By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This seemed like a foregone conclusion. The Oakland Raiders were away from home during the holiday season in cold, and brutal Philadelphia and were playing for nothing.
The Eagles were supposed to roll over the Raiders, but someone forgot to tell the Raiders that.
Oakland showed more fight than the Eagles certainly expected. Certainly more than anyone expected. What was supposed to be easy wasn’t so easy.
The Eagles sweated out a 19-10 victory, which was nowhere near as close, on a very brisk night at Lincoln Financial Field to assure home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
The Eagles are now 13-2, after generating a season-low 216 yards of offense and giving up a season-high 137 yards rushing while going 1-for-14 on third-down conversions.
The Eagles left themselves in position to go undefeated at home for the second time since 1954 and first time since 1992, when they went 8-0 under Rich Kotite.
If anyone wanted a good idea as to why Oakland underachieved and was 6-8 entering the game they just needed to look at the Raiders’ opening possession. Oakland reached the Eagles’ 44 on its first six plays. The Raiders were rolling, looking at a third-and-four, when they mismanaged the time and were hit with a delay-of-game penalty.
Then a false start pushed Oakland back further. Suddenly, the Raiders third-and-four became a third-and-14. A 12-yard third down convinced Raiders’ coach Jack Del Rio to go for it on fourth-and-two. The Raiders failed miserably.
The Eagles made them pay.
Foles directed an 11-play, 58-yard drive that ended with a nicely designed screen that Jay Ajayi took 17 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Eagles’ lead. Center Jason Kelce had a great block, pushing Raiders’ safety Reggie Nelson out-of-the-way to allow Ajayi a free lane down the sideline. Another key play came from Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks and Pro Bowl left tackle Lane Johnson clearing the way for Corey Clement to slice through the Oakland front for a two-yard gain on fourth-and-one at the Oakland 21.
With 12:36 left in the half, Oakland tied it at 7-7, when for the second-straight week cornerback Jalen Mills fell victim of a double move. Mills was nowhere to be found when Derek Carr looped an easy pass to a wide-open Amari Cooper.
Then things got scary.
The Eagles couldn’t convert on third downs. They couldn’t stop the pass. They couldn’t stop the run. They didn’t look like a team that had won 12 games.
Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins bailed them out once with a forced fumble and recovery at the Eagles’ 16 with 6:42 to play. Then Ronald Darby bailed them out again—an interception with :54 left to play giving the Eagles a chance to win.
Jake Elliott booted a 48-yard field goal with :27 left, and Derek Barnett scored on a fumble recovery on the game’s last play and the final result was a very deceiving 19-10 victory.
Five second-half turnovers made it possible.