By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles wasted no time taking care of the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon in Lincoln Financial Field. A 21-0 outburst in the first quarter set the pace for a 34-7 victory over the Cardinals and ensured the Eagles will remain in sole possession of first place in the NFC East for another week. The lopsided score was as strong as it suggests, as the Eagles played one of their best games of the Doug Pederson era.
Carson Wentz passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns in one of his finest performances as an Eagles quarterback to date. Nelson Agholor led the team with 93 receiving yards on four receptions, including a 72-yard score in the third quarter to push the lead to 31-7 on a 3rd and 19. Torrey Smith also redeemed himself a bit by catching three of four passes thrown his way for 70 yards and a score. LeGarrette Blount continued to have an impact as well with 14 carries for 74 yards. The Eagles converted nine of 14 third downs. The only real negative was not scoring points on two of their red zone trips.
Holding the Cardinals to just seven points tells the story alone. The Eagles defense was aggressive and in command from the start and never allowed Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald to make the kinds of big plays that typically hurt the Eagles and others. Patrick Robinson was busy deflecting passes and Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry each recorded a sack. Arizona only managed four third-down conversions out of 14, although the Eagles did allow two of three fourth-down conversions.
Special Teams: A
Rookie kicker Jake Elliott remains hot after kicking two field goals and knocking down all four of his extra-point attempts this week for 10 points. Punter Donnie Jones averaged 43.0 yards per punt and downed one inside the 20-yard line. Punt returner Kenjon Barner had a good day with three returns totaling 110 yards, including a 76-yard return to lead to an easy touchdown. Kick and punt coverage never allowed for a long return either.
It may be time to re-evaluate Doug Pederson. Maybe he has improved as a head coach since his head coaching debut last season. He will still be good for a questionable call from time to time, and a game this well in hand never really led to a moment where a clutch call needed to be made. But credit that to the level of preparation and the game plan for this one. The Eagles continue to be playing some of the best football not just in the NFC East, but maybe the entire NFC, and Pederson should be complimented for that.
Up Next: The Eagles now look to keep things rolling when they hit the road for Thursday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton. It will be a short week to prepare, but should make for a good game.
Catch the Eagles Thursday Night Football game against the Carolina Panthers October 12th on CBS3 and WIP.