When Nick Foles aired it out to Jeremy Maclin for the go-ahead touchdown -- a 68-yard bomb midway through the fourth quarter Sunday against the Jaguars -- it was as if the Eagles were playing in their second game of the afternoon in a 34-17 victory to open the season. It wasn't the start Eagles fans expected, and the Eagles looked completely unready for the season to start in the first half, trailing 17-0 when they hit the locker room. But after they left the tunnel for the second half, the NFC East champs were back, going on to outscore Jacksonville 34-0 in the third and fourth quarters. They also limited the Jaguars to just over 100 yards of offense in the second half.
"I don't think you can just lose your mind over it you have to have composure and understand it's a long game," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said of falling behind early. "Things are there. We didn't change anything, there wasn't a huge change from a play call standpoint. It was just 'hey settle down this is what they're giving us, they did exactly what we trained for.' It was just a matter of executing."
Darren Sproles had something to say about the lackluster first 30 minutes coming out of halftime. The new Eagles' acquisition converted a 4th and one at the Jacksonville 49 yard line into six points, streaking to the end zone and putting the birds on the board at the 11:44 mark. The gain was the biggest of Sproles' career and capped off an 80-yard drive.
"Down 17 it feel like we had to go for it on fourth down," Kelly said of the decision to go for it. "You don't think you're going to get a touchdown out of that. You want the first down and keep the chains moving and some momentum on your side."
Zach Ertz and Foles got on the same wavelength a drive later, when the quarterback finally got into a groove when he found the tight end in the middle of the end zone for his first touchdown pass of 2014, cutting the Jaguars advantage to a field goal, 17-14.
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In the fourth quarter, after flexing some defensive muscles, the Eagles tied things at 17 with a 12-play 55-yard drive that resulted in a 51-yard field goal make by Cody Parkey. And then of course, the 68-yard strike to a wide open Maclin put the Birds ahead for good.
Maclin made it look easy, but in the first half it was the exact opposite. The Eagles offense turned the ball over on their first possession, Foles coughing up the ball after being sacked by Chris Clemons on a key third down.
"It feels good to come out with a 'W' against a great Jaguars team," Foles said. "They did a good job of getting me out of my norm up front."
A few plays later Chad Henne tossed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Allen Hurns, turing the Eagles turnover into a costly mistake and putting them in an early hole. In their next opportunity with the ball, Foles failed to see a wide open streaking Jeremy Maclin, and again fumbled the ball on a sack.And again it led to a touchdown pass to Hurns (this one for 21-yards).
A 49-yard field goal gave the Jags a 17-0 advantage just into the second quarter. With the Eagles picking up some momentum from a missed Josh Scobee field goal a drive later, Foles turned the ball over for a third time throwing an interception in the red zone to end the Birds' best scoring chance after a solid drive on a short field.
Fletcher Cox added an exclamation point scoring on a 17-yard fumble recovery (on a Trent Cole sack) to put the Birds way ahead, 34-17.
Foles bounced back to throw for 322 yards and two scores on 27-of-45 passing. LeSean McCoy and Sproles gained 74 and 71 yards on the ground respectively and Jeremy Maclin led receivers with 97 yards on four receptions.
"First and foremost the Jaguars are a really good team too," Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who had two catches for 37 yards in his NFL debut said. "They are well coached, well staffed, we respect all but we fear none. We know it would be a challenge but it's good to go out there and get a win."