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Eagles-Saints Postgame: A Win is a Win
The Eagles offense looked like an Edsel for most of the first four games of this season, yet they gained over 300 yards in the first half on Sunday against the Saints and actually did better in the second half of their 39-17 win over the New Orleans Saints. Go figure.
The Eagles outplayed the Saints in the first half, but two horrible Sam Bradford interceptions into the endzone kept this game close at halftime, as the Eagles only had a 10-7 lead. Luckily for Bradford and his teammates, it wasn't close in the second half.
Once Bradford stopped throwing horrible passes directly to the Saints defenders, the Eagles offense scored points at will. Of course, it also helped that the Eagles defense stepped up with their best game of the season.
DE Fletcher Cox was the star of the game for the Eagles with two forced fumbles on sacks and even recovered one of the fumbles. He was a one-man wrecking crew and probably saved the Eagles season to get them to 2-3 in the pitiful NFC East.
The defense also forced a third turnover, as safety Walter Thurmond intercepted Saints QB Drew Brees and returned it 44 yards to the Saints 4 yard line, to set up DeMarco Murray's 4-yard TD run. That iced the game for the Eagles.
Now it's great that the Eagles won this game and saved their season, but we need to keep in mind that the Saints defense might just be the worst in the NFL.
Yes, Bradford had a nice statistical day (32-45, 335 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs), but against even a decent defense, his horrible INTs would have led to a loss. The Eagles got lucky, but it doesn't matter at this point. A win is a win, even if it's a gift.
Drew Brees was surprisingly under pressure all day against an Eagles defense that hadn't generated any pass rush in the first four games of the season. The Eagles sacked Brees five times and forced those two fumbles by Cox. Brees completed 26-of-43 passes for 335 yards, with 2 TDs and 1 INT, but one of those TDs was a garbage time TD, with the Eagles up by 25 points.
The Eagles defense also did well against the run again, holding the Saints to under 100 yards. The Saints only ran the ball 20 times this game, but maybe that's because defensive coordinator Billy Davis learned something from that playoff loss in 2013 where he played nickel defense all game and the Saints ran all over the Eagles. It also helped that Darren Sproles was on the Eagles in this one instead of the Saints.
Sproles only rushed for 27 yards on 5 carries, but the rest of the Eagles running game finally got on track. Ryan Matthews had 73 yards and a TD on 8 carries and DeMarco Murray even found some running room for the first time all season. Murray rushed for 83 yards on 20 carries, including that 4-yard TD run. It was nice to see Chip Kelly have a balanced offense for once and it's not a surprise that it led to a win.
We also can't overlook the nice game by the offensive line that opened holes in the running game and didn't allow a single sack all game. It was also nice that LT Jason Peters and RT Lane Johnson got through the entire game while playing injured.
Of course, even in a win, there were some negatives. Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis seems incapable of kicking an extra point. He did manage to nail 4 FGs, but the guy must have some sort of mental block when it comes to extra points. Maybe Chipper should just start going for two. I know, I'm nitpicking here.
The Eagles won a game at home for the first time in four tries, dating back to last season. It isn't an understatement to say this win saved their season.
NFC East Standings
New York Giants
Did the Eagles Save Their Season With This Win?
Going into Week 5, the rest of the NFC East was 2-2 and the Redskins lost to Atlanta to drop to 2-3 along with the Eagles. The Cowboys got crushed by the Patriots to drop them to 2-3, as well. We'll also assume they won't be winning much, if ever, without QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant. for the next few weeks The Giants beat a bad 49ers team on Sunday night to take control of the pathetic NFC East, for now, with a 3-2 record.
Yes, the Eagles lost to both the Cowboys and Redskins, which is not good. But they host the Giants next Monday night, with a chance to take the lead in the division, which is something that even the most optimistic Eagles fans wouldn't have envisioned after last week's crushing defeat to the Redskins. And yes, some of us even declared the season over last week.
Sam Bradford's Most Consistent Pass Play
All that being said, the Eagle could easily go out and lay yet another egg against he Giants and once again feel the wrath of the Philly fans. I honestly don't know how to read this team anymore. The only thing we know for sure is that Bradford isn't a franchise quarterback.
Bradford may show flashes of greatness once in a while, but sitting in stands today, I heard other fans (Not me) wondering whether or not it was time to give Mark Sanchez a shot. I mean, there is no greater indictment of a player than to wonder if replacing him with Mark Sanchez would be an upgrade. Sheesh!
But Bradford eventually stopped throwing passes directly to the other team in the endzone and the Eagles crushed an obviously inferior opponent to save their season. That buys him at least one more week before the howls from the stands could become deafening.
The Eagles saved their season by beating the Saints. And maybe there won't be all kinds of rumors about which college team Chip Kelly will be coaching next year. Or maybe there will. Now all they need to do is not throw it away (again) next week against the Giants. Of course, that wouldn't be a surprise with this team.