The game was scarily close at the end, but the bottom line is that the Philadelphia Eagles held off the surging Arizona Cardinals to come away with a 24-21 win. The home losing streak is a distant memory, as Philly won again in front of its home crowd.
This puts the red-hot Eagles at 7-5, coming off four consecutive wins. Philly is tied with the Dallas Cowboys at 7-5, and while the Cowboys have the division edge due to a head-to-head win, the two clubs do meet again in Week 17.
The Eagles face another difficult test next week when they play the high-powered Detroit Lions, a team capable of scoring plenty of points with Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush at the helm. Winning that game will really vault the Eagles into the race not only for the NFC East title but for a wild-card spot should the Cowboys take the division.
Nick Foles Has 9 Lives
A horrendous decision late in the game by Nick Foles looked as if it may have cost the Philadelphia Eagles the game. And then came the penalty flag, the Eagles got a second chance and the team went on to win the game. Despite his late struggles, Foles still played remarkably well under center.
Foles completed over 60 percent of his passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns, doing so without throwing an interception. He’s now at 19 touchdown passes to zero interceptions on the season, and his two rushing touchdowns means he’s accounted for 21 scores without tossing a pick.
Foles even ran the ball for 26 yards today. The complete list of QBs in 2013 to have thrown three or more touchdowns, no interceptions and rushed for 25+ yards in a win: Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton twice and Foles twice. It’s difficult to envision a new quarterback coming in and directing this offense much better than what Foles has done.
The big question was whether Foles could run the offense, even though he’s not a runner. Then it was whether he could win games at home. Then it was whether he could beat really good defenses. At this point, Foles has conquered every challenge he’s faced, and it’s looking like he will get every chance to prove to the management he’s the answer for 2014.
The Tight Ends Played a Major Role Today
Chip Kelly came to Philadelphia advertised as a huge tight end advocator. So far, he’s underutilized the trio he has, particularly free-agent acquisition James Casey.
Casey still didn’t make an impact today, but Brent Celek and Zach Ertz made a major impact on the offense. Celek caught four passes for 29 yards and a touchdown catch, but his best play may have been a key reception he had on an early third-down play in which he dragged a pair of defenders three yards.
Ertz totaled five grabs for 68 yards and two scores, doing something Celek has never done: catching multiple touchdowns in a regular-season game. It’s nice to see the Eagles reaping good benefits from a player they took in the top of the second round.
Billy Davis’ Defense Continues Its Bend-But-Don’t-Break Ways
Over the last eight games, the Philadelphia Eagles are the only NFL club to have allowed 21 or fewer points in every single contest.
The Eagles did allow three touchdown passes to Carson Palmer today, but they came up with a huge stop when it mattered the most. It was the second straight week the defense made a late-game stand in a one-score contest.
Philly recorded three turnovers on defense, the finest a leaping interception by safety Nate Allen near the end zone, one he was able to return 47 yards to midfield. The Eagles’ defensive line and linebackers pressured Palmer all day, recording five sacks. It was a strong performance against an offense loaded with playmakers, notably Philly killer Larry Fitzgerald.
Chip Kelly Has No Clue How to Play With a Lead in a Close Game
Sooner or later, this will cost the Philadelphia Eagles. A la the Washington Redskins in the first game and last week, the Eagles staked themselves to a big lead and narrowly held on.
What’s puzzling is that Chip Kelly seems to stick with his high-tempo offense, even in situations in which the clock needs to run down. Kelly’s decision to have Nick Foles run a keeper on a key third-down play with just over two minutes remaining was baffling. Kelly has maintained he is not a guy to put faith in time of possession, but sooner or later, it could cost the team.
Donnie Jones Gets Another Game Ball
Punters are football players too, and Donnie Jones is a good one. A week after his 70-yard punt helped seal a Philadelphia Eagles victory, Jones turned in another strong performance.
He punted eight times in all, averaging 44.8 yards per punt. Seven of those punts landed inside the opponent’s 20. Jones’ final punt was a punt that pinned the Arizona Cardinals at their own 11, but his best kick may have been the 69-yard blast he had with the Eagles facing a 4-and-25.
Jones, fresh off an NFC Special Teams Player of the Week bid, set a franchise record with seven punts inside the 20. That may very well earn Jones another Special Teams Player of the Week award.