Eagles-Colts Postgame: Another Record-Setting Performance
How can the Philadelphia Eagles play so bad in the first half and end up winning the game, twice? The Eagles last-second 30-27 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football was not only a great win; it was also a record-setting win.
Apparently the Eagles are the first team in NFL history to be trailing by at least 14 points in each of their first two games of the season and win both games. Yes, that is a ridiculously obscure stat, but it's a good one for the Eagles and their fans.
As I said, the game didn't start well for the Eagles and quarterback Nick Foles. After driving down the field on an 11-play, 69-yard drive, the Eagles had to settle for a 31-yard Cody Parkey field goal. The Colts responded by driving the ball right down the field on the Eagles and capping it off with a 1-yard TD pass to Ahmad Bradshaw. The surprising thing about that drive is that the Colts ran the ball down the Eagles' throats. As a matter of fact, the Colts ran for more yards in the first quarter (69 yards) than they did in their entire Week 1 game (54) against Denver.
After that, Parkey missed a field goal and Adam Vinatieri split the uprights from 46 yards out to make it a 10-3 Colts lead. The Eagles drove down to the Colts 6 yard line, but again couldn't convert in the red zone and settled for another Parkey FG, to make the score 10-6. The Colts closed the scoring in the first half when Andrew Luck found Jack Doyle for a 2-yard touchdown pass.
At the half, the Colts had rushed for a whopping 101 yards, while holding the Eagles to only 46 yards rushing. That was a shock for an Eagles team that led the NFL in rushing last season. It was also shocking to see Foles miss so many open receivers for the second week in a row. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck had 2 TD passes, but had only thrown for 58 yards. The game was reminding me of the Eagles' playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints, when everyone assumed that Drew Brees and the Saints would come out throwing and instead ran over the Eagles defense with their sub-par rushing attack. It was an ugly first half; again, for the Eagles and it looked like it was going to be a bad loss.
Foles: 21-37-331 yards-1 TD-1 INT
McCoy: 20 carries, 79 yards, 1 TD
Sproles: 7 rec., 152 yards
Luck: 20-34-172 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Richardson: 21 carries, 79 yards, 1 fumble lost
Bradshaw: 5 rec., 26 yards, 2 TDs
When the second half started, things didn't seem to be improving for the Eagles. Vinatieri increased the lead to 20-6, but at least the Eagles defense stopped the Colts from scoring another touchdown. Then something strange happened.
Foles actually threw the ball to a wide receiver. And it was actually a good throw for a change. Cooper was held in the end zone and the Eagles got the ball on the Colts' 1 yard line on pass interference. Foles didn't actually complete the pass to Cooper, but at least he tried and it resulting in something positive for a change. McCoy punched in the short TD run and the Eagles at least showed a pulse. It was also McCoy's 50th career TD. Then the Eagles made their own break, as they stripped Trent Richardson on the Colts next possession. That gave the Eagles the ball inside the Colts' 30 yard line. Unfortunately, the Eagles went backwards, before McCoy made one of his amazing cut-on-a-dime runs and picked up 21 yards on 3rd and 15. Darren Sproles then capped off the scoring drive with a nifty 19-yard TD run, where he broke a couple of tackles to tie the game at 20-20.
At this point, Luck couldn't complete many passes and the Colts' offense was being driven by the running game. Richardson had 79 yards on 21 carries and Bradshaw had 70 yards on 13 carries. Meanwhile, Foles couldn't hit his open receivers again and most of his completions were to his running backs on flairs out of the backfield. It was a strange game, but it was tied.
Down on His Luck
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The Colts changed that with a 12-play, 80 yard drive, capped off with another short TD pass to Bradshaw (5 rec. for 26 yards, 2 TDs). Foles responded by sliding a yard short of the first down marker on the next drive before McCoy got stuffed on 3rd and 1. After the punt, the Colts looked to have regained control of the game. And they did, until T.Y Hilton fell (or was held, depending on your point of view) and Malcolm Jenkins picked off Luck, deep in Eagles territory. That's when Darren Sproles took over.
Sproles had 7 receptions on the game for 152 yards. None were bigger than has 51-yard catch and run down to the Colts' 6 yard line. A 6-yard TD pass from Foles to Jeremy Maclin (4 rec., 26 yards, 1 TD) tied the score at 27-27.
Then as if the game wasn't strange enough, the Eagles actually stopped Luck (20-for-34, 172 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) on the next drive and forced a Colts' punt to the Eagles 40 yard line. Foles hit Zach Ertz (4-86 yards) for 24 yards down to the Colts' 36, before he found his security blanket, Sproles for another 17 yards, down to the 19. Then Parkey, who was traded to the Eagles during the preseason by the Colts, drilled the game-winning 36-yard field goal as time expired.
It was the second improbable comeback for Foles and the Eagles in two games this season. Foles completed 21-of-37 passes for 331 yards, with 1 TD and 1 INT. He did that by completing more than half his passes (11) and more than half his yards (175) to his running backs on check downs out of the backfield. Eagles coach Chip Kelly seemed to indicate after the game that this was the game plan against the Colts vulnerable linebacking corps. If that was the plan, it worked. It also didn't hurt that the Eagles running game finally came to life in the second half, as McCoy finished with 79 yards on 20 carries. Not the output you would expect from the NFL's reigning rushing champ, but he made enough clutch runs when it mattered the most.
Another strange part of this game is that in spite of the fact that both teams were playing with backups along their offensive lines, neither team recorded a single sack in the game. Yes, the Eagles pressured Luck, but Foles had a relatively clean pocket from which to throw all game. That's what makes Foles' second straight shaky performance all the more baffling. I know it's strange to say a quarterback didn't play well when throwing for over 300 yards in back-to-back games, but somehow, that's how it seemed with Foles.
Nick Foles Has "Skills"
Fortunately for the Eagles, it doesn't matter how it seemed, because Foles did just enough to win both games to start the season and the Eagles remain undefeated and alone atop the NFC East with a game against division rival Washington coming up on a short week.
We can pick apart so many problems with this Eagles squad, but the only numbers that matter right now are 2 and 0, as in the Eagles are 2-0 on this young season. Oh sure, the Eagles lead the NFL in scoring with 64 points, 58 of them in the second half, but all that really matters are that 2 and that 0.