Trent Cole had a strip sack of Carson Palmer in the first quarter to set up a touchdown. Credit: Getty Images
The Eagles managed to stay even with the Cowboys in the NFC East thanks to an efficient win over the Cardinals Sunday.
Nick Foles led the team on three touchdown drives in the 24-21 victory. Philadelphia moves to 7-5 on the season, keeping pace with Dallas (7-5), which won on Thanksgiving Day.
The Cardinals rallied for two late touchdown drives to pull within a field goal, but they could not convert a first down on their final drive deep in their own territory and the Eagles were able to run out the final 1:47. A key holding penalty by Cardinals defensive lineman Matt Shaughnessy gave the Eagles a first down to allow the final kneel downs.
The win likely shapes up the division as a two-team race. The Giants play the Redskins Sunday night, but stand at just 4-7 following a loss to the Cowboys last week. If the Giants win out (5-0), either Dallas or Philadelphia would just need to finish 1-3 as they hold the tiebreaker.
What we learned ...
1. Saint Nick
It's hard to say Sunday was Foles' best day as a starter — after all, he did throw for seven touchdowns against the Raiders a few weeks ago — but it was certainly impressive. And it was against a much higher level of competition than the Raiders. Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu are a formidable pair in the Cardinals secondary and Foles had no issue with either. Foles often avoided Peterson early, but he did manage to drop a few passes in to DeSean Jackson regardless. He finished 21-of-34 for 237 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
2. Tight spot
Foles made liberal use of tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek with the Cardinals' elite cornerbacks manning up against his receivers. The rookie Ertz had two touchdowns — the game-opener from six yards and a 24-yard score in the third quarter. He finished with team highs of six catches and 68 yards. The veteran Celek meanwhile had four catches for 29 yards and a touchdown with just 19 seconds left in the first half. Ertz is starting to break out in a Chip Kelly offense very amenable to tight ends.
3. Rush is on
It was nice to see the Eagles generate as good a pass rush as they have all season against Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offensive line. In the first half especially the Eagles' front seven harassed Palmer repeatedly. Trent Cole got off to a good start immediately with a strip sack on the Cardinals' first possession. The Eagles turned it into a quick touchdown and 7-0 lead just 2:25 into the game. But it wasn't Cole's last big play. He had another sack as well, while Brandon Graham — often pointed to as a bust after being taken in the first round in 2010 — doubled his season sack total with two on Sunday. It was also the second-most he's had in a game in his career (2 1/2 last December against the Bengals). The Eagles had entered the game 26th in the league in sacks with just 24 total, but finished with five on Sunday.