Switching starting quarterbacks didn't change the fortunes of the struggling New York Giants. It was playing the anemic Philadelphia Eagles, a club whose owner is even having a tough time watching them these days.
In a game highlighted by little offense, penalties and even comic relief, the Giants snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Eagles 20-0 Sunday behind a touchdown run by Gary Brown and Phillippi Sparks' two interceptions.
Kent Graham also threw a late touchdown in his first start this season and Brad Daluiso kicked two field goal as the Giants (4-7) recorded their first shutout since 1990.
"I'm not going to take anything away and say Philadelphia's offense has been struggling," Giants coach Jim Fassel said. "Who cares? This is the NFL and we're in a ballgame. When you shut the other team out, that means you played very, very well."
The shutout was the third against the Eagles (2-9) this season, the most since 1942. It also stretched the Eagles' winless streak on the road to 15 games (0-14-1), a run that is now almost certain to end Ray Rhodes' tenure as coach.
"There was very little improvement today," Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said in the locker room. "We played uninspired football. I feel terrible for our fans. They deserve better, and they are going to get better. It was just painful to watch, and in this league, no offense, no Ws. It's as simple as that. I'm pretty (angry)."
The Giants, who led 3-0 after a hard-to-watch first half, wore down the Eagles in the final 30 minutes. Brown scored on a 4-yard run in the third quarter and Graham hit Tiki Barber on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 2:09 to play after Sparks' second interception.
"I think it's just one step for us" said Graham, who completed 10 of 21 for 153 yards and one interception. "We have to take it with a grain of salt and realize we have a real tough football game coming up next week (at San Francisco)."
The touchdown run by Brown snapped a TD drought of 178 minutes, 35 seconds, dating to the second half of the Washington game on Nov. 1.
| Giants wide receiver Joe Jurevicius grabs a 59-yard pass from quarterback Kent Graham as Eagles cornerback Al Harris defends during the second quarter. (AP) |
"All week long the coaches told us we had to run the ball hard and run it well," said Brown, who gained 96 yards on 27 carries in the meeting of the NFL's two worst offenses. "It was up to me, Charles (Way) and the line to accept that challenge and establish the run."
The Giants gained 123 of their 261 total yards on the ground.
The Eagles, who gained 214 yards, had two scoring chances. Chris Boniol missed a 44-yard field goal early in the second quarter and Sparks intercepted a floater by Bobby Hoying (14-of-28 for 121 yards) in the end zone in the fourth.
"I am not satisfied with anything," Eagles receiver Irving Fryar said. "How can you be satisfied with the season the way it is going? How can you be satisfied when you constantly have people calling you names and saying you (can't play). How can you be satisfied?"
Daluiso, who added a 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, provided the only points in the first half, a 40-yarder on the Giants' second series. Graham hit Chris Calloway for 22 yards and Ike Hilliard for 15 on consecutive plays on the 46-yard drive.
The Eagles had a chance to tie the score on the next series, but Boniol was short with a 44-yard field goal.
The rest of the half featured a combined 237 total yards, 11 penalties for 73 yards -- four others were declined -- and even a little humor for 65,763 fans, which included 13,379 no shows.
Late in the half, Joe Jurevicius outjumped Al Harris on a 59-yard pass play, broke away from the cornerback and then tripped over his own feet at the Eagles 20. Three plays later, Brian Dawkins intercepted Graham's pass that was tipped by Bobby Taylor.
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