Eagles

Roob's observations after must-win for the Eagles ends in celebration

Eagles

Box score

That sound you heard on the Cowboys' final drive was the sound of 70,000 Eagles fans at the Linc holding their breath.

An Eagles team that's blown so many leads this year and squandered so many opportunities didn't let it happen again.

It wasn't easy, and as always the Eagles made it harder on themselves than it had to be, but when the dust settled the Eagles had themselves a dramatic 17-9 win over the Cowboys.

A loss would have given the Cowboys their second straight NFC East title and eliminated the Eagles from playoff contention. Now the Eagles win the division with a win Sunday against the Giants.

It's now safe to breathe again.

1. It was perfect that Sidney Jones made the play that clinched the Eagles’ biggest win of the year. A guy who's been benched, who's been vilified, a guy who was only in the game because of injuries. That’s kind of become the personality of this team. Guys off the practice squad, guys cut by other teams, guys who weren’t playing earlier in the year. The Eagles beat the Cowboys Sunday for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is that these young guys are hungry, they injected some life into a moribund roster, they never stopped working when they weren’t playing, they never hung their heads, and when they got their opportunities — whether it was Greg Ward or Boston Scott or Josh Sweat or Jones on that final play or Robert Davis or take your pick, that’s why they won. Because the Eagles never stopped being a team. They never stopped believing in their coach. And they never stopped playing hard. This was an improbable win by an improbable cast, and all the Eagles have to do now is find a way to do it again next week.

 

2. If this was a defining game for Carson Wentz, you’ve got to love the way he defined himself. Throwing to an assortment of rookies, practice squad call-ups and unknowns, he had the game of his life — 31-for-40 for 319 yards, a TD and no interceptions. His key receivers were a backup tight end, a rookie running back who had 28 career receptions in college and a receiver who was on the practice squad last year, and they combined for 18 catches for 239 yards and a TD. Wentz is playing as well as he ever has. If you don’t believe in him now? You may as well not even be an Eagles fan anymore.

3. It’s been a rough stretch for the Eagles’ defense, but this was a dazzling performance. To hold the Cowboys to nine points and no touchdowns? Specifically, the Eagles did two things they haven’t done in recent weeks — covered extremely well and tackled well. The Cowboys came in No. 1 in the NFL on third down at 48.6 percent and went just 3-for-14. In particular, their work on Eagles killer Ezekiel Elliott was tremendous. Zeke ran 13 times for 47 yards and he did add 37 receiving yards but he didn’t have a play longer than 11 yards. This is a guy who’s averaged 163 scrimmage yards against the Eagles. The Eagles needed a monster performance Sunday from the defense, and Jim Schwartz’s unit delivered.

4. I’m running out of superlatives to describe Miles Sanders. A week after his 172-yard scrimmage yards against the Redskins he had 156 more on Sunday. He’s not just good. He’s not just exciting. We’re seeing the birth of a flat-out superstar.

5. Zach Ertz deserves so much credit for coming back into that game after suffering a rib injury and making four big catches in the second half. Few things more painful than a rib injury. You can’t breathe. People whine about Ertz not being tough enough. You want tough? We all saw it.

6. Best game Malcolm Jenkins has played all year. Jenkins hasn’t been bad this year but he hasn’t been the elite player we’re used to seeing. Sunday he was all over the place. Sunday he was elite. The Eagles needed their great players to be great, and he really was.

7. Incredible performance from Dallas Goedert, with career highs of 9 for 91 and a touchdown. With Ertz in the locker room, Goedert played like a true No. 1 tight end. He’s now got 54 catches, and he and Ertz are only the 9th tight end duo in NFL history with 50 catches each in the same season. On a team with only zero veteran wide receivers, Ertz and Goedert have been off the charts this year.

 

8. Greg Ward is a baller. My goodness. It’s unimaginable that this guy was rotting away on the practice squad a month ago. He is so smooth, so secure with the football, so instinctive in his ability to get open. I have no idea how the Eagles didn’t realize what they had right under their noses for 2 ½ years, but fortunately for the Eagles no other team snapped him up. He was huge Sunday with 4-for-71, and what he’s done these last five weeks  — 21 catches for 221 yards and a TD  — is remarkable. He has become what we’ve wanted Nelly to be. Ward’s going to be making plays for this team for a long time.

9. I hated Pederson letting Jake Elliott try to make a 55-yard field goal with 11 minutes left in the game and the Eagles up 17-6. Terrible. Elliott has struggled lately, missing from 47 and 49 yards the last few weeks and 53 earlier in the game. Your defense has allowed 6 points in 49 minutes. Either go for it or have Cam Johnston pin ‘em deep and let your defense do what it’s been doing all day. Gave the Cowboys the ball at their own 45 and could have really been a momentum turner. For a while it seemed like it was.

10. None of this means anything if the Eagles don’t beat the Giants on Sunday. And that won’t be easy. With Saquon Barkley back fully healthy and Daniel Jones playing the way he did Sunday, the Eagles won’t be able to just go up there and float through that game. The division title is right there for them. It’s not the time for letdowns. They need to go up there and dominate a Giants team with no reason to play.

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