Nick Foles led the Philadelphia Eagles to their fourth straight win after they hung on to beat the Cardinals, 24-21. But, here we go again with having to use the phrase “hung on” as the best descriptor for the victory.
A win is a win, but there is something ominous about having to “hang on” to do it. If it’s that way once, that’s fine. But when that happens multiple times, you almost start to feel that this is a house of cards that could crumble at any moment.
I’m not here to piss in anyone’s Cheerios today, because hey, the Eagles won didn’t they?
The Cardinals are a surging team that has a very good defense and an offense that is efficient, if unspectacular. It was a good matchup and test for the Eagles and they won. The game was big in wildcard implications as well as keeping the Eagles on pace with Dallas for the division.
But, and there’s almost always a but, the way the second half played out — particularly the end — dulled what could have been a true confidence inspiring victory. Instead, I find myself wondering if the Eagles just didn’t lose rather than beat Arizona.
In other words, did they just get lucky or did they truly earn the win by being the better team?
Ultimately, I think it’s a combination of the two. The Eagles did play well as Nick Foles threw for three touchdowns against a good Arizona defense and the defense harassed Carson Palmer and forced turnovers.
The Eagles built a 24-7 lead in the third quarter but again, just as in both games against Washington, they let their opponent come back and make it closer than it should have been.
The offense struggled after their opening drive of the second half and while the defense played well overall, they weren’t exactly stifling Arizona drives…the Cards could move the football on them if they didn’t turn the ball over.
So, there we were in the fourth quarter after Arizona just scored a TD to make it a three point game at 24-21. The Eagles took over with just under five minutes to go and really needed to put a good drive together to both eat the clock and at least get a field goal to force the Cards to get a TD to win it.
What happened? Three plays into this drive, Nick Foles threw a bad interception that would have set Arizona up in field goal range immediately. However, as luck would have it, the Cards’ defense was called for holding and it negated the interception.
Consider it bullet dodged #1.
The penalty was Tyrann Mathieu for holding on Jason Avant. I went to re-watch the play to see how bad the hold was (if any) but Avant and Mathieu went out of view on the camera so it was inconclusive.
However, in what I could see on the play, Avant ran up-field and there wasn’t any holding while he was still in the view of the camera and about one second later is when Foles threw the ball that was picked.
Therefore, if Avant was held, it happed within a second or so prior to Foles releasing the ball.
After that, the Eagles went very conservative in their next three plays and were forced to punt.
Arizona gets the ball back with just over two minutes to play and just need to get into field goal range. After Andre Roberts dropped a pass on third and five that would have converted the first down, the Cards were faced with fourth and five.
On the fourth-down pass, Bradley Fletcher had a little contact with Michael Floyd as the receiver was going for the ball. It was a good play by Fletcher but we’ve seen referees call pass interference on plays with less contact.
Bullet dodged #2.
Eagles take over on downs and already in field goal range to extend their lead to six if they needed to. After three plays it appeared that’s exactly what would happen until another third-down defensive holding call on the Cardinal defense gave the Eagles another first down.
They were then able to just run out the clock. However, if not for that final defensive holding call, the Eagles would have kicked a field goal and then Arizona would have gotten the ball back with about a minute and 20 seconds or so (allowing time for field goal and ensuing kickoff).
Bullet dodged #3.
Those yellow flags significantly helped them “hang on” to win. But to me, those yellow flags serve as red flags. I don’t like needing help from the refs even though that’s “part of the game.”
Chip Kelly needs to figure out how to put teams away in the second half. They won’t always get the calls by the refs and the defense, while playing better, still isn’t trustworthy of not giving up killer drives in the fourth quarter.
This was an important win for the Eagles and they still have three more to go before the big showdown in Dallas. To use a boxing analogy here, I want the Eagles to start knocking teams out instead of winning 2-1 decisions on the judges’ controversial scorecards.
In other words, beat teams instead of withstanding them.