The Giants and Eagles renew their rivalry Sunday at MetLife Stadium:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Zak DeOssie is willing to reprise the most embarrassing moment of his career if it will help the Giants defeat the Philadelphia Eagles.
On Oct. 27, 2013, the Giants held a seemingly safe 15-0 fourth-quarter lead over the Eagles when DeOssie airmailed a snap over the head of punter Steve Weatherford – perhaps the only poor snap in his 10-year, 156-game career (including playoffs). Najee Goode picked up the ball and scored a touchdown on what was officially a 2-yard fumble return, making the game much closer than the Giants would have liked.
On Sunday, the Giants will host the Eagles in a meeting of 4-3 teams deadlocked for second place in the NFC East. Will DeOssie sail another snap high over the head of its intended target?
"If that's what it takes to win," he said, "I'll take one for the team."
DeOssie's willingness to do whatever is necessary to help the Giants is admirable. This week it is acutely understandable, because no team has enjoyed as much recent success against the Giants as Philadelphia. The game punctuated by the errant snap was the Giants' only victory over the Eagles in their last six meetings. Philly has won four in a row in the series. Since a two-game Giants sweep in 2007, Philadelphia has won 13 of 16 games in the rivalry, including a 2008 NFC Divisional Playoff Game. The Giants have lost eight of their last 10 home games against the Eagles, including five of six in MetLife.
Victor Cruz hurt his knee in Philadelphia two years ago and missed the three subsequent games against the Eagles, but he is as mystified as anyone as to why the Giants have had trouble defeating a team that has been their rival for more than eight decades.
"I can't really put a finger on it," Cruz said. "It is just one of those things. Every game is different, every game has its own storyline and, unfortunately, every time we have played them, they have gotten the better of us, at least in recent years. We just want to change that. We want to obviously go out there and have that in our minds, and as we go out there and play in the game, we are thinking about that. We want to change that stat line and get on the opposite end of it."
If the Giants are to remain in contention for the division title, and perhaps a postseason berth, they must find a way to beat Philly.
"Losing four, on paper it looks awful," defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins said. "This is an opportunity for us to go out and chase that this Sunday. I think everyone is getting locked in and focusing on that. We're at home, so we have to win all the division games at home. We let one slip by against Washington (on Sept. 25). There's definitely a sense of urgency. Guys are really getting ready and preparing for this game."
Eli Manning is more familiar with the NFC East than any other Giants player. In regular-season play, he is 12-12 against Dallas and 16-8 vs. Washington – but just 9-14 vs. the Eagles. History, however, has not occupied his thoughts this week.
"Anytime you are playing in the division, it is always big," Manning said. "We always seem to have a lot of tight games against the Eagles, and some big game against them. You always know you are going to get a tough opponent, a physical team and so I am looking forward to this matchup."
For some Giants, the team's struggles against Philadelphia have been more personal. Guard Justin Pugh attended high school in Holland, Pa., about 30 miles from Lincoln Financial Field.
"I've only beat Philly once (the 15-7 game)," Pugh said. "Obviously, coming from there, there's no team I want to beat more than Philly.
"I just don't like Philly, to be honest. I'm from there. Every time I go back there I don't get treated right by my hometown. It'll be nice to go get this one and show my face in my hometown when I go back to my camp this year."
And how is Pugh mistreated by the Philly faithful among his family and friends?
"I'll be sitting there with my mom eating dinner and they'll be doing Eagles chants," he said. "I'll be in the bathroom and they'll be saying, 'Go Eagles.' My shore house is (in) South Jersey, and it's all Philly people."
The Giants have confronted their recent history vs. Philadelphia head on this week. They can't change what's happened, but believe they won't successfully move forward without being honest about it.
"Considering the history, yes, it's been talked about," said DeOssie, the second-longest tenured Giants player after Manning, and the special teams captain for six years. "We are doing our best to address it. It's a constant reminder. They've had our number for a few years. It's certainly frustrating, but we like to use that as motivation. It's not like we're dancing around the issue. We're well aware of it and that we need to change the outcome this time."
Even if it takes a wild snap from the ever-reliable DeOssie?
"I'll never forget that," he said. "I actually thought about that the other day. Hopefully, we won't need any of that stuff in order to win."
But if they do, DeOssie is ready.