Most everybody expected the Eagles to beat the Giants on Sunday, but there was a surprise twist: They couldn't have done it without Chance Warmack.
Filling in at left guard for the injured Stefen Wisniewski, Warmack appeared to struggle early in the contest. The fifth-year veteran failed to reach some of his landmarks in the running game and lost his footing on a number of occasions. Pretty much the same issues that had prevented Warmack from winning the job or holding it down in the first place.
Only this time, Warmack seemed to get more comfortable as the game wore on, creating running lanes and holding his own in protection — and the Eagles' offensive line became a cohesive unit in the process.
"That's football," Warmack said following the Eagles' 34-29 win over the Giants at New York. "You get a feel, and sometimes it comes faster than others. After you get a feel for it, that's called reading the game.
"I felt like a little kid out there. It was good to play football and not think about anything, just go."
Signed as a free agent in March, and his contract subsequently extended in September, Warmack already had multiple opportunities to earn more playing time. Prior to Sunday, none of the chances had gone particularly well.
Warmack started Week 3 at left guard after Isaac Seumalo played himself out of the job, but he didn't perform at a high level and quickly found himself in a rotation with Wisniewski. The experiment ended after three weeks. Then with the injury to Wisniewski against the Rams, Warmack got another shot, only to wind up being benched for the second half for Seumalo.
The Eagles' reclamation project appeared to have hit a wall, but Warmack never gave up.
"Are you going to watch film and get better, or are you gonna to put your head down," Warmack said. "I don't care how bad I get beat, I'm gonna keep coming. That's my motto. Keep coming, keep fighting, keep playing. That's the game."
It may have helped Warmack was able to start and finish the entire game. It was the 26-year-old's eighth appearance of the season and his second start, but the first in which he played every snap (or even half).
Warmack refused to blame his previous poor play, though, on the quick hooks.
"I can't use that as an excuse," Warmack said. "Whatever happened in the game, I have to take that head-on, learn from that and get better. Whatever the situation is, accept that and keep moving."
The Eagles ran the football 27 times against the Giants for 108 yards — a solid 4.0 average. Nick Foles was sacked only once and hit a total of seven times, as the O-line was generally able to provide a clean pocket and keep the quarterback upright.
Obviously, all five guys up front deserve credit for the success of the offense. However, unlike the rest of the unit, Warmack didn't have nearly a full season's worth of games to prepare for the Giants.
"Great job," Eagles center Jason Kelce said. "(The Giants) have a big front, so this is a good game for him. He's a big guy, and it's going to be hard to overpower a guy like that.
"I was really happy for him. They give you a lot of different looks at times and they can make it challenging, and he listened, he was locked in and he did his job."
Foles called Warmack's performance, and the ability of the Eagles to overcome injuries all season, a "story."
"I've worked with him on scout team. I've seen him work every single day," Warmack said. "Going in there in this environment, (he) did an awesome job."
Everyone knew Warmack, the 10th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, has this in him, if not more. That's why the Eagles went out and signed him despite his four disappointing seasons with the Titans, reuniting him with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, his tutor at Alabama.
Sunday was a sign that Warmack is continuing to improve, and he'll be ready when his number is called again. If and when that time comes, this most recent outing could serve as a foundation of sorts moving forward.
"That's what it's all about," Warmack said. "Once you feel comfortable with what you're doing, just build off of that."