Okay, exhale. We can all breathe now. At least for another week.
Sunday’s 39-17 win over New Orleans didn’t prove much. But it kept the Eagles’ season alive. In a must-win game, they saved themselves. At 2-3, they are in the thick of the NFC East race.
The Saints are too horrible to use as a measuring stick. Was this the start of a turnaround? We’ll learn soon enough. So be impressed with 518 offensive yards and the reappearance of defensive line pressure. We’ll need to see it again – and again – to know that Sunday’s romp was not the aberration.
That said, there were plenty of aspects to savor Sunday.
Like the return of Big Balls Kelly. I’ve carped here that Chip had lost his swagger this season. On Sunday, he was aggressive, twice going for it on fourth and long. Neither play worked, but give the coach points for bravado.
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Like Sam Bradford’s best performance to date. Yes, he threw two hideous end-zone interceptions. No ignoring that. But “Check-Down Sam” is learning he can pass deep without fear, as well as overcoming the habit of throwing off his back leg. Bradford completed four passes of more than 20 yards, and had 333 yards total.
There were also no sacks – in fact not one recorded hit on the Eagles quarterback, who did his post-game interviews in a uniform free of grass stains. The offensive line – beset by injuries – worked together brilliantly.
The offense played with a flow – if not for the entire four quarters, at least for most of the afternoon. Ryan Mathews again showed how well he fits Kelly’s running scheme. Hell, even DeMarco Murray averaged more than four yards a carry.
On defense, Fletcher Cox played the best game of his career – ensuring election to this year’s Pro Bowl. The front seven pounded Drew Brees all afternoon. And, with the exception of frequent target E.J. Biggers, the secondary shined.
So bask in the afterglow for a day or two. But know that the bottom line is that winning one must-have game just serves to set up another, and that comes next Monday night. If they beat the Giants at home, the Eagles will have fully emerged from the ditch they drove into to start the season. Then we can all exhale – and inhale again.