Eagles Use 2nd Half Surge to Pull Away from Jaguars 34-17


Sep 7, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley meet on field after the game at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Jaguars, 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

If one were to look at the final score of the Eagles week 1 win over the Jaguars, it’d be easy to think that the game followed the narrative everyone expected. For those watching the game from the opening gun, the product on the field was in no way indicative of a team that hopes to challenge for a Super Bowl. Turnovers, penalties, and general disarray on offense put the Eagles in a 17-0 first half hole and one could probably hear a pin drop in the stunned Lincoln Financial Field. Quarterback Nick Foles recorded three first half turnovers, two leading to Jaguars touchdowns, and missed open receivers all over the field. The one serious probe the Eagles made into Jacksonville territory in the opening half abruptly came to an end when Foles floated an interception into the waiting arms of Jaguars safety Alan Ball. The Eagles also lost offensive linemen Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre to injury early in the contest.

After allowing undrafted rookie Allen Hurns to torch them for a pair of receiving touchdowns, the Eagles defense and special teams kept things from getting out of hand in the opening half. Brandon Bair, in his first active appearance in an NFL game, blocked a Josh Scobee field goal attempt to keep the margin at 17. To head into the locker room after turning the ball over three times, allowing 17 points, and being unable to develop any sort of offensive rhythm must have been a silver lining for the Eagles. Whatever occurred in the locker room between the end of the 2nd quarter and the start of the third was apparently just what the doctor ordered.

The Eagles pieced together an opening drive in which they had to convert a pair of third downs and faced a 4th and 1 from just beyond midfield. The makeshift offensive line and perhaps the team’s most notable acquisition, Darren Sproles, teamed up to turn the tide for the Eagles in a big way. Sproles took the handoff, broke through the opening wave of defenders and sprinted 49 yards for the first touchdown of the season. The team in general seemed to operate with much less tenseness after Sproles’ touchdown and started to look like a team that could contend. After the defense forced a three-and-out, a 22-yard punt return by Sproles set the Eagles up with more prime field position. After a few plays to get to the edge of the red zone, Foles finally put one on the money as he found his tight end Zach Ertz in the seam for a 25-yard touchdown to bring the margin to three. Ertz finished the day with three catches and 77 yards along with that score.

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After allowing Chad Henne to carve them up in the early stages of the 1st quarter, the Eagles defense really gave the Jaguars signal-caller issues in the 2nd half. There were a handful of batted passes by the linebacking corps, a strong push by the defensive line, and a secondary that was able to clamp down on Jacksonville’s crop of unproven receivers. Jacksonville was unable to re-establish any of the rhythm they showed early in the game, and the 3rd quarter came to an end with the Eagles trailing 17-14.

After their first drive of the 4th quarter sputtered out at around the Jacksonville 33 yard line, the Eagles found themselves in a position to tie the game. Rookie kicker Cody Parkey, with just a pair of extra points to his name as a professional, would have to kick a 51-yard attempt to even the score at 17. Sure enough, from a the same distance as Alex Henery’s career long, Parkey split the uprights cleanly and the score was 17-17. After forcing yet another Jaguars punt, the Eagles offense finally turned in the big play to punctuate their struggles throughout the game.

On 1st and 10 from their own 32, Foles faked a handoff to LeSean McCoy and took a few steps to his right. He unleashed a throw down the seam and found a wide open Jeremy Maclin who made the catch and coasted in for a 68 yard touchdown. It was a play that Foles had missed on multiple occasions. To finally hit home on a deep ball was big for the tandem of Foles and Maclin and a high note to end on for the embattled Eagles quarterback. They would add on a Parkey field goal and a Fletcher Cox scoop and score defensive touchdown to complete a 34-point turnaround and win comfortably 34-17.

Winning in the NFL is difficult. No matter how ugly the product on the field, each precious victory easily outweighs any petty complaints one may have regarding the team’s performance. That being said, it’s hard to come away from Sunday’s game and not have some serious concerns about Nick Foles progressing as a franchise quarterback. All of the same problems that people magnified in 2013 reared their ugly head, and Foles showed a lack of accuracy on a handful of throws that he made with ease last season. Depending on the injuries to their offensive linemen, the Eagles could come away from this win in fairly good shape. Foles has shown an ability in the past to bounce back from bad games, so it’s probably too soon to jump down his throat at this point. If he turns in more performances like Sunday, he might not be bailed out by the rest of his team.