By Kevin McGuire
It seems the Philadelphia Eagles find ways to keep games interesting on a weekly basis. Where the Eagles have been following a track record for coming from behind this season, the roles were reversed Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles built a large lead and had to hold off the St. Louis Rams. The defense and special teams chipped in with a touchdown each for a second straight week, and the Eagles needed them.
Nick Foles did not have a great afternoon, which appears to have been the story of the season so far for the Eagles starting quarterback. On the first two trips inside the red zone, Foles went 0-for-4, which helped lead the Eagles to having to settle for a pair of field goals. Foles did complete 24 of 37 pass attempts for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he was intercepted once and he was a part of the reason the offense stalled in the second half as the team struggled to keep drives alive. The Eagles were able to get by without a stand-out performance from their starting quarterback, but Foles will need to put together a full game for the Eagles to have a realistic chance to do any damage in the NFC. Grade: C+
When the Eagles score 34 points in a game, you would think all was just fine with the offense. This is a case where the numbers fail to paint the whole picture. As was the case last week, the scoreboard was inflated by scores recorded by the special teams and defense, leaving the Eagles offense with 20 points, which would not have been enough to win this game. The offense was bailed out by the play of the special teams and, ironically, the defense. LeSean McCoy put together 81 rushing yards and 86 total offensive yards, but he did not record a touchdown for the third straight game. The Eagles did build a 34-7 lead, but the failure of the offense to keep the foot on the gas pedal allowed the Rams to make a comeback and cause some tense moments in the fourth quarter. The Eagles put together just 352 yards of offense and had three turnovers. Grade: C+
If Sunday’s game exposed any one weakness on the Eagles defense, it is the play of the outside cornerbacks. St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis picked apart the Eagles defensive backs on the outside of the field time and time again as the Rams started to chip away. Carey Williams and Bradley Fletcher struggled in coverage and were victimized for big plays by the Rams too often. Cedric Thornton recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter, but the Eagles defense was grasping for anything it could the rest of the way it seemed. Fortunately, they hung on as the Rams ran out of steam at the end, but St. Louis piled up 466 yards of offense, with 342 of those yards coming through the air. The Eagles did recover three fumbles, which should not go unnoticed. Grade: C
The special teams play of the Eagles once again came up with a touchdown this week, with a blocked St. Louis punt by James Casey being picked up and returned by Chris Maragos 10 yards for the first score less than a minute into the game. Cody Parkey once again was productive and dependable when called upon. Parkey successful kicked all six of his attempts, including a pair of field goals in the first quarter once the Eagles offense stalled. The return game did not yield much. Darren Sproles combined for 38 yards on two returns, one punt and one kick return. Grade: A
Bring On The Giants
Regardless of how the Eagles reached this point, Philadelphia heads into a key NFC East battle with the New York Giants with a record of 4-1. It has certainly not looked pretty at times and every game has shown various reasons to be concerned. Next week the Eagles will host the Giants in a primetime match-up with a chance to head into a bye week with a 5-1 record. The Eagles will need to play a good, clean game and avoid mistakes to enter the bye week on a high note. The way they have played the last two weeks may catch up to them if they do not.
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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.