PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Grey clouds were so low surrounding Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday that they shrouded the Philadelphia skyline off in the distance. The expected rain, however, never came in the deluge forecasted before the Eagles game against San Francisco 49ers. It led to a murky, though manageable afternoon.
Such has been the Eagles’ season.
Predicted gloom that results in adaptable conclusions—and that was the case again against the woeful and winless 49ers.
The Eagles did what a very good NFL team is expected to do and that’s stomp on a disheveled team. That’s what happened in the Birds’ 33-10 victory over the 49ers—though they didn’t look at all like the best team in the NFL in doing it.
The Eagles improved to 7-1 overall, their best start after eight games since the 2004 NFC-championship season. The Eagles have now scored 20 points or more in 12-straight games, which is the longest current streak in the NFL.
The 2004 Eagles were expected to reach great heights. This team wasn’t supposed to do anything near what it’s doing now—and they’re doing it with defense.
Against Washington last week, the Eagles’ offense got off to a slow start while the defense held strong. Against San Francisco, it was more of the same. This time, the defense produced two first-half turnovers, one a Jalen Mills’ 37-yard pick-six and led to a 17-0 halftime lead.
When one facet of the Eagles’ game has struggled, another area has filled in. When a starter has gone down, other players have come to the fore as the answer.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai did a serviceable job at left tackle, filling in for the lost Jason Peters. Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham and Joe Walker served as a three-headed monster in the middle playing in place of the lost Jordan Hicks. The Eagles survived communication problems on the offensive line, and at times on defense. Still, they were able to get away with it against a talent-thin, young team behind a makeshift offensive line in front of an inexperienced quarterback, C.J. Beathard.
Those were red-flag areas that the Eagles would not have gotten away against a better team.
They got way with it playing arguably the worst team in the NFL.
Mills continues to get better each week, and his pick-six was further proof. Eagles’ rookie defensive end Derek Barnett is also getting better each game. He blocked a 27-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter and then recovered the block.
What’s more is that the Eagles won with Carson Wentz being off. He completed 18-of-32 for 211 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception. He was also sacked three times for minus-19 yards. His third-quarter interception led to San Francisco’s only touchdown. Even his 53-yard, third-quarter touchdown toss to Alshon Jeffery was a poorly thrown ball. It was underthrown, forcing Jeffery to come back and reach around 49ers’ defensive back Ahkella Witherspoon to make the catch.
Wentz had Brent Celek wide open down the middle with just over 11 minutes to play and missed him.
Even Jake “Ice” Elliott missed a pair of extra points.
More dark, ominous clouds are on the horizon for the Eagles in the form of Denver, Dallas, Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams in four of their next five games. Whether they can wade through the murk is still under debate.
When you’re a good team, you can get away with C-level games as the Eagles did against San Francisco.
The Eagles won’t be able to get away with that the rest of the way.