By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles had to hold on to win their second straight game at home in Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon, but the Eagles managed to secure a 24-21 victory against an Arizona Cardinals team that has been on a bit of a hot streak. The Eagles did not have a great day on offense and struggled in the second half, but they picked up a big win to remain in decent position in the NFC playoff hunt, and are now tied with the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East.
Here’s a quick look at how the team performed in Sunday’s win.
Quarterback Grade: B+
Nick Foles completed 21-of-34 pass attempts for 237 yards and three touchdowns. Once again, the Eagles starting quarterback did not throw an interception. Foles has now thrown 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions on the season. To keep those numbers going against a really good Arizona secondary was promising. Foles did make one costly mistake that would have been an interception in the fourth quarter, but a defensive holding penalty wiped out the turnover and kept Foles’ record unblemished.
Offense Grade: B-
Nobody on the Eagles offense had a real standout performance this weekend. That said, LeSean McCoy led the team with 79 rushing yards and added 36 receiving yards. The Eagles spread the football around in the passing game, with six different receivers catching a football. Rookie tight end Zach Ertz led the team with 68 receiving yards and two touchdowns, catching five of the six passes he was targeted. Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson each caught three passes and veteran tight end Brent Celek added 29 receiving yards and one touchdown. The offense put together a 24-7 advantage with the help of the defense, but stalled in the second half when the game started to see Arizona rally. The offense did not record a turnover.
Defense Grade: B+
The defense did their part in setting the tone in the first half. The Arizona Cardinals had come to Philadelphia fresh off a 40-11 victory over the Indianapolis Coltsbut the Eagles did not allow Arizona to carry over any of that momentum to the early kickoff in Philly. Arizona lost a fumble on their third play of the game and the defense intercepted Carson Palmer on the second drive of the game for Arizona. In all, the Eagles forced three turnovers with two interceptions and they sacked Palmer five times in the game. The defense got caught on a couple of big touchdown plays but not allowing Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald to run free all day was a success for the Eagles secondary.
Special Teams Grade: A-
Eagles punter Donnie Jones has proven he has quite a strong leg. On Sunday Jones punted the football eight times, averaging 44.8 yards per punt and seven times Jones pinned the Cardinals inside their 20-yard line without a touchback. Kicker Alex Henery was only called on for one field goal attempt, which he converted from 32 yards in addition to three extra point attempts. DeSean Jackson was once again put back to return punts three times against Arizona but the move only netted 11 yards.
Overall Evaluation: B+
The Eagles appeared to be right on pace with where they were heading before their bye week. There were few signs of sluggish play after a week off. The Eagles took advantage of playing a team from the west in an early east coast time slot, as many teams from the west struggle with the early kickoff time, but the Eagles slowed down one of the hottest teams in the NFC over the last month. After the first half the Eagles started to slow down as the Cardinals may have made the adjustments the Eagles could not, but in crunch time the team pulled together to lock up the win, keeping them in first place in the NFC East.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.