Well that certainly was exciting, wasn't it?
The first game of the Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia ended with the Eagles barely holding on for a thrilling 33-27 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night. I say holding on because the Eagles absolutely dominated the Redskins in the first half while building a 26-7 lead and even extended the lead to 33-7 early in the third quarter.
The Eagles played a very good game on both sides of the ball, led by LeSean McCoy. McCoy (career-high 31 carries for 184 yards and 1 TD) and the Eagles offense drove up and down the field early in the game, but it didn't lead to immediate results.
Michael Vick led the offense down the field on the opening drive, but his throw in the red zone was deemed to be a backwards lateral that was tipped by Ryan Kerrigan and DeAngelo Hall picked it up and ran 75 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles took the ensuing kickoff and drove right down the field again for an Alex Henery field goal to make it 7-3 Redskins.
At this point the Eagles had run 18 offensive plays for 121 yards and Redskins' quarterback Robert Griffin III hadn't even taken a snap yet. Of course, Alfred Morris (12 carries for 45 yards and 1 TD) fumbled on the first Redskins offensive play, so maybe they were better off with their defense on the field. Then again, with the frenetic pace that Kelly's offense was establishing, you could see the Redskins players wearing down early.
The Redskins defense looked confused as Vick connected with DeSean Jackson (7 receptions for 104 yards and 1 TD) on a touchdown where Washington wasn't getting any pressure on the QB. Then it got even worse for the Redskins.
RG3 threw a terrible interception and then made a bad pitch in the end zone that Morris had to fall on for a safety. That made the score 12-7 and gave the Redskins three turnovers in the first quarter. That's amazing when you consider that the Redskins only turned the ball over 14 times in 16 games last season and the Eagles only forced 13 turnovers (last in the NFC) last season.
Still, I had an uneasy feeling that the score was only 12-7 in a game the Eagles were so thoroughly dominating.
The Eagles gave themselves a little breathing room when Vick hit a wide open Brent Celek for one touchdown and then ran up the middle for another score, when the entire Washing defense followed McCoy on a fake. That made it 26-7 at halftime and the stats were even worse than the score. At the half the Eagles had amassed 322 yards of offense to only 75 for Washington. The Eagles also had a decided advantage in first downs by a 21 to 3 margin.
Eagles' First Win
Why did the Eagles beat the Redskins on MNF?
RG3 opened the second half with another interception and McCoy had one of the most amazing runs you will ever see to make it 33-7. Then, something happened to turn the game around.
Either the Eagles defense got lazy, they finally realized that they aren't this good, or maybe RG3 just knocked off a little rust. You see, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan decided not to play RG3 at all in the preseason, so this was the first live game action he had seen since he was injured in last year's playoffs.
Griffin still missed wide open receivers in the second half, but at least he was able to drive his team for a few scores to close the gap on the Eagles. He just wasn't able to pull off the miracle after Washington could recover the onside kick. RG3 finished 30-for-49 for 329 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. That stat like looks OK, but he didn't look right all game and it cost his team the game.
Vick didn't have a great game, but 15-for-25 passing for 203 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions is good enough when the running game is working as well as it was for the Eagles. Vick added 54 yards and a TD on 9 carries and of course he was credited with a fumble on that lateral that was returned for a touchdown.
The funny thing about this game is that the Eagles ran the ball more than they threw it. I'm sure that happened once or twice when Andy Reid was the coach, but for the life of me I can't remember that ever happening with Reid in charge. Kelly had the Redskins faking injuries to try to slow his offense down in the first half, but when he tried to slow it down a bit in the second half to milk the clock, it backfired on the rookie head coach. I still think it was the right thing to do, but you have to wonder if Kelly won't keep his foot on the gas pedal from now on after almost blowing such a big lead in his first NFL game.
So Chip Kelly got a win in his very first NFL game and I'm sure there will be Eagles fans talking about the playoffs and the Super Bowl and plenty of other nonsense. I enjoyed the game, but I'm not ready to believe in any of that just yet.
Let's wait to see how this team does against a better football team, with a good quarterback who isn't rusty. I don't believe in this defense and am convinced that side of the ball will lead to more losses than wins during this season. But that is a discussion for another day. For now, the Eagles looked like a team capable of winning a few games and being just as exciting as advertised. That's a start.
If nothing else it was nice to not hear, "Cough, cough. OK, injuries" at the start of Kelly's press conference.
What did you think of Chip Kelly;s first game as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles?