Eagles

Eagles-Giants: Roob's 10 Observations

Eagles-Giants: Roob's 10 Observations

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I don't know what is a bigger surprise — 33 carries for the running backs or a 61-yard game-winning field goal by a guy who just got here two weeks ago.

Wow!

The Eagles became only the ninth team in NFL history to win a game despite allowing 24 fourth-quarter points, beating the Giants, 27-24, at the Linc (see breakdown).

So here you go: 10 observations from another wild Eagles win over the Giants!

1. This is what happens when you run the football.  

2. OK, and onto Jake Elliott. Goodness, gracious. This kid, playing in his second NFL game, made the sixth-longest field goal in NFL history to cap another wild Eagles-Giants game. He broke the Eagles' record of 59 yards — set in 1979 by Tony Franklin at Dallas — and his 61-yarder as time expired is the third-longest game-winner ever and the longest since — get ready — Matt Bryant's 62-yarder against the Eagles in Tampa in 2006. Elliott, who nailed a big 46-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter, may become the greatest kicker ever or he may go down simply as a footnote in team history. But for one afternoon, he was Bobby Thomson, Michael Jordan and Kris Jenkins all in one. Unforgettable moment.

3. On a day when the passing game never really got going, Doug Pederson finally committed to the running game, and, not surprisingly, the running game answered. The Eagles' running backs on Sunday combined for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. Including Carson Wentz's 22 yards, the Eagles piled up 193 rushing yards, and they needed every one of them. After last week's debacle in Kansas City — 13 carries for the backs the entire game, just five in the second half — Pederson finally recognized what sticking to the running game can do for an offense and for a team. It moves the chains. It takes pressure off the quarterback. It keeps the defense on the field. It lets the offensive line tee off on the defensive line. It gets the backs into a rhythm. It's not that complicated.

4. That said, the Giants had scored one touchdown in their first two games and they hadn't scored more than 20 points in their last eight games — the equivalent of more than half a season. Then they scored 24 points in the fourth quarter, and I don't care how many guys you're missing, that just can't happen. Yes, the Eagles lost Fletcher Cox and Jordan Hicks and yes, they were down three defensive backs. But 24 points in a fourth quarter can't happen.  

5. Jason Kelce has been criticized a lot, but he was excellent Sunday. He was a big reason the Eagles were able to run the ball so well, getting out ahead of LeGarrette Blount and using his athleticism. It was Kelce that sprung Corey Clement on his 15-yard TD run. It was also Kelce out in front of Wendell Smallwood's 20-yard gain with three minutes left. Kelce may not be a prototypical massive 320-pound center, but when the Eagles run the ball like they did Sunday — 30 carries for the backs — Kelce is an effective center.

6. Wentz did not have a good day Sunday (see report card). Wasn't clicking. He hit on 21 of 31 passes, but for only 176 yards and without a completion of 20 yards — the first time the Eagles haven't had a 20-yard pass play in a game in 16 years. He never looked comfortable. Never got into a rhythm. That said, with seven seconds left, he fired a laser to Alshon Jeffery that gave the Eagles a chance. That's what I love about this kid. What happened in the first 59 minutes, 53 seconds of the game didn't matter. He found Jeffery for 19 yards — his longest pass of the day — to set up the ridiculous ending. It wasn't always pretty, but the kid is something special.

7. I hated going for it on 4th-and-8 from the Giants' 43-yard line with 2:29 left before halftime. Hated it. That's maybe a 15 percent play. Punt 'em deep and let your defense go to town and maybe you get the ball back with good field position before halftime. You have field position and you have momentum. Why give up both? You gave life to a Giants team that at that point had scored one offensive touchdown in 2½ games. What was Doug thinking? As it turned out, the defense bailed Pederson out with a brilliant goal-line stand. But that could have cost the Eagles the game.

8. Zach Ertz has 266 career catches and three fumbles, and that's an exceptional ratio. That said, that fumble, coming in the fourth quarter right on the heels of a Giants touchdown, simply can't happen. Ertz had a first down, but he was carrying the football out away from his body with one hand, and Landon Collins is too good a safety to not make a play there. Ertz, who also dropped a touchdown (before catching one on the next play), did have eight catches for 55 yards, but he has to be better in such a key spot.

9. Love the way all the running backs ran the football finally given a chance to shine. Blount, who didn't get a carry last week, ran 12 times for 67 yards and Smallwood finally got a chance to get into a rhythm. After getting just five carries in the first two games, he was 12 for 71. I think he's a really good back, and we finally saw that Sunday. And let's not forget the undrafted rookie, Corey Clement, whose 15-yard touchdown tied the game at 21. All it takes is a commitment to the running game, and we finally got that. We all saw the result.

10. There's really something special about this team. I don't think it's the most talented Eagles team in recent years, but they really believe in themselves and believe in each other, and that can make up for a lot of deficiencies. They're 2-1 now, 2-0 in the division. They've knocked the Giants pretty much out of the race, and they're in a really good position here three weeks into the season. There are definitely issues here, but there's a lot to like about this group.

Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

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Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

Redskins running back Chris Thompson doesn't want to bring his family to the Linc Monday night because he's afraid of what Eagles fans will do.

Doug Pederson hopes Thompson changes his mind.

"Philly fans are some of the meanest fans I've ever experienced," Thompson told ESPN radio's Washington affiliate, ESPN 980, on Wednesday, according to a story in the Washington Post.

"I heard that's the one stadium you keep your family from going to. My family will be (up from Florida) this week, and they were like, 'I want to come to the Philly game.' I said, 'Absolutely not, you're going to have to wait until Dallas comes around. … I was told that right away my rookie year: Keep your family away."

Pederson said he loves Eagles fans and the energy and passion they bring but also said he hopes Thompson or any opposing player feels comfortable bringing his family to the Linc.  

"I just know that playing at home is a great advantage for us," Pederson said before practice Thursday. "Our fans are great, they're energetic, I love playing at the Linc. 

"You know, I hope every family can watch their sons play. I think it's important that they're there and have a chance to watch their siblings play, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents.

"Right now in the league, every stadium is great for the home team and ours is no different. We're just excited now to finally be getting a stretch of games where we can play for the home fans."

Thompson, a fifth-year running back out of Florida State, has played at the Linc twice, in 2015 and 2016, both Redskins wins.

The Eagles, 5-1, host the 3-2 Redskins in a national TV game Monday night at the Linc. The Eagles are 8-2 at home under Pederson, including a 2-0 mark this year, although they're only 4-6 at home against the Redskins over the last 10 years.

Ronald Darby returns to practice for Eagles, status for Monday uncertain

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Ronald Darby returns to practice for Eagles, status for Monday uncertain

There's some good news coming out of the NovaCare Complex on Thursday: Ronald Darby is back at practice. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said Darby, who has missed every game since the opener with a dislocated ankle, will practice this week, at least as a limited participant. 

"I can't commit at this time if he's going to be ready (to play on Monday night)," Pederson said, "but we're going to give him some reps this week and see where he's at but he's doing extremely well."

Darby will be practicing this week but it seems unlikely he'll play on Monday night at the Linc. Pederson said "stars (would) have to align" for that to happen. 

Still, practicing is a great sign.

Darby was carted off the field in the second quarter of the opener against Washington with a pretty gruesome-looking ankle injury. It looked like his season was over. But the Eagles put a "4-6 week" label on the injury and there's a reason they didn't put him on IR. 

The injury was a dislocated ankle that didn't need surgery. That last time he spoke to reporters, in mid-September, Darby was confident he'd return in 4-6 weeks. 

So what would Darby have to show to play this week? 

"Obviously with the time off, there's a lot of things that are involved, conditioning No. 1," Pederson said. "That's probably the most important thing. How sore does he get during the week? And by no means do I want to rush him back and just say 'hey, we said this is the week, let's go play.' There's a lot of factors that have to be sort of right, stars have to align for him to be ready to go. But this week will be good just to get back and begin that process of practice and getting that conditioning back."

Darby's return to practice isn't the only good news on Thursday. Jordan Hicks (ankle) and Wendell Smallwood (knee) will also practice. 

Hicks left last week's game early with that ankle injury but Pederson said Hicks is "fine " and there "should be no issues."  

Smallwood has missed the last two games with a knee injury he suffered in LA against the Chargers. Pederson said Smallwood will be limited to start the week but they'll ramp it up as the week goes on.