It might not have been clear, from watching the Eagles’ Week 8 match up against the winless 49ers, that one was viewing the best team in the NFL playing one of the worst teams.
A bevy of mistakes, paired with some wet and rainy conditions made for an ugly affair at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday. But a look at the final score, a 33-10 Eagles victory, and their record, now 7-1 and atop the league standings, reaffims the Birds are the best of the best.
A win is a win — and here is what we saw in Philly’s sometimes ugly but still convincing victory:
Line em up
Time and time again, be it Carlos Hyde (12 rushes for 25 yards) or Matt Breida (five rushes for 17 yards), the Niners lined up to run the ball. And time and time again, the Birds defense won its battle up front, forcing eight Niners punts and tallying four sacks (Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry).
The steady pressure on San Fran’s quarterback C.J. Beathard held the passing game in check too, as the Eagles forced a key turnover in the second quarter, a Rodney McLeod interception on a tipped pass — on a rushed throw thanks to a great pass rush. A punt would follow, however, after a Wentz sack derailed the drive.
On the other line, the absence of Jason Peters was both felt and dealt with, as a few minor missteps were overcome as Halapoulvaati Vaitai filled in at left tackle. They allowed theee sacks as Carson Wentz had a tough day behind them. The run game yielded promising results in the fourth, as the line opened up a hole for LeGarrette Blount to score a touchdown on a sprint up the gut for 12 yards and a 33-7 lead.
A 24-yard pass interference penalty inside the first half’s two minute warning set up Wentz’ 18th touchdown pass on the year, a rolling out corner end zone toss to tight end Zach Ertz to give Philly a 9-0 lead after 30 minutes (Jake Elliott missed the extra point).
The lead expanded to a 17-0 advantage after a spectacular run-back on a Jalen Mills pick-six just seconds later, followed by a successful Wentz-to-Jeffery two-point conversion.
Wentz (18-for 32, 211 yards) threw a terrible pass right to Niners cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, his first blemish of the game and two plays later Breida caught a 21-yard touchdown pass to get San Francisco back into the game, 20-7. Two passes later, however, (following a Corey Clement 22-yard scamper), Wentz went deep and connected ith Alshon Jeffery on a 53-yard bomb.
As the Niners inched toward the end zone again on their net drive, the Eagles’ defense not only held them to a field goal try, but rookie Derek Barnett blocked the attempt as the Eagles took over on downs with a 27-7 lead in the fourth.
Third time’s a charm?
The Eagles converted two third downs on their first scoring drive, a 40-yard Elliott field goal, but failed on their third try of the drive as Wentz had a rare miss on a potential touchown pass to Alshon Jeffery as the ball sailed just over his outstretched arms. Still, a 3-0 lead put Philly on the board first.
They struggled more than usual on third downs, however, but converted a second field goal in the third quarter, this one a 51-yarder to go ahead 20-0. In all, the best team on third down in the entire NFL was 4-for-14.
On defense the Birds held the Niners to a 3-for-15 mark on third down themselves, with the only other Niners’ points coming on a meaningless 50-yard Robbie Gould field goal late in the fourth quarter.