The Eagles are just one more win away from reaching the Super Bowl. After every moment of adversity, every setback, every doubt placed in the minds of fans, here they are after an emotional 15-10 win over Atlanta. Here is a closer look at some of the biggest stars and quietest performances from yesterday’s win.
Coach of the Year? You can certainly make the argument. Aside from some timeout blunders, Doug Pederson called a phenomenal game yesterday. With some well executed screens, some big trick plays that even she Nelson Agholor rushing the ball and an ability to sustain drives using tempo to tire out this Falcons Defense, Pederson showed his true colors on Saturday.
Stefen Wisniewski’s return to the Eagles offense (in a non-week 17 matchup) was vital. An absolute mauler throughout, Wis paved the way for Ajayi’s 32-yard screen reception and was joined in dominance by Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks. All of the aforementioned were simply exceptional in executing the zonal rushing attack and proved their mettle as the best of the best on Saturday.
Maybe not the first half version of Nick Foles, but what we saw in the second half was exactly what the Eagles needed. He was never asked to be perfect, just competent. Foles found a rhythm and made some clutch passes throughout the night, including ‘THAT’ throw to Alshon Jeffery with a second left on the clock going into the half. Foles protected the ball well and despite a few overthrows, was everything the Eagles asked him to be.
If we take away that fumble on his opening run, Ajayi was rushing like a man possessed. Barreling through tackles, dominating in the trenches and thumping through the second level, the former Miami Dolphin amassed 54 yards on the ground and a further 44 through the air as the Eagles continued to play on his versatility. This was a game that highlighted just how exciting the future of the Eagles backfield really is.
A goal-line stand with the season in the balance? Check. Holding a dominant running back to 7 yards? Check. There wasn’t much this Eagles defense didn’t do. Sure, Tim Jernigan somehow managed to line up offside at one point, but Jim Schwartz and his ruthless army were absolutely dominant on Saturday, just as they had been all year. Huge games from Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham completely extinguished the run, while the likes of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod were just as impressive…oh and did we mention Darby and Mills both containing Julio Jones? We should probably mention Darby and Mills both containing Julio Jones.
Big V gave up a sack against rookie pass rusher Takk McKinley early on and would later pick up a penalty that hurt the offense. The Eagles leaked a lot of pressure from the left hand side once again as Big V’s struggles blend into the playoffs.
Complacent first half
There is no one player responsible for this, mainly because there were four fumbles and several drops. But winter football is a different beast and the Eagles made mistake after mistake offensively, especially early on. It comes down to Chip Kelly’s favorite word; ‘Execution’. Luckily the Eagles got it figured out in the second half, but they cannot afford for the same to happen again down the line.
10 carries, 7 yards. Ouch. Sure, Tevin Coleman was a little trickier to stop, but the duo have combined for 200+ yards eight times in their career and this game would not be another. Run defense was incredible and Devonta Freeman was simply silenced.
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports