PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles paid tribute to Brian Dawkins on Sunday night with a rousing pregame ceremony in a fan-filled plaza inside Lincoln Financial Field and then honored him with a dazzling halftime show complete with video highlights in a darkened stadium, laser lights, fireworks and Merrill Reese.
But the best way to honor one of the franchise's and city's most popular players was to beat the hated Giants, and with yet another late scoring drive, the Eagles did just that.
Thanks to Alex Henery's 26-yard field goal with 1:49 left and a missed 54-yard attempt by Lawrence Tynes (actually two of them) with 10 seconds left, the Eagles persevered against the defending NFL champs and will awaken on this first day of October at 3-1 and in first place in the NFC East.
And while nothing has come easy in the season's first quarter — certainly not this often baffling 19-17 victory — the Eagles will savor their three victories by a total of four points and head to western Pennsylvania to take on the Steelers on Sunday knowing that things could still be a lot better, and frankly, a lot worse.
This one was typical Giants-Eagles with equal parts head-banging and head-scratching.
No Miracle of the Meadowlands-styled comeback was needed on this night — just a well-crafted offensive drive that went from the Philly 17 to the New York 9 and then a little luck on the Giants' final possession.
Thanks to a poor pass interference call by the newly-returned regular officials, the Giants had advanced to the Eagles 27 and were well within range for Tynes.
However, the Giants returned the gift penalty with their own present. Ramses Barden was called for offensive pass interference to move New York back to the 36.
An incomplete pass left just 15 seconds on the clock and rather than run another play to try to get closer, Giants coach Tom Coughlin sent out Tynes.
Tynes was wide left on his first try and sent the Eagles' crowd into a frenzy — a frenzy that became frozen when fans realized that Andy Reid had called timeout just before the snap in an attempt to freeze Tynes.
Visions of "Fire Reid Now!" signs flashed through the minds of just about everybody in the joint when Tynes lined up for his re-boot.
Fortunately for Reid, the Eagles and the psyche of a football-inflamed region, Tynes' second attempt came up about four yards short.
"I don't believe in icing a kicker," Michael Vick told NBC's Michelle Tafoya in the on-the-field, postgame interview. "Let him get up there and do what he do. It's tough, man. … Football can take years off your life."
Especially when you're playing behind the patchwork offensive line that Vick is playing behind.
He was hounded, harassed and hit often by the Giants ferocious front, especially in the first half, which was largely a punting clinic until the final possessions before halftime.
But Vick and both offenses picked up the pace in the second half, although the Eagles nearly lamented four drives of 50 yards or more that produced field goals instead of touchdowns and allowed the Giants a chance to hang around.
"This is what it's all about," Vick said. "I challenged the guys up front. We knew it was going to be a tough, physical game."
When it was over, it was hard to figure out what was more amazing — the fact that the Eagles ran the ball 36 times (24 times for 172 yards in the second half ) or the fact that they didn't commit a single turnover.
Those stats were not a coincidence.
Has Reid learned his lesson and realized that a balanced attack will win games and keep his starting quarterback healthy?
That analysis is for the days ahead.
What was instantly made obvious by this win is that these Eagles have a resiliency and a refuse-to-lose core about them.
They are a flawed team, but in this current mediocrity-filled NFL, who isn't?
On a night designed to honor one of the fiercest warriors ever to wear an Eagle uniform, they fought through adversity and made just enough plays to come away with a desperately needed victory.
The night began with Brian Dawkins pumping his fist and shouting "Hallelujah!"
Eagles fans may have left doing the same.