By Kevin McGuire
Coming off the worst loss of Chip Kelly’s young NFL coaching career, the Philadelphia Eagles wasted little time in getting things started Sunday afternoon at home in Lincoln Financial Field against the Tennessee Titans. Josh Huff’s 107-yard kickoff return to start the game set the tone as the Eagles went on to stomp the visiting Titans, 43-24.
Mark Sanchez did enough to get the job done against the Tennessee Titans, but it was far form a clean performance in victory. Sanchez was picked off twice, both on bad throws by the veteran quarterback. Sanchez did make some Eagles history by joining Nick Foles, Mike Vick and Donovan McNabb as the only quarterbacks in franchise history with three straight games with 300 passing yards. Sanchez completed 30 of 43 pass attempts and one touchdown pass, to James Casey inside the re zone early in the third quarter. Grade: C
The Titans came into the game lacking a run defense, and that was good news for LeSean McCoy. McCoy busted out for 130 rushing yards and a touchdown to lead the offense Sunday. McCoy averaged 6.2 yards per carry, and Darren Sproles added 25 yards and a touchdown in the game. Sanchez distributed the ball to multiple receivers fairly evenly. Jordan Matthews led the team with 77 receiving yards, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Brent Celek each had over 45 receiving yards as well. Five other Eagles caught a pass as well.
Chip Kelly prides himself on efficiency though, and the Eagles turned in some mixed results. The Eagles were 10-of-19 on third down conversion attempts, but just three-for-seven inside the red zone. Grade: B
The Eagles defense performed well against the young Titans offense. The Eagles held the Titans to just two third down conversions out of 12 and allowed just 59 rushing yards. The defense also forced three turnovers, including one interception of rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger showed promise in his second start for the Titans, but the Eagles sacked him five times. Nate Allen and Bradley Fletcher each recovered a fumble and Trent Cole and Connor Barwin each led the defensive front with a pair of sacks. Grade: B+
Things got off to a great start with the Eagles recording one more special teams touchdown. Josh Huff started the game by returning a kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown. Darren Sproles added 50 punt return yards on six returns during the game, but he never had a return longer than 13 yards. Rookie kicker Cody Parkey continues to impress and prove reliable after successfully kicking five of six attempts for 19 points with his four successful extra point attempts. Parkey kicked from distances of 50 yards, and three more from at least 30 yards. The Eagles kick return team did well as well, holding the Titans to just 13 punt return yards on three punts. Grade: A+
Time to celebrate Sunday afternoon’s win is limited. The Eagles have little time to prepare for the next game, a Thanksgiving afternoon game on the road against the Dallas Cowboys. The NFC East will likely be decided by the results of the two NFC East Division battles between Philadelphia and Dallas, so the outcome of Thursday’s game is critical. Heading back on the road this week coming off a nice bounce-back win at home helps Philadelphia regain some momentum after a blowout loss the previous week against the Green Bay Packers.
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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.