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Eagles-Lions Postgame: A Winter Wonderland
I couldn't see much sitting in Lincoln Financial Field today during the Philadelphia Eagles game versus the visiting Detroit Lions. No, it wasn't because I have a bad seat, it's because a blizzard ripped through the region right before kickoff, dumping up to six inches of snow on the field and severely limiting visibility.
The stadium workers used shovels and blowers throughout the game to keep the yard lines and hash marks as snow-free as possible, but it wasn't really working. Referee Ed Hoculi even had to flip the coin twice to determine the opening possession because the snow was deep enough to keep it on its side on the first flip. Heck, there was even a point in the first quarter where I couldn't see to the other side of the field, so I can't imagine what the players on the field had to deal with.
Foles - 11-22-179-1-1
McCoy - 29-217-2
Jackson - 4-59-1
Stafford - 10-25-148-0-0
Bell - 23-69-1
Johnson - 3-49-0
Apparently, the snow was a little too much for Nick Foles and the Eagles in the first half, as he threw his first interception of the season and the Eagles couldn't get anything going offensively. The Lions led by 8-0 at halftime and the Eagles barely had positive yardage on offense.
The Eagles had six offensive possessions in the first half. Besides the interception, the Eagles punted four times and turned it over on downs the other time. The turnover on downs was on the Detroit 10-yard line because, apparently, both teams felt that it was impossible to even kick an extra point in the snowy conditions. The only kicking attempt during the entire game was a David Akers extra point that was blocked. The Lions weren't doing much better in the first half, as they lost two fumbles in the first half and actually fumbled the ball seven times throughout the course of the game, losing three of them all together.
It wasn't much better for the Eagles as the second half started when Jeremy Ross returned a Donnie Jones punt 58 yards for a touchdown on the Eagles second possession of the third quarter. The Lions couldn't convert the 2-point conversion, and led 14-0 in a game that was starting to look like a repeat of the Eagles-Cowboys game earlier in the season.
Then, with about six and a half minutes left in the third quarter, the snow let up and the Eagles offense came to life like Frosty the Snowman.
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Foles (11-for-22 for 179 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) led the Eagles on a five-play, 74-yard touchdown drive to cut the lead to 14-6 on a pass to DeSean Jackson (4-59-1). After the Lions had to punt, the Eagles took over as the third quarter ended. Seeing as how the Eagles hadn't scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter in the last month, the home crowd wasn't exactly thrilled with the prospect of having to mount a comeback in the snow.
Just then, LeSean McCoy decided to stop dancing behind the line of scrimmage and start attacking the holes and running north and south. He started off with a 40-yard touchdown run that tied the score after a 2-point conversion. The home crowd went wild, but it was a short-lived celebration.
Alex Henery's ensuing kickoff was returned 98 yards for Ross' second return TD of the game. There we were. Sitting in the freezing cold, snow swirling around, and the Eagles blew their momentum within 10 seconds.
Luckily for the fans, McCoy wasn't done yet. McCoy added a 57-yard TD run on the next possession to give the Eagles a 22-20 lead they would not relinquish. McCoy made sure of that by rushing for a franchise-record 217 yards, on 29 carries (7.5 average), against a defense that was ranked No.3 in the NFL against the run coming into the game and had held their last five opponents to 1.6 yards per carry. It was a performance worthy of the new NFL rushing yardage leader, but it was shocking considering that Detroit DTs Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh normally crush opposing running backs. Give credit to Eagles center Jason Kelce and guards Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis for dominating the Lions D-line in the second half, as the Eagles rushed for 299 yards on the day.
Foles added a 1-yard TD run. And Chris Polk scored a 38-yard touchdown, subbing for an obviously winded McCoy, to set the final score at 34-20. As a matter of fact, the Eagles scored a touchdown on their last five possessions before running out the clock to end the game.
As you might have noticed, the Lions scored two touchdowns on special teams, which means the Eagles defense only allowed one TD to the explosive Lions offense. The weather conditions certainly helped in the first half, but it didn't stop the Eagles from lighting up the scoreboard in the second half. The Eagles defense deserves credit for their part in this win.
Reggie Bush slipped in the snow during pre-game warm-ups and didn't play in the game. That left Joique Bell as the Lions leading ball carrier with 69 yards on 23 carries. Unfortunately for the Lions, he also lost two fumbles in the red zone in the first half. As a team, the Lions only gained 80 yards on 33 carries, but that wasn't the most impressive feat for this Eagles defense.
The Eagles effectively contained Lions QB Matthew Stafford and the best receiver in the NFL, Calvin Johnson. Stafford couldn't seem to hold onto the football in the first half, as he fumbled three snaps. He didn't lose any of those, but he did eventually lose one in the fourth quarter. Stafford also completed just 10 of his 25 passes for 148 yards and no touchdowns against the worst pass defense in the entire NFL. That shouldn't be possible with a receiver like Johnson, but Megatron only had 3 catches for 49 yards in the game and was a non-factor.
Foles' interception was the only blemish on this game by the time it was over. His misfire, into a blinding snowstorm, was understandable under the conditions and Foles was going to throw one eventually. It's just a shame he came one TD pass short of tying Peyton Manning for the NFL record of throwing 20 TD passes without an interception to start a season. As it is, he still holds the Eagles franchise record for throwing 237 passes without an interception. Not too shabby.
Oh well, Foles will have to be happy with the fact that the Eagles (8-5) have now won five straight games and have sole possession of first place in the NFC East, pending the outcome of the Dallas Cowboys (7-5) game with the Chicago Bears on Monday night.
Personally, I'll never forget this game played in a stadium that looked like a snow globe and all of the problems of the first half will be forgotten since the Eagles got hot in the Winter Wonderland at Lincoln Financial Field and got the win.