Postgame Perspective: In control of destiny, Eagles stay on right track

Two weeks ago, when the Eagles had dropped to 4-7 and had impending doom staring them in the face — the New England game of Week 13 — did anyone think a division title was possible?

It continues to be a growing possibility.

The Eagles stunning win in New England was followed up with a key win against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Week 14. The 23-20 win, a hard-fought, grudge match of sorts, is a good test for where the Eagles are as a team.

Put the 6-7 record aside for a moment. This is a team that in two weeks has seemed to establish a will to play for each other, whether they stand by the coach completely or not.

It is most particularly noticeable on defense. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry. Those three players have been so good in the last two weeks.

Fletcher Cox may have turned in his best game of the season in Week 14, and there are other games that could easily compete with this one. He's had many good games in an obvious Pro Bowl season.

The whole group on the front line also did a nice job containing a determined LeSean McCoy. McCoy had one run of 20+ yards and was held to 74 rushing yards for the game on 20 carries. 

This game started out like so many others: offense moving, defense struggling. Secondary coverage was spacey at times. It took Byron Maxwell four quarters to finally make the kind of play needed on Sammy Watkins. He badly blew the coverage that allowed Watkins to score a 47-yard touchdown. In the fourth, he stayed step-for-step with Watkins to disrupt a third-down play.

That said, you could see the depth players stepping in again. Eric Rowe continued to show improvement in another tough test, even covering Watkins on some plays. Ed Reynolds had the best game of his career so far.

It was in the second half that all of these players started to make their impact as the game shifted. It was the offense that couldn't get moving and the defense that held down the fort.

All of that said, Sam Bradford didn't have a poor game by any stretch. He turned in one of the strongest first-half performances we've seen from him all season, completing 16 of 22 passes. In the second, his receivers didn't help him with more drops and he was pressured and knocked to the ground more. His lone interception was not his fault in the slightest. A very good play by Leonis McKelvin helped the Bills take over.

The Eagles running game, with the return of Ryan Mathews, had some balance, but was ultimately abandoned based on how the game played out. The Bills were bringing pressure and it was more advisable for the Eagles to stick to quick passes.

One such pass set up the game-winning field goal.

Bradford made a quick connection with Zach Ertz on 3rd and 3. Needing three yards, the play gained 41. The drive may have stalled in the redzone, but it gave the Eagles any form of points, which is certainly more than they could say about the last several drives.

Ultimately, the Eagles needed a win to both keep their playoff hopes alive, but to also keep momentum going headed into an extremely difficult game against one of the NFC's best, the Arizona Cardinals. A two-game winning streak against two tough AFC teams is certainly a way to build momentum after three forgettable games.

To keep pace with the Redskins while taking down two games that many had marked off as losses, given the recent performances, is certainly another step in the right direction.

The Eagles goal has been simple: to just win, especially since winning out means a playoff spot. They took care of the first game of four on Sunday and kept themselves from having to look up at another team and need further help.

To do that against one of the coaches that specializes in shutting down opponents will certainly keep the momentum going.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

Go to top button