Eagles had 60 minutes to save their season and for the first time all year, played like it


It wasn’t pretty, but what NFC East game is ever pretty? Down 19-3, the Philadelphia Eagles bounced back to overcome a daunting sense of adversity. Without any starting cornerbacks to even so much as worry Odell Beckham Jr and the Giants offense, it seemed like doomsday was finally upon us, especially with Saquon Barkley running riot. But when the team ran out to the start the second half, that all changed. The Eagles allowed just 16 rushing yards in the second half and 40 through the air, which in contrast to the 236 passing yards in the first half and 110 on the ground, was a monumental shift.

“They just showed a toughness that they were going to fight for 60 minutes, and that was the message at halftime.” Said Eagles Head Coach, Doug Pederson. “We got 30 minutes left to go, and just that they were just going to hang tough. I mean, great communication in the secondary. The D-line I think really did a nice job with the run game in the second half and forcing them to put the ball in the air some. Just overall great team effort on defense today.”

The Eagles banged up secondary was teetering on the edge of a knife at the end of the first half and it looked as though at any point, the wheels could fall off. But a message from the coaches and leaders to keep it simple and settle down made the world of difference for both offense and defense.

“The biggest thing is, we were kind of on our heels the whole first half.” Said Malcolm Jenkins, who made a clutch interception to end an otherwise dismal half. “We got to a point where we said look, ‘We know we have guys in the back end scrambling a little bit because the Giants are in their hurry-up offense.’ It put us in a little bit of a bind in terms of communicating. It’s loud. So, give us something simple and we’ll put the pressure on our D-line to take over. And once we did that we were able to settle down the outside and stop the run a little bit and allowed for the pass rush – they start hitting the quarterback. All of a sudden, those third-and-3’s start turning to third-and-7 pluses and we get off the field. The momentum starts to change and then we get the ball rolling. Hats off to our D-line and [Defensive Coordinator] Jim Schwartz for settling down the game plan and giving us an opportunity to go play fast.”

On the other side of the field, the Eagles decided to keep pounding the rock. Against the Saints and most other teams this season, that plan has been aborted early. But even when down three possessions, Pederson continued to come out swinging, giving undrafted free agent, Josh Adams, a shot at claiming the featured-back throne. A 57-yard TD was wiped off the board in the first half, but that didn’t stop him from piling on the pressure after the break.

“He was big for us.” Carson Wentz stated after the game. “Josh did a great job. He’s done a great job in everything we’ve asked him to do this year. Today he got the workload [and] he did a great job. He took it and ran with it. At the same time, the offensive line did a great job to lean on them. They made some nice holes and then Josh finished the runs really well and we got it done.”

In fact, it was Adams, who ended the day with 84 rushing yards and his second touchdown in as many weeks, that may have summed this up better than anyone.

“We wanted it bad. Right before we went out there, we said we’re just going to take this 60 minutes. That’s it. That’s all we got is 60 minutes to the start of our season. We’ll worry about the rest after, but we’re worried about one play at a time, one quarter at a time trying to get the win at the end of the game.”

This was the first performance I can think of all year in which the Eagles gave a complete performance. Sure, they started slow, but if there was ever a game where they’re down three possessions and almost expected to accept that the final nail in the coffin has been hammered, it’s this one. But somehow, this team rose up with the rage and grittiness that has been lacking all year long.

The big plays from veterans seemed to light a fire in the younger players and this Jim Schwartz defense that almost lost its identity at times, was playing ruthless and dangerous once more, even without a single starting corner on the field. The offense started to find a rhythm and achieved a near perfect offensive balance, removing the weight off the shoulders of Carson Wentz and enabling options to open up all across the field.

This was the team’s most impressive performance to date. It wasn’t perfect. There were errors, setbacks, flags, missed tackles, whiffs and moments where a split second could’ve shifted this entire outlook. But the fact that we are now associating resiliency with the Eagles as opposed to complacency as crunch time beckons, can only be seen as an overwhelming positive. With all odds stacked against them, the Eagles found a way.

Where have we seen that before?


Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports