to tie it at 17-all with 2 minutes to play.
The Giants went three plays and out on the first series of OT. Pederson, who earlier threw the Eagles' longest pass in more than five years, could only watch while Strahan grabbed the ball and rumbled to the end zone.
``The situation that happened today should never happen,'' said Eagles coach Andy Reid, his voice shaky and eyes watering after his team blew a fourth-quarter lead for the second straight week and second game in a row against the Giants.
It was a devastating loss for the Eagles, who had to stomach a 16-15 loss to the Giants at the Meadowlands Oct. 3.
``All I'm going to think about all night is that fumble,'' Staley said.
Eagles rookie Donovan McNabb made his earliest appearance of the season in the first quarter, but lasted only three plays. Pederson was 18-for-28 for 257 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Torrance Small had four catches for 119 yards, including an 84-yard touchdown.
David Akers' 59-yard attempt was no good with 8 seconds left in regulation, and Graham's pass to the end zone was batted down, sending it to overtime.
``We had some major miscues in the beginning,'' Giants coach Jim Fassel said. ``I couldn't believe some of the mistakes we were making.''
The Eagles broke a streak of seven quarters without an offensive touchdown with two of them in the second to take a 17-3 lead.
After receiver Charles Johnson said during the week that he believed cornerback Jason Sehorn could be beaten deep, that's exactly what the Eagles did. On second-and-8 from the Eagles 16, Small faked short on Sehorn, then got behind him and raced toward midfield. Small gathered in the ball, stumbled for about 10 yards and nearly fell, then showed some unexpected speed as he ran all the way for an 84-yard TD making it 17-3.
LeShon Johnson's 2-yard TD run cut it to 17-10 1:57 into the fourth.