Nov 23, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) celebrates in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Well, that’s over with. The Philadelphia Eagles did what we figured the Philadelphia Eagles would do, rolling past the Tennessee Titans, 43-24, in front of a Lincoln Financial Field crowd that seemed ready for Thanksgiving.
After all, that’s a day filled with turkey, stuffing, family and, oh yeah, an NFC East showdown with the Dallas Cowboys.
Before getting there, the Eagles had to take care of business and that’s what they did. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was efficient and strong and got the job done. LeSean McCoy ran for 130 yards and a touchdown. The special teams got another score. The defense tallied five sacks and forced three turnovers. Mark Sanchez was decent, throwing for more than 300 yards (with a couple more interceptions).
Really, the only thing you could manage to complain about is that the Eagles didn’t win by more, but at the end of the day this was a pretty dominant game for one of the NFL’s best against one of the NFL’s worst.
And now we can get on with Dallas week. Really, this game just felt like it was in the way. It was huge for the Eagles to come back and get a win after the Green Bay debacle, move to 8-3 on the season, etc., but did anyone really think that wasn’t going to happen? Did anyone in their right mind think the Eagles would actually lose this game? No, so that took a lot of the excitement out of the game because there wasn’t really anything on the line. No pressure.
That won’t be the case for the next three weeks. At Dallas, then at home for Seattle and Dallas. Win two of three and the Eagles will win the NFC East and maybe even get a first-round bye. It’s that simple. The Eagles control their destiny.
But before any of that, there was a game on Sunday and the Eagles got the scoring started really, really fast, as Josh Huff set a franchise record with a 107-yard return on the opening kickoff, making it 7-0.
That play and the early dominance by the defense (the Titans went three-and-out on their first four possessions) made it look like this game would be a real cakewalk. Darren Sproles added a four-yard touchdown run after a nice drive (set up by big runs from LeSean McCoy) and it was 14-0, and a Cody Parkey field goal from 36 yards gave the Philadelphia Eagles a 17-0 lead.
But turnovers and big plays, the combined Achilles’ heel of this team all season, reared their head again. First, Mark Sanchez made a lousy throw to Riley Cooper that was intercepted by Brandon Ghee. Shortly after, Zach Mettenberger fired a ball toward Justin Hunter. The ball was tipped by Malcolm Jenkins but floated into Hunter’s hands. He dashed down the sideline past Bradley Fletcher and into the end zone with a 4o-yard touchdown, making it 17-7.
The Birds answered with a long drive that stalled and ended with a Parkey field goal from 26 yards, making it 20-7, but back came the Titans with Mettenberger hitting Delanie Walker for 68 yards to set up a touchdown run by Shonn Greene, and it was 20-14.
Philadelphia came right back, as Sanchez hit Cooper on a beautiful ball to the Titans’ 2 on a third-and-six play. McCoy took it in from there and it was 27-14.
Tennessee drove the field again, but the Eagles’ defense stiffened and forced a short field goal with under a minute to go in the half. Sanchez moved the Eagles into field goal range before halftime, but Parkey’s 49-yard try hit the upright to keep it a 10-point game.
The Titans got the ball first to start the second half, but turned it over (see QUICK SIX OBSERVATIONS for details on that ridiculous play) to set the Eagles up at the Tennessee 33. A few plays later, Sanchez threw a perfect ball to James Casey for 14 yards and the score, making it 34-17 early in the third quarter.
Parkey added three more field goals – including a 50-yarder – to help the Philadelphia Eagles reach 43 points, a nice number as the Birds head south to take on the hated Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
QUICK SIX OBSERVATIONS:
1) I’m just going to get this out of the way: the Tennessee Titans are one of the dirtiest teams I’ve ever seen. The number of cheap shots and late hits their guys threw out there was an embarrassment. That organization should feel ashamed of itself. You’ve won two games all year. You’re out of the playoffs. Play hard, but you have no business trying to hurt guys who are actually playing for something other than a roster spot next year. Ridiculous.
2) How hilarious was that play on Tennessee’s opening drive, where Fletcher Cox got up to knock down Mettenberger’s pass? The ball bounced off his hands and into the arms of Titans’ center Brian Schwenke. Now, it was third-and-16, and the smart play by this dude would have been to go down. But big linemen don’t catch passes every day, so he takes off running. Mychal Kendricks hits him, the ball comes out, and Nate Allen recovered the fumble. It was like something out of the movie “The Replacements.”
3) The Eagles gave up 215 yards of offense in the first half, with 108 yards coming on two plays. That cannot happen. Big plays just continue to kill this team’s overall defensive effort.
4) I believe I saw Marcus Smith on the field in the fourth quarter. I didn’t see him do anything notable, but he at least had the chance to play. Last week, with everything falling apart in Green Bay, the first-round pick didn’t even see the field. It sure would be nice if this kid could contribute something down the stretch.
6) I loved that Chip Kelly sent Cody Parkey out for that 50-yarder in the closing minutes of the game. After missing from 49, Parkey had hit a few field goals but none of them looked quite right. That one from 50 was right down the middle, picture perfect, and bodes well heading into Thursday’s game.