GOLDBERG ON FOOTBALL: Two losers don't prove much

Updated: October 19, 2003, 7:13 PM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles were supposed to be at the top of the NFC East.

They played Sunday like they belong where they were at the start of the game -- at the bottom of the division.

For the record, the Eagles won 14-10 on Brian Westbrook's 84-yard punt return with 1:16 left in the game and now are 3-3. But they got shoved around and still don't look like a team that went to the NFC title game the last two seasons.

As for the Giants, it was the third time in their last five losses dating to the playoffs last season that a defeat can be blamed on special teams.

"It would be an understatement if I told you that I can't believed what happened to us," said coach Jim Fassel, who figured there was no way his team would let Philadelphia drive from inside its own 20 into the wind with just over a minute left. "It seems like we find a new way to do it every time."

From the other side ...

"I'm not happy with the way I played, but we won, so I'm happy," said Donovan McNabb, who passed for just 64 yards, completed one pass to a wide receiver and looked totally confused for the last three quarters. He came into the game last in the NFC with a 54.2 passer rating and he didn't even get close to that -- he was 29.1 for the game.

This game was the perfect example of why statistics are for losers -- the Giants outgained the Eagles 339-134 and held the ball for almost 36 minutes. Philadelphia's offense got only one first down in the second half and didn't get past midfield after intermission.

And Kerry Collins, the most immobile of quarterbacks, actually outrushed McNabb -- he had 28 yards on four carries; McNabb ran three times for minus-1 yard.

But Philadelphia won because Westbrook, who has become the team's prime (only?) offensive weapon, grabbed a bouncing punt from Jeff Feagles on his own 16, evaded one man and suddenly found himself in the open down the left sideline. There was only Feagles to beat and Westbrook beat him -- a 37-year-old punter against a 24-year-old running back is as big a mismatch as you can get.

Westbrook aside, the Eagles have much improvement to make in a division where Bill Parcells has lifted Dallas to 5-1.

First is McNabb, who is playing with a sore thumb on his throwing hand. He said the tape will come off next week, when the Eagles host the New York Jets.

"I should be better then. I sure hope so," he said.

Second is a run defense that allowed the Giants 180 yards, including 64 by former teammate Dorsey Levens, who saw his first action of the season for New York.

The Giants can only wonder what might have been.

In part they still seem in shock over their playoff loss in San Francisco last season, when they blew a 38-14 third-quarter lead, then bungled the snap on what could have been the winning field goal.

They went out in the offseason to fix special teams, then lost kicker Mike Hollis and long snapper Ryan Kuehl to injuries before the season began. Then Matt Bryant went down after tearing his right hamstring while kicking a field goal against Miami.

They lost to Dallas in overtime because Fassel left too much time on the clock after Bryant's apparent game-winner and allowed the Cowboys to tie the game in regulation. And they lost Sunday because no one really got near Westbrook on a kick return.

There was more.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Giants seemed about to put the game away as Levens led a drive to the Eagles 5.

But on third down, Collins was sacked and fumbled as he waited for Jeremy Shockey to get open in the end zone, and the score remained 10-7.

"I just held the ball out and I shouldn't have," Collins said. "I thought if I had just a half-second more to get it to Shockey ..."

There's never a half-second more.

At least not for the Giants.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index