It took five weeks. Longer actually, if you count the fact that the Eagles had not won a football game outside of the state of New Jersey (the Jets and Giants) since last Thanksgiving.
But the Eagles finally played the way Chip Kelly said they would when he continued molding the team in his own image last spring.
“After what we were able to do in the preseason I think everyone was waiting for this,” Sam Bradford said.”Obviouslyit was a great feeling, to go out there and do this today and we’ve just got to build.”
In a 39-17win at home Sunday, Philly outgainedthe Saints 519-375 and saw solid contributions from each phase of the game, most notably the pass rush and offensive line. They even overcame two end zone interception passes in the first half from Bradford to win both the turnover battle 4-2 (thanks to a Walter Thurmond fourth down interception and three recovered fumbles)irrelevant to move to 2-3.
Here are the main reasons why the Eagles are still alive in the race for the NFC East:
Fletcher Cox (and the Eagles pass rush)
Drew Breeswas roughed up by Fletcher Cox three times, fumbling twice and recovering one. All game, the superstar quarterback was not given much time to release the football, and in concert with some inexperienced receivers was unable to get into rhythm.
Bennie Logan and Bryan Bramanalso got into the act with a QB sack apiece, prolonging the recently injured Brees’ misery.
The Eagles third forced fumble and recovery came with the Saints driving in the fourth quarter, after a hard, DeMeco Ryans hit jolted loose a ball caught by Michael Hoomanawanui (which was then recovered by Byron Maxwell).
“It’sa win,” Cox said.”Lets not pat ourselves on the back, like I have said numerous times we have to keep that chip on our shoulder and get ready for Monday Night Football [next week against the Giants].”
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Moving the chains
The Eagles had 34 first downs Sunday, and they avoided the plague of three-and-outs that had haunted them through four games.
In all, Bradford spread the ball around to 10 different receivers as he compiled 333 yards through the air on 32-for-45 passing, adding two touchdowns after histwo ugly picks early. With the Eagles run game able to contribute 186yards to the cause, the offense was no longer one dimensional and allowed the Eagles offense to run at full strength.
“Those guys were unbelievable today,” Bradford said, crediting the makeshift offensive line (which happened to stay healthy all game) for the offensive success. “not only in the passing game but the run. The guys up front were phenomenal. I think I went to the ground maybe once today.”
The offensive highlight came, no doubton Josh Huff’s 41-yard touchdown grab and run (and somersaulting leap over the pylon) in the first half to get the Eagles on the board. Brent Celek scored the other Eagles touchdown on a 13-yard catch in the third.
The Eagles got all three of their running backs involved in a big way, spreading the wealth as DeMarco Murray (20 rushes for 83 yards and a touchdown, seven catches for 37 yards), Ryan Mathews (eight rushes for 73 yards and a touchdown, five catches for 44 yards) and Darren Sproles(37 total yards)each made an impact on the game, offering changes of pace when needed and several different looks for the Saints defense.
“We have a lot of playmakers on offense,” Murray said.”I think Sam did a great job looking through his reads and finding the guy who was open. The yards after catch help tremendously.”
Mathews scored to put the Eagles ahead 17-10 in the third quarter, while Murray added a four-yard TD scamper late in the fourth to add some insurance after Thurmond’s 43-yard interception return deep into the red zone.