EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Breathe a little easier Philadelphia and surrounding areas. The Eagles are back and looking super.
Just goes to show you what a little urgency, some big plays -- and a timely game against the New York Giants can do for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Carson Wentz threw a season-high three touchdown passes and the Eagles got an early lift from their defense and special teams in beating the struggling Giants 34-13 on Thursday night, avoiding their first three-game losing streak since the 2016 season.
"It's a big win for us," said Wentz, who finished 26 of 36 for 278 yards and no interceptions. "NFC East and the conference. It's huge. Being 3-3 is better than 2-4. This is more like who we are. We can build from this."
The win put the Eagles into a first place tie with Washington (2-2) in the NFC East with Dallas (2-3) a half game back. The Giants are fading fast.
Wentz sandwiched touchdowns passes of 13 and 1 yard to Alshon Jeffery around a 10-yarder to tight end Zach Ertz to help the Eagles build a 31-6 lead. They beat the Giants (1-5) for the fourth straight time and seventh in eight games.
"This is finally the game where we played like the Philadelphia Eagles," said Ertz, who was limited to seven passes for 43 yards. "We're finally the Eagles again."
Rookie halfback Saquon Barkley scored on a 50-yard run and rushed for 130 yards in one of the few bright spots for the Giants' offense, which was booed repeatedly in losing at home for the third time. Aldrick Rosas had field goals of 33 and 21 yards.
This was seen as a must-win game for both teams in the weak and wide-open NFC East, and the Eagles went out and grabbed it.
They came into the game having scored seven points in the first quarter and they doubled that against New York.
Eli Manning was under pressure all night from the Eagles. They sacked him four times and hit him 13 other times. He finished 24 of 43 for 281 yards.
"We want to get after the passer every week," coach Doug Pederson said. "These games are battles. It all comes down to which team gets after the passer. We hit Eli and put him on the ground. That was big."
It started on the opening series.
Kamu Grugier-Hill intercepted Manning's pass that was tipped by fellow linebacker Jordan Hicks and he returned it to Giants 16. Three plays later, Wentz was forced out of the pocket and found Jeffery after getting all day to throw.
A 46-yard run by Barkley set up Rosas' 33-yarder to cut the gap to 7-3, but the Eagles took control later in the quarter after DeAndre Carter returned a punt 23 yards to the New York 44. Passes of 17 to Jeffery and 14 to Clement set up Clement's touchdown run.
A spectacular tackle-breaking run by Barkley on a 55-yard screen pass helped cut the lead to 14-6 in the second quarter but Wentz hit a wide-open Nelson Agholer on a third and 3 and connected with Ertz for a 21-6 lead on the next play.
Elliott made it 24-6 just before halftime and Philadelphia put the game out of reach with a 75-yard drive that ended with a short Jeffery TD catch.
"We didn't do anything well enough to win tonight," Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. "Credit Philadelphia. Good football team."
The only thing meaningful after that was Barkley's touchdown run.
"How do I feel about my performance tonight?" Barkley asked rhetorically. "Doesn't matter to me. We didn't win."
FAN OF THE GAME
Odell Beckham Jr. headbutted a giant cooling fan during a second-half fit that also included him screaming from the sideline and eventually being calmed by Barkley. Beckham also left for the locker room before the end of the first half, though Shurmur said Beckham was excused early because of cramping.
Beckham said his tirade was just a bit of self-motivation.
"I was just trying to get myself going," he said. "I felt like some of those plays where I was getting myself going was some of my best stuff. So I was just trying to get myself fired up. I did that and it helped me."
Thursday's scene comes a week after Beckham bemoaned the lack of downfield passes from Manning and the team's subpar energy following a 33-31 loss to Carolina. Beckham had six catches for 44 yards Thursday, and his longest reception was 12 yards.
INJURIES: Eagles LT Jason Peters left with a biceps injury. Backup cornerback Sidney Jones left in the first half with a hamstring injury. The Giants had LB Ray Ray Amstrong (concussion), WR Cody Latimer (hamstring) and CB Antonio Hamilton (illness) leave the game.
BARKLEY GAINS: Barkley has gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first six career games. He is one off the NFL rookie record set by Kansas City's Kareem Hunt.
Eagles: Host Carolina on Oct. 21.
Giants: At Atlanta on Oct. 22.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Why Colin Kaepernick should avoid the debacle in DC
Even if the Washington football team did want to sign him, here's why he shouldn't join them.
McVay says he 'continually' put the Rams in bad spots
Sean McVay credits the Bears for their win over the Rams and says that this loss is on him and trusts they will respond "the right way."
Bears' D overwhelms Goff, Rams
Chicago's defense stymies Jared Goff and the Rams in primetime, coming up with 4 interceptions and a safety to fuel their upset win at Soldier Field.
Antonio Brown's son shows off shifty moves
Antonio Brown's son Autonomy Brown jukes his way to a touchdown in his flag football league.
Goldman, dominant defense leads Bears over Rams 15-6
Eddie Goldman led a dominant effort by the defense, and the Chicago Bears shut down Jared Goff and Los Angeles' high-powered offense in a 15-6 victory over the NFC West champion Rams on Sunday night.
Bears find blueprint for shutting down the Rams' offense
Chicago's defense absolutely dominated the Rams. It was one of the worst showings for Sean McVay and again reset the NFC playoff race.