Walter Thurmond's interception helps Philadelphia Eagles beat New York Giants

By Patti Traina, The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 4, 2016 at 1:36 AM
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Walter Thurmond returned an interception 83 yards for a touchdown in a 35-30 win over the New York Giants on Sunday in what could have been Giants coach Tom Coughlin's final game.

Coughlin, who right up until the end did everything he could to deflect any attention from his situation -- he informed the media that he would not discuss a Fox Sports report claiming he planned to "ride off into the sunset" and retire -- was mostly upbeat, though disappointed over how a promising season went so horribly awry.

"Five games that ended up in the final 30 seconds either one way or the other and this is probably the exact same circumstance," said Coughlin when asked if there is an answer to why things spun out of control.

"Finishing the game has been an issue all year for us and we've talked about it, we've worked on it -- I switched the two-minute drills around in practice to try and make it more of an emphasis -- and we're still working on it."

Giants quarterback Eli Manning agreed with the only head coach he has had in the pros.

"You know, just missed opportunities. I thought we played hard all year," he said. "I thought every game we were well prepared, we had a good plan and we just didn't make plays in critical moments of the game to win and it's the case tonight."

The Eagles held the lead until midway through the third quarter when the Giants, who converted two Eagles turnovers into 14 points, took a 27-21 lead on a forced fumble by linebacker Jasper Brinkley. Manning threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to receiver Rueben Randle to increase the lead to six.

The Eagles jumped out to a 14-6 lead on a 54-yard, opening-drive touchdown run by running back DeMarco Murray and a 6-yard scoring run by running back Darren Sproles. The latter was set up by a 60-yard pass completion from Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford to tight end Zach Ertz.

Manning capitalized after Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas' interception when Manning found rookie tight end Will Tye for a 9-yard scoring pass to close the Eagles' lead to 14-13.

Manning was 24 of 43 for 302 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Rashad Jennings rushed for 170 yards on 27 carries for the Giants.

Bradford connecting on a 4-yard scoring pass to receiver Jordan Matthews on the first of his two scores of the day, and the Giants closed the deficit to 21-20 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Jennings.

After Randle's touchdown reception put the Giants ahead 27-21, Thurmond fought off Giants running back Shane Vereen for the ball and took the interception to the house for the Pick-6 and the 28-27 lead.

Bradford and the Eagles extended their lead in the fourth quarter by chewing six minutes, 12 seconds off the clock on a 13-play drive ending in a 3-yard catch by Matthews, his second score of the day. That gave the Eagles a 35-27 lead prior to Giants kicker Josh Brown's third field goal of the day, this from 48-yard field goal, to make it a 35-30 game.

For the Eagles, the win snapped a two-game losing streak and sends them out on a high note to end their rocky season, which came to a head on Tuesday with owner Jeffery Lurie's decision to fire head coach Chip Kelly.

"It was really important," Bradford said of the win. "It was tough for everyone this week, and I think it would have been even tougher to go into the offseason with a loss. I was really proud of the guys. I thought they fought tremendously hard out there. Really just proud of the effort."

"I was proud of them," added interim head coach Pat Shurmur of the Eagles' effort. "The reality of it is we were just all out there doing our jobs and they had fun doing it.

"Because they played a whale of a game, they get to experience that feeling you get when you win a football game one last time."

By finishing in second place in the NFC East, the Eagles will avoid having to face the Rams next season in London. Instead, the Giants, 6-10 for the second straight season, draw that assignment, scheduled for Oct. 23, 2016, at Twickenham Stadium.

NOTES: Eagles QB Sam Bradford, who finished with 320 passing yards in this game, has topped the 3,500-yard mark for the third time in his career. Bradford, completing his first season with the Eagles after being acquired by trade last year, previously threw for more than 3,500 as a member of the St. Louis Rams in 2010 (3,512 yards) and 2012 (3,702 yards). ... Eagles RB DeMarco Murray's 69 yards on 12 carries snapped a three-game streak in which he had run for 100 or more yards against the Giants. ... Giants QB Eli Manning, who turned 35 Sunday, finished with 35 touchdown passes, one shy of the franchise single-season record set by Y.A. Title (36) in 1963.

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