Eagles

Nelson Agholor jump-starts Eagles' season-opening win over Redskins

Nelson Agholor jump-starts Eagles' season-opening win over Redskins

BOX SCORE

LANDOVER, Md. — The Eagles finally snapped the streak. 

Who cares if it wasn't pretty? 

The Eagles did just enough Sunday afternoon to take down Washington, 30-17, their first win against their division foe since Sept. 21, 2014. 

The Eagles jumped out to an early lead before Washington recovered. But eventually, the Eagles were able to walk out of FedEx Field with a big opening day win. 

With the win, the Eagles start their season with a win for the sixth time in their last seven seasons and snapped a five-game losing streak to Washington. 

Carson Wentz didn't have his best game but made some spectacular plays with his feet to extend plays. He was 26 for 39 for 307 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating was 96.8.

The game was extremely close until the end. The Eagles extended their five-point lead to 13 with less than two minutes left when Brandon Graham forced a fumble (that appeared to be an incomplete pass), and Fletcher Cox picked it up and returned it to the house. The Eagles tacked on a two-point conversion. 

Turning point
Washington was driving early in the fourth quarter, down two, with a chance to take a lead late. But Jim Schwartz dialed up the blitz and brought Jordan Hicks up the gut. Kirk Cousins threw the ball to the goal line but Jalen Mills was waiting to pick it off. 

Key stat
The Eagles were 8 for 14 on third downs, while Washington was just 3 for 11. 

First half 
The Eagles had a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter before allowing Washington to score the next 14 points. 

Caleb Sturgis, who missed an extra point, capped a late first-half drive with a 50-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 16-14 halftime lead.

The Eagles came out firing. On their first offensive drive of the game, Wentz somehow avoided a rush and hit Nelson Agholor deep for a 58-yard touchdown catch. Then a little later, Jamison Crowder muffed a punt, the Eagles recovered and scored when LeGarrette Blount caught his second-career touchdown pass to cap a 39-yard drive. 

But then things got ugly.

Ronald Darby left the game with a nasty ankle injury, and on the next possession, Ryan Kerrigan picked off a tipped pass and took it 24 yards for a pick-6. On the next drive, Washington went 69 yards on eight plays, scoring on a 29-yard touchdown catch from Chris Thompson. The Eagles missed several tackles on that play. 

Offensive stud
Agholor had a 58-yard touchdown pass and already had a career game before the first half ended. Agholor had a career high in catches (six) and receiving yards (86). 

Zach Ertz also had a big afternoon. It was just his second 90-yard game before December in his career. 

Offensive dud
We'll give this to Alshon Jeffery. The Eagles' prized free agent acquisition didn't have much of an impact in his debut with the team. Blount, aside from his receiving touchdown, didn't really do much on the ground either. 

Defensive stud
The Eagles lost Darby, but Jalen Mills more than held his own. He had his first-career interception and provided really solid coverage on Terrelle Pryor. He was very competitive. 

The Eagles' front four also had a great game and capped it off when Graham forced a fumble and Cox picked it up and rumbled into the end zone for his second career touchdown. 

Defensive dud
Nigel Bradham struggled Sunday. He missed a tackle on the Thompson touchdown and was later hit with a defensive holding on a big third down. 

Injuries
Early in the second quarter, the Eagles lost cornerback Ronald Darby to a right ankle injury (see story). The starting CB needed to be carted off the field after it looked like his right foot got caught in the turf. It was an ugly injury. 

UPDATE:

Jason Peters came out of the game late in the second quarter with a groin injury. He returned for one play at the start of the second half but then shut it down. 

UPDATE:

DT Destiny Vaeao (wrist) left in the second half and was listed as questionable to return. 

The Eagles came into the game incredibly healthy. All 53 players on the roster practiced in full all week, including Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks, who had both been banged up at the end of the preseason. 

Up next 
Next week holds a tough test for the Eagles. They'll have to travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs, who are coming off a big upset win over the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in Foxboro. Oh yeah, and Andy Reid has three extra days to prepare for the Birds. Whenever Big Red has extra time, he normally makes the most of it. 

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

On a day that will be remembered most for a player the Eagles lost to an injury (see story), they did learn that they are getting another player back after a long injury rehab.

The Eagles are finally going to get a look this week at rookie second-round pick Sidney Jones at practice. Whether he actually gets into a football game this year is still in doubt.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that nine months after he blew out his Achilles and eight months after the Eagles drafted him, Jones has finally been medically cleared to practice and will participate to some extent Wednesday when the Eagles get back to work following their win over the Rams Sunday in Los Angeles.

“We're just to the point of just want to see him out there running around, doing football activities outside of the normal workouts that he's been doing,” Pederson said Monday. “Just really changing direction and doing more football work this week.”

Jones tore his left Achilles during his pro day workout on March 11 and has spent the entire season so far on the reserve-non football injury list, which is for players with preexisting conditions dating before the first day of practice.

The Eagles had a window running from Week 7 until this week to activate Jones for practice, and once he practices on Wednesday, they’ll have 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year.

The Eagles have the luxury of taking their time with Jones, thanks to the play of starting corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, slot corner Patrick Robinson and fourth corner Rasul Douglas.

Before his injury, Jones was projected as a first-round draft pick. The Eagles got him with the 43rd pick, but even if he doesn’t play until opening day next year, he will still be only 22 years old and under contract through 2020.

Jones had nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 8½ tackles for loss and 145 tackles in 40 career games for the University of Washington.

It remains to be seen where Jones will fit in next year, but Robinson, although he has played well, is due to become a free agent this offseason and turns 31 in September.

Douglas and Jones are signed through 2020, Mills through 2019 and Darby through 2018.

Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

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Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

Remember when the Eagles lost Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles and plenty of folks thought the season was over? 

Doug Pederson does. 

Sure, this isn't exactly an apples-to-oranges comparison. Losing a left tackle or a middle linebacker or a running back isn't the same thing as losing an MVP-level quarterback entering his prime. It would be unfair to suggest they're the same. 

But Pederson has seen his team hurdle over every obstacle this year. With the biggest one yet now in front of it, it's his job to convince his team it can do it again. 

On Monday, Pederson tried to convince fans who have prematurely canceled Christmas. 

"To the fans out there, you can't lose faith," Pederson said. "This has been a resilient football team all season long. If there's ever an opportunity for me as a head football coach to rally the troops, now might be the time. 

"We just came off a tremendous victory to win the NFC East. Guys are riding extremely high. It's a little bittersweet. But you know what? We've got the Giants this week and we've got an opportunity to ... if you win Sunday, you get a first-round bye. There's still a lot to play for. That's what's exciting about this season. We're still playing for the opportunity to hopefully be in that game."

Pederson, just after delivering news of a torn ACL, was adamant that his team can overcome the loss of Carson Wentz

"It sure can," he said. "Heck yeah." 

It won't be easy. Before leaving Sunday's game, Wentz threw his 33rd touchdown pass of the 2017 season, breaking the Eagles' franchise record that had stood since 1961. But more than touchdown passes, Wentz made special plays seemingly every week, plays that only a handful of quarterbacks in the world can make. 

Nick Foles is a pretty adequate backup, and he did a nice job when called upon against the Rams. But he ain't Carson Wentz. Everyone, including his teammates, knows that. 

It's just that they don't have time to wallow in the loss of their superstar leader. Next weekend might be huge. 

A win against the Giants would earn the Eagles a first-round bye. A win against the Giants, paired with a Vikings loss, would earn them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. After another obstacle was dropped in front of them on Monday morning, the Eagles can still help themselves. 

Pederson's role in all this is vital. He has to be the guy to hold it all together.  

"It's huge," he said. "I think even the guys felt it after the game yesterday. We just rally and we support the next guy. From my standpoint, you don't waver, man. You don't let people see you sweat, you just put your head down and you go to work. You get everybody ready to play. It was evident yesterday when Carson was out of the game, you saw Nick come in and come back and lead us to victory in that game. That right there is a great step in the right direction."