Despite scoring only 6 points in the first three quarters combined, their 28 points in the fourth quarter were enough to lead the Eagles to their 8th victory of the season. After a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles didn’t even have positive yards. But they finished the game with 478 yards and 34 points, both very high numbers, especially since the game was basically played in a blizzard. Things were not looking good after the way they started the game, but their offense finally started getting going and led them to a nice win against another playoff team.
Before the game even started, the Eagles were at multiple advantages. First of all, the Lions play in a dome, so they’re not used to playing in snowy weather unless they travel to Chicago or Green Bay for rival games. But normally, they don’t have to deal with any weather at all other than the predetermined temperatures of the stadium. This clearly affected passing, as evidenced by Matthew Stafford’s 10/25 passing for only 148 yards and no TDs. Second, starting RB Reggie Bush re-aggravated an injury in warm-ups, forcing him to miss the entire game. Since Bush is normally such a big part of their offense, and the passing game was greatly affected by the snow, it made it very difficult for the Lions to score points.
In fact, the Eagles got very lucky due to the weather because it caused the Lions to fumble an astounding 7 times, losing three of them. And two of those fumbles were in a position where the Lions were prepared to get points, meaning they could’ve easily changed the dynamic of the game by getting ahead early. In addition, I felt like the referees were making some bad calls that favored the Eagles. In one drive in particular, it allowed the Eagles to keep a drive alive that would’ve ended on fourth down, and another penalty allowed them to try again on a 2-point conversion, which they ended up getting.
But either way, I think the Eagles still showed they were a better team. LeSean McCoy put up a career-high 217 yards on 29 carries, as well as tacking on 2 TDs. And if it weren’t for a debacle of a run by DeSean Jackson in the beginning of the first quarter that lost him 10 yards, they would’ve finished the game with over 300 yards rushing, more yards than the Lions totaled overall! In fact, the Lions were giving up just over 40 rushing yards per game in the last few games, which makes it even more impressive.
Nick Foles didn’t have one of his better games, but it was still enough to get the win. He did also throw his first INT, and it was before his 20th TD pass of the season, meaning he remained tied with Peyton Manning for the most TD passes to start the season without an INT. Foles did add a rushing TD though, which surprisingly his third of the season and is tied for fifth in the league among QBs. Chris Polk also added a TD, his first of the season.
Jackson and Riley Cooper were an effective 1-2 punch at WR once again, combining for 131 yards and a TD. unfortunately, last week’s surge in receptions for TEs was a one hit wonder it seems. Brent Celek had 2 catches for 29 yards, and Zach Ertz didn’t have a single catch. Obviously, the passing game can’t be judged too much because of the snow, but it’d still be nice to see them targeted a bit more often.
The fact that the Eagles were able to basically shut down one of the best offenses in the league proves that their defense is becoming legitimate. Even though Bush didn’t play and the weather was bad, they still stopped them from getting much going on offense despite the one TD in the first quarter. And, they shut down Calvin Johnson to only 49 yards on 3 catches. The 3 catches was tied for his least amount on the season, and it was the first time in 7 games that he had less than 80 receiving yards. Those stats show that the Eagles are starting to do a lot of things right on defense. Plus, they went yet another game giving up 21 points or less, their ninth in a row.
The one thing that disappointed me was their kick coverage. Jeremy Ross had both a punt and kick return TD, which is completely unacceptable to give up. While special teams in terms of kicking and punting has been solid recently, giving up two return TDs is not good at all. But, it doesn’t worry me much since they did so well on defense and the weather was a major factor.
Now, with a record of 8-5, they officially can’t have a losing season. That’s good, right? Well, it’s a heck of a lot better than I thought they would do, but it doesn’t in any way guarantee them a playoff spot. Next week’s game against the Vikings will probably be an easy one, especially if Adrian Peterson is too hurt to play. But, with Dallas at 7-5 and the current head-to-head tiebreaker over the Eagles, it’s necessary that they continue to win out with how good the NFC wild card teams could be. While losing one of the next two games would be bad, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But, week 17’s game against the Cowboys will turn into a must-win that will determine their fate, and I’d much rather have clinched a playoff spot before then by winning the next two games.