Eagles-Jaguars Postgame: A Lasting Father-Son Moment
Sitting in the stands at Lincoln Financial Field, while Jacksonville Jaguars' kicker Josh Scobee lined up his second field goal attempt, my son turned to me and said, "Well, I guess your prediction of a 34-17 Eagles win won't come true." There was 11:09 left in the second quarter and the Jags were already leading the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 17-0. Just as Scobee missed the 50-yard attempt wide left, I turned to my son and said, "I guess there's still a chance."
Then with 4:14 left in the half and the Eagles still trailing by 17-0, Scobee lined up for another field goal try, this time from 36 yards out. This time Eagles backup defensive end Brandon Bair blocked Scobee's kick. "See," I told my son, "There's still a chance for that 34-17 Eagles win."
Of course, I didn't think for a second that the Eagles could actually come back and score 34 unanswered points with how badly they were getting beaten by the Jags at that point of the game, but it was hot and only a bit of humor was going to keep us going for another half of watching terrible football by our hometown team.
- This was the first game of the season for the Eagles and Jaguars.
- The Eagles are the first team to win by 17 points after being blanked and trailing by 17 points at halftime.
- Eagles QB Nick Foles threw his first interception in the first game after throwing only 2 all last season.
- Jags receiver Allen Hurns became the first player in NFL history with a pair of TD receptions in the first quarter of his NFL debut. They were also his first two catches.
- Darren Sproles scored a 49-yard rushing TD in his first game with the Eagles.
But then something strange happened after the half. Maybe it was the frisbee dogs, who performed at halftime. Who knows. The Eagles came out and put together a 10-play, 80 yard drive that culminated in a Darren Sproles 49-yard touchdown run up the middle on 4th-and-1. The stadium went wild, if for no other reason than it was the first positive thing the Eagles offense had done all day. Of course, it also meant that there was still that chance at that 34-17 win that I predicted for the home team.
The Eagles couldn't have played any worse in the first half. They allowed Jags journeyman quarterback Chad Henne to torch them for two touchdown passes to undrafted rookie Allen Hurns, who was the first rookie to ever score touchdowns in the first quarter of his first game on his first two receptions. And that's not even the worst thing the Eagles did en route to a 17-0 halftime deficit.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had the third highest passer rating in NFL history last season (119.2), while throwing 27 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions, which was the best TD:INT ratio in NFL history. But the guy who only turned the ball over four times all last season (2 INTs, 2 fumbles), managed to turn the ball over three times in the first half of this game alone.
His first two fumbles led directly to Jacksonville touchdowns, but all the blame can't be pinned on Foles. The first one could have been called an incomplete pass and the second one was a vicious blind-side hit. Even though Foles was often off-target in the first half, he was under constant pressure, as offensive line was terrible. Then, when Foles finally drove the Eagles to the Jacksonville 5 yard line in the second quarter, he threw an ugly interception in the end zone to kill the Eagles only scoring opportunity in the opening half.
Fortunately for sun-weary fans in the stands, like me, it was all about to change after intermission.
A Tale of Two Halves
First Half Yardage
Second Half Yardage
Did you think the Eagles could win after being down 17-0 at halftime?
After Sproles energized the team and the crowd, the momentum just kept building for the Eagles in the second half. While the Eagles defense stifled the Jags offense, the Eagles offense began to find their groove. The Eagles were a horrible 3rd down defense last season, but continually stuffed the Jags on third down on Sunday. They even stuffed a 4th and 1 attempt to drive the crowd into a frenzy. A lot of that defensive success can be attributed to the fact that the Jaguars were without their best receiver in Cecil Shorts and their quarterback is the less-than-average Henne, who completed only 24 of 43 passes for 266 yards. Of course, almost all of that yardage and his only two TDs were in the first half when the Jags out-gained the Eagles 188 to 129 yards. The second half was a completely different story, as the Eagles out-gained the Jags by a 291 to 118 margin.
After Sproles scored, the Eagles defense forced three straight three-and-outs by the Jags, while closing the gap to 17-14 on a Foles TD pass to Zach Ertz for 25 yards.
On the first drive of the 4th quarter the Eagles tied it up, when rookie kicker Cody Parkey drilled his first ever professional attempt through the uprights from 51 yards out. That opened the floodgates. Foles ( 27-of-45 for 322 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) overcame his horrible first half to find his groove....and his open receivers. The Jacksonville defense bit hard on a play-fake and Foles found Jeremy Maclin wide open for a 68-yard touchdown on a 1-play drive, to give the Eagles their first lead at 24-17. Parkey tacked on another field goal to make it 27-17. And, finally, the Eagles defense tacked on a TD at the end, when Trent Cole sacked Henne and Fletcher Cox returned the ball 17 yards for the score to make it 34-17.
Hey look, 34-17. I looked at my son and we shared a look of disbelief as we happily started our long journey home amid a jubilant crowd.
I didn't think the Eagles would beat the Jaguars by that score when they trailed 17-0 at halftime, but they pulled themselves together in time and defeated an inferior opponent at home to start the season 1-0.
The Eagles won a game after looking horrible for an entire half. They won a game where their star quarterback couldn't hold onto the ball and was missing open receivers for an entire half. They won a game where their star running back didn't gain a 100 yards or score a touchdown, a year after he led the NFL in rushing and yards from scrimmage. But LeSean McCoy did help keep his team in the game with 74 yards rushing on 21 carries and 6 receptions for 41 yards. And Foles came back to led his team to a win, aided by a defense that looked much better than the unit that was ranked 29th overall last season. Well, after that horrible first quarter, that is.
The Eagles won a game when it looked like they might suffer a gut-wrenching loss at home and they provided a story that will last a lifetime for a father and son. Yep. It was a pretty good day, after all.