One of the big differences in the Eagles win on Sunday night is that they made plays while the Cowboys didn’t. Think about all the plays the Eagles made.
* Brent Celek made a huge catch down the left sideline. That led to a TD.
* Jason Avant made a key catch down the right sideline. That led to a TD.
* Mychal Kendricks had a FF and an INT.
* Connor Barwin batted down a 4th down pass.
* 3 of Alex Henery’s KOs were for touchbacks. And he hit a 47-yard FG.
* Donnie Jones nailed a 56-yard punt late in the game to back Dallas up.
* DeSean Jackson had a 23-yard PR that gave the Eagles very good field position.
* Cary Williams broke up the 2-point conversion attempt.
* Brandon Boykin broke up a deep pass to Bryant and then picked off the pass at the end.
* Chris Polk caught a 3rd down pass and turned it into a gain of 34. That set up the FG.
* LeSean McCoy converted a pair of 3rd/1 runs on the TD drive in the 4th quarter.
* James Casey had a crucial block on Bryce Brown’s TD run. That took out 2 defenders.
The Cowboys won the battle on the LOS. They didn’t dominate the Eagles, but they did win the overall battle. Dallas out-gained the Eagles, 417 to 366. The Eagles were better on 3rd downs. They were better in the Red Zone. Dallas kicked 3 FGs. You aren’t going to win a big game kicking FGs. You must score TDs.
The Eagles simply made more key plays.
This feels kinda weird. In the past, the Eagles were the team that didn’t make the plays. Remember Jeremy Maclin dropping the key pass against the Falcons in 2011 and then fumbling late against SF? There was the Ronnie Brown disaster vs SF. Jason Avant made critical mistakes in a loss at Buffalo and then Juqua Parker jumped offside to seal the game. There was the loss to the Cardinals when Asante Samuel decided to jump an underneath route and left Kurt Coleman 1-on-1 with Larry Fitzgerald. Go back to 2010. There was the playoff loss to the Packers. David Akers missed 2 FGs. Michael Vick forced a downfield throw to Riley Cooper, who then compounded the problem by not breaking up the pass. There was a midseason game against the Titans that was filled with little moments that cost the Eagles the game. And on and on and on.
The 2013 Eagles have started to make the key plays. Celek has made some really tough catches. Same for Riley Cooper. Nick Foles is a good Red Zone QB. Brandon Boykin has 2 Red Zone INTs and a FF down there. He’s sealed 2 wins with INTs. Shady McCoy has dominated the 4th quarter in wins over TB, GB, DET and DAL. Donnie Jones has hit some clutch punts that have been crucial in wins.
We need to see if this continues into the future, but it is a great sign for now. It will be even better if the Eagles can find a Safety who can be a consistent playmaker.
* * * * *
The other day I wrote about the fact the Eagles are now a running team.
LeSean McCoy not only led the NFL in rushing yards, but he also led in rushing attempts. Did you ever think an Eagles RB would lead the NFL in carries? Duce Staley was 4th in 1999, Andy Reid’s first year. The difference is that Reid wanted to throw, but didn’t have the QB or weapons. Kelly wanted to run and took advantage of his stud RB.
The Eagles led the NFL in rushing. They were 2nd in TDs, 4th in team rushing attempts and 1st in yards per carry.
Conversely, the Eagles finished 10th in rushing defense. They were 4th in the league in yards per carry.
So…how weird is it to know the Eagles can run the ball and stop the ball? This is what you always wanted, Eagles fans. Enjoy it.