Three days after feasting on Thanksgiving Turkey, the Philadelphia Eagles feasted on the Arizona Cardinals for a hard fought victory, 24-21.
Despite the reputation of being an innovator, Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly cooked up a familiar old-style football recipe for NFC East fans: hard fought rushing yards by running back LeSean “Shady” McCoy, a feisty passing game led by rising NFL star quarterback Nick Foles and by rookie tight end Zach Ertz two touchdown receptions. And throw in a defense that turned up the heat with three turnovers and five sacks of Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer for dessert. It turned out the be the Eagles second home victory against the ever dangerous Arizona Cardinals which turned out to be as sweet as a big slice of pumpkin pie.
The victory enabled Philly to keep pace with the Dallas Cowboys at 7-5 atop the NFC East. The game also was the Eagle’s first victory over a team with a winning record and was also the first victory over an opponent likewise competing for post season eligibility. Despite facing another top ten defense, it was the Iggles defense that appeared to be in command of the majority of the game. The team took a lead in the first quarter on Foles’ touchdown pass to seldom used tight end Brent Celek for a six yard score. The Cardinals never got closer than three points, when Palmer tossed a three-yard touchdown pass to one of his own tight ends, Jim Drey.
By the time the Eagles ran out the clock to earn their victory, they had put on an impressive defensive showing. They held Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald, who typically shreds the Birds, to one touchdown and a mere 72 receiving yards. They held the Arizona Cardinals team to only 90 yards rushing. And they took advantage of a suspect Cardinals offensive line to harass Palmer all day.
With the Eagles three turnovers, they now are at a positive seven. Contrast that to the 2012 statistic of -24 and you can see just how far this team has come. With Sunday’s performance, Foles now has 19 touchdown passes with no interceptions, just one scoring pass shy of Denver Bronco’s quarterback Peyton Manning’s all-time NFL record of 20. The second-year quarterback our of Arizona has also set the team’s franchise record of 233 passes without an interception, breaking previous Eagles’ starter Michael Vick’s 2010 record of 224.
Sunday’s victory extended Philadelphia’s winning streak to four games. It also marks the Eagles second home victory in a row, after losing ten games at home. It also begins Kelly’s winning streak after the bye week with his first win. The team continues next week at home with a very dangerous Detroit Lions squad, before playing at the Minnesota Vikings, home for the Chicago Bears, and finally ending up the season on the road against the aforementioned Cowboys – in a game that is shaping up to be for the division title.
A year ago, this Eagles team was already forcing the fans to talk about the upcoming NFL draft. What a difference a year makes…
While many view the NFC East as one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, the Eagles are working hard to change that perception. With an offense that has shown it can match up with virtually any defense in the NFL, and an emerging defense, the Iggles are becoming very good at the right time of the season. And that tastes pretty good.