Eagles

Eagles 32, Texans 30 — Nick Foles keeps Eagles in playoff race for another week

Eagles 32, Texans 30 — Nick Foles keeps Eagles in playoff race for another week

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They never make things easy, do they?

The Eagles seem to put everybody through hell every Sunday, but lately, they've been finding ways to win these heart-stopping games.

On a record-setting day, Nick Foles overcame what appeared to be a serious rib injury to rally the Eagles in the final minutes to a 32-30 win over the Texans at Lincoln Financial Field.

How many of you were holding your breath or had your eyes closed when Jake Elliott lined up for the game-winning 35-yard field goal on the game's final play?

If you haven't opened your eyes yet, he made it.

The win keeps alive the Eagles' playoff hopes with a week to go (see story).

The Eagles this year have won games by 7, 7, 6, 4, 3 and 2 points.

And caused their share of heart attacks.

Here we go with today's 10 instant observations:  

1. That’s two wins over 10-win teams in eight days, and the unfortunate thing is whatever magic the Eagles found here late in the season, it could well be too late. The Eagles improved to 8-7 but still need some help from the Bears next week along with a win in Washington to get into the playoffs. They’ve now won four of their last five, and they deserve a ton of credit for being in this position and clinching a non-losing season when five weeks ago they left New Orleans 4-6 after getting massacred by the Saints. I know one thing. If the Eagles do find their way into the playoffs, nobody wants to play them. Nobody.

2. What can you say about Foles? He had a bad fumble at the 5-yard line and another interception, but this was a remarkable performance, especially considering the rib injury on a Jadeveon Clowney cheap shot he suffered in the final minutes. Foles’ game-winning drive was an absolute masterpiece and he had to be in tremendous pain those last few plays. Just adds to the Legend of Nick. The game-winning drive capped a brilliant game in which he threw for a franchise-record 471 yards with four touchdowns and kept a season that looked lost alive (see story). I don’t know what the future holds and it’s not the time to talk about it right now, but Foles is a gamer. He’s a champion. He’s an all-time Eagle.

3. The Texans scored some points and Deshaun Watson ran around and made some plays, but you know what? The defense deserves a big piece of this win. The turnovers certainly put the defense in some tough positions — two of the Texans’ touchdowns came on short fields after Eagles turnovers — but they kept DeAndre Hopkins from killing them, they stuffed the run and they made enough plays to help get a win.

4. I rarely mention the refs in these postgame posts, but it’s just embarrassing to the league when something like this happens. Foles getting face-masked to the ground by Clowney on a failed two-point conversion attempt and Brandon Graham getting called for a personal foul on a routine third-down QB pressure that extended the Texans’ second-quarter TD drive were the most egregious calls, and they almost cost the Eagles the game. They also missed an obvious hold on Zach Ertz on the play where Bernardrick McKinney — who was covering Ertz — picked off Foles.

5. I’m just dazzled by Darren Sproles and the big plays he’s able to make at 35 years old and coming off really two years where he really hasn’t played much. There was a 14-yard TD run vs. the Giants, a TD catch and 25-yard run in Dallas, a 17-yard run to set up a field goal in L.A. and then that 37-yard TD catch and run against the Texans. Every week he does something special. I really, really, really hope he doesn’t retire.

6. Really impressed with the Eagles’ young cornerbacks. Remember, they are down Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones. But there’s Hopkins with 9 for 104 with a long gain of 18 yards — decent numbers, but this may be the most dangerous wideout in the NFL and the Eagles’ young corners — especially Avante Maddox — never really let him get going. You never want to celebrate a guy getting 100 yards, but the big thing was no catches over 18 yards. That’s huge.

7. Josh Adams has come back down to earth the last couple weeks. His fumble late in the fourth quarter was potentially devastating, and his numbers for a second straight week were pedestrian. Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement and Adams all have their strengths, but I don’t think any of them is truly an every-down back. Sproles has shown the last few weeks that he is as explosive as ever, but he’s essentially a role player at this point and we don’t even know if he wants to play next year. It’s clear to me the Eagles need to make running back a big offseason priority.

8. Here are some names for you: Boston Scott, Treyvon Hester, Richard Rodgers and Daeshon Hall. Who? Scott, playing in his first NFL game, had a big 35-yard kick return. Hall, playing in his third NFL game, had a sack. Hester also had a sack and Rodgers had a first-down catch, his first reception as an Eagle. They all helped Sunday, and that’s a credit to Howie Roseman and his staff for finding guys at the bottom of the roster who can contribute to a huge win.

9. DeAndre Carter is one of the best stories ever, and I’m glad he’s found a home with the Texans. Carter, who fulfilled a promise to his dying brother by making the Eagles out of training camp after being released by six other teams, had 6 for 61 receiving Sunday and looks like he’s found a home with the Texans. Tremendous kid, tremendous story. Looks like a player, too.

10. I’m sure Ertz didn’t want to break the NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end on a play where he fumbled, but fortunately, Dallas Goedert recovered and the fumble will be forgotten long after we’re marveling at Ertz’s remarkable 2018 season. He caught 12 passes for 110 yards Sunday with two more touchdowns and goes into the finale in Washington with 112 catches, 1,128 yards and eight TDs. Insane numbers. One of the greatest seasons ever by any Eagle.

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How the loss of Jordan Howard has damaged the Eagles

How the loss of Jordan Howard has damaged the Eagles

Jordan Howard still hasn’t been cleared for contact nearly five weeks after he hurt his shoulder, and at this point it certainly seems more likely than not that he will miss a fourth straight game when the Eagles face the Giants Monday night at the Linc.

A lot of factors have contributed to the Eagles’ three-game losing streak, but Howard’s absence is an under-rated huge one.

The Eagles were 5-4 and averaging 23 points per game with the fourth-year running back, and they’re 0-3 and averaging less than 17 points without him.

With Howard on the field, the Eagles were controlling the clock and keeping defenses off-balance. Doug Pederson spoke more than once about how an authoritative running attack had become the team’s identity.

That identity no longer exists.

Howard injured his shoulder in the win over the Bears on Nov. 3.

Pederson didn't mention Howard's injury after the game or the next day, and when the Eagles went into the bye there was no reason to believe it was serious.

Pederson first referred to Howard's injury as a “stinger,” or nerve damage in the shoulder area, on Nov. 15, nearly two weeks after Howard first got hurt.

Howard has practiced on a limited basis since the injury, but Pederson said Thursday he still hasn’t been cleared for contact and said there’s no change in his status.

Although rookie Miles Sanders has played very well, the Eagles miss Howard tremendously.

Through nine games, he was 14th in the NFL with 525 rushing yards and averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

Most importantly, he was moving the chains and getting in the end zone.

Going into Week 10, he had rushed for 28 first downs, 14th-most in the league (despite averaging just 13 carries per game), and he had six rushing TDs, 6th-most in the league.

In the three games Howard has missed, Sanders has averaged 4.6 yards per carry but has only 40 carries as Pederson has moved away from the running game.

The Eagles don’t have a rushing touchdown since Howard got hurt.

Interesting to note that in the nine games Howard played, the Eagles ranked 5th in the NFL in time of possession at 32:13 per game. Without Howard, they’re 13th at 30:44.

There are obviously other factors, but the Eagles’ offensive scoring is also down dramatically without Howard, from 23.3 to 16.7.

And most notably, instead of increasing Sanders’ workload with Sanders out, Pederson has simply decided not to run nearly as much.

In the nine games with Howard, the Eagles had the 6th-most rushing attempts in the NFL and a 55-45 pass-run ratio.

In the three games without Howard, the Eagles have the 3rd-FEWEST rushing attempts in the NFL and a 69-31 pass-run ratio.

The Eagles, who have lost running backs Corey Clement and Darren Sproles to season-ending injuries, signed Jay Ajayi a few weeks ago, but he’s only averaging 3.1 yards on eight carries so far.

When can we expect to see Howard?

It’s impossible to tell.

Pederson said Thursday he doesn’t expect this injury to be season-ending, but the season is over in 24 days, and Howard hasn’t played in 32 days.

Adding to the equation is the fact that Howard is scheduled to become a free agent after this season and the Eagles need to decide whether to offer him a long-term deal or not.

The season is slipping away, the Eagles haven’t won a game in over a month and one of the players they miss the most remains sidelined with an injury that won't go away.

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Eagles sign training camp standout receiver Marken Michel to practice squad

Eagles sign training camp standout receiver Marken Michel to practice squad

The Eagles on Thursday signed preseason and training camp standout Marken Michel to their practice squad.

Michel, 26, had an impressive summer in Philadelphia and was a strong contender to make the initial 53-man roster but was released at final cuts. The Eagles kept just five receivers out of training camp.

The Eagles reportedly had Michel in for a workout earlier this week.

During the preseason, Michel had four catches for 117 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown on a deep post against the Titans from Nate Sudfeld.

Michel is the older brother (by about a year and a half) of Patriots running back Sony Michel. While Sony has found a home in the NFL, Marken’s route has been more circuitous to this point.

Marken Michel went undrafted out of UMass in 2016. He spent one summer with the Vikings and then carved out a career in the Canadian Football League for two years. He was a teammate of Eagles linebacker Alex Singleton on the Calgary Stampeders when the Stampeders won the 2018 Grey Cup.

With this move to sign Michel (5-11, 190), the Eagles’ practice squad is now at capacity with 10 members and three of them are receivers. They have just four receivers on the 53-man roster.

The Eagles also have Robert Davis (6-3, 210) and Marcus Green (5-8, 191) on the practice squad.

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