By Kevin McGuire
The weather outside was frightful, but the Eagles were so delightful. The Eagles put together 28 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a slow start at home against the NFC North leading Detroit Lions. LeSean McCoy managed to slip by Detroit’s defense for some big plays as the Eagles had a fun time in one of the best snow games in the city in some time.
Here’s a quick look at how the team performed in Sunday’s win.
Quarterback Grade: B-
Nick Foles struggled to adjust to playing in the inclement weather, but so did his counterpart Matthew Stafford. Foles completed just 11 of 22 pass attempts for 179 yards and a touchdown, which was not easy to do at any point in the game. Foles, like the rest of the offense, was slow to get going in this one and he threw his first interception of the season. The important thing was Foles did not do anything to allow this game to get out of hand by making any weather-induced mistakes other than the lone interception. For the most part, Foles gets a passing grade for his performance on this one, because all things considered he did not play all too poorly.
Offense Grade: A+
With the weather causing all sorts of problems for both offenses, the Eagles proved to be able to find a way to adapt better than Detroit, and in a big way. Despite a terrible first quarter that saw the Eagles have negative yardage, the Eagles put up 478 yards of offense, with just under 300 yards of rushing offense. LeSean McCoy became the featured player on offense in the second half as the Eagles started to rely more on the running game and the offensive line was wearing down Detroit’s aggressive defensive line. McCoy had touchdown runs of 40 and 57 yards in the fourth quarter alone as he led all players with 217 rushing yards. Chris Polk got into the mix as well with 50 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Defense Grade: A+
The Eagles defense did an excellent job against the Lions, with a little help from the snow of course. The Eagles came up with three fumble recoveries, including one late in the game that sealed the game after a snap caught Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford off guard and sent him chasing a loose ball. Detroit managed just 228 yards of total offense, with just 3.9 yards per play. Detroit could not find the same success that Philadelphia did running the football, scratching together just 80 yards on the ground. Stafford was also held without a touchdown pass and completed just 10 of 25 pass attempts.
Special Teams Grade: D
One part of the Eagles that failed to have a spectacular performance in the snow was the special teams unit. Detroit’s Jeremy Ross returned a third quarter punt 58 yards for a touchdown to give the Lions a 14-0 lead. In the fourth quarter, immediately following a game-tying touchdown run by McCoy, Ross struck again for a 98-yard kickoff return to quickly regain the lead. In all, Ross had 172 kick return yards and 71 punt return yards.
Neither team pressed their luck with field goals or extra point attempts due to the weather, but the Eagles did block an extra point attempt by former Eagles kicker David Akers. The Lions had taken a timeout following the Ross kickoff return to have players and staff members clean off a spot on the field for Akers to attempt what could have been a pivotal extra point attempt, but the Eagles managed to block the kick anyway. It may have been the turning point of the game.
Overall Performance Grade: A
For much of the season the Eagles have struggled to finish games strong, but that was not at all the case on this snowy Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field. It did take some time to really figure out what was going to work for the team as players on both sides of the field had to adjust to poor weather conditions, and the Eagles really struggled at the start of the game to find an offense. Credit Chip Kelly and his staff for committing to an offensive style that at times is not what they feel is most comfortable. Sticking to the power running game and letting the offensive line set the tone up front proved to be the best decision Kelly could have made. It helps to have one of the best running backs in the league blowing through the holes opened up in front of him. At the end of the day, the Eagles scored a big win against a potential playoff team to remain atop the NFC East.
For more Eagles news and updates, visit Eagles Central.
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.