Snow games are cool. For some reason, we love to see football players slipping and sliding around on a field that has been blanketed with snow. I think most kids played football in the snow at one time or another so maybe it simply brings back some good memories. Whatever the reason, Sunday's Eagles game is one that none of us will ever forget.
Not only did we get to see the Eagles play in snow, it was a good game. Both teams made big plays. The Lions got out to a 14-0 lead. The Eagles responded by scoring the next 14. I was typing something on Twitter when I heard the announcer talk about Jeremy Ross getting loose on another return. Ugh. That gave the Lions a 20-14 lead. The Eagles answered and went up 22-20. They took control of the game from that point on.
That kind of back-and-forth play would have been fun to watch on a clear day, a rainy day, or any other kind of day. To see it happen in a snow game, that just made it magical.
The big difference in the game was
McCoy's instincts are to make defenders miss and try to get outside. This was not working on Sunday. Snow affects what you can do. Players can run straight ahead pretty well. Making cuts and quick moves is much tougher, especially at the line of scrimmage where there is a lot of stopping and starting involved.
The Eagles coaches started running the ball downhill more and it seemed like McCoy adjusted his own game plan and did the same thing. He attacked the line of scrimmage rather than constantly trying to look for space. Once McCoy and the offense got into a good rhythm, they were essentially unstoppable.
McCoy would get the ball and attack upfield and then make cuts on the move. There were several plays where McCoy left a Lions tackler reaching for air. McCoy did make some cuts at the line of scrimmage, but only after he got the Lions on their heels. He still tried to stay as downhill as possible.
A ton of credit has to go to the offensive line.
Not only did McCoy have a big day, but
Detroit was able to run the ball early in the first half. Joique Bell is a downhill runner with some pop. The conditions fit him to a tee. Bell would get the ball and attack the line of scrimmage. He didn't go down on first contact and usually pushed the pile a yard or two. The problem is that Bell and the Lions could only get short gains on the ground. Detroit's longest run was just 8 yards. They had to work the ball down the field methodically. The problem with that is that the longer a drive went, the more chances there were for something to go wrong, which is what happened. Detroit had three good drives ended by fumbles. The conditions simply weren't going to let an offense move slowly down the field and score a touchdown. You either needed good field position or you needed big plays.
The Eagles had lousy field position, but McCoy made that irrelevant. He was able to break off runs of 57, 40 and 26 yards. His three longest runs combined for 123 yards. The Lions finished the game with just 80 yards on the ground.
The Eagles passing attack certainly helped the run game. Nick Foles struggled for the first half and the first couple of possessions in the third quarter. His throws were sloppy, due to the conditions of course. Foles threw his first pick of the year. That came in the second quarter and set up the Lions’ only offensive touchdown. About midway through the third quarter, Foles hit
It really was like a switch got flipped at that point. The Eagles didn't punt again. They became a scoring machine. Foles had a couple of big completions. McCoy, Brown and Polk all had big runs. Foles even had his long run and short touchdown sneak.
We all loved the game and how things went, but I'll fully admit to being very nervous when the Eagles were losing in the third quarter. Even seeing them down 8-0 had me on edge. The Eagles offense just couldn't get going and it seemed like the Lions were close to breaking the game open. I totally relaxed when the Eagles got that first touchdown. I still had my concerns about the Eagles winning the game, but seeing them get on the scoreboard calmed me down quite a bit. It seems like the players may have felt the same way.
The fourth quarter of the game was Fun City, USA. The Eagles made play after play and the Lions looked hopeless. That's when you could really enjoy the snow element and the peripheral parts of the game. Until then, the snow was cool to look at, but frustrating since it negated the Eagles’ speed on offense. I love the fact that Chip Kelly didn't complain about the conditions. He emphasized that both teams had to deal with the same weather so it wasn't going to be an excuse.
You could see a real difference in the pass catchers for each team. Cooper made a sensational catch on the 44-yard play. He had to locate the ball on the run and somehow was able to adjust his body to the throw. He held on to the ball as he went to the ground. Jackson had to go down to make a couple of his catches. Think about
Sunday wasn't a day for defensive linemen to do much. They could not rush the passer. Players could not get off the ball. The Eagles line did have a solid game in terms of run defense. They gave up some first-half rushing yards, but kept the Lions under control.
That was a big game for the linebackers.
It is difficult to say too much about the defensive backs. They gave up one long pass to Calvin Johnson. All in all, that's pretty good.
It wasn't such a good day for the special teams unit. They gave up 273 return yards. They allowed Ross to run back a punt 58 yards for a touchdown, as well as a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. There was another long kickoff return that almost became a touchdown. Kelly said the conditions were a major factor. I agree, but players are still at fault for getting out of their coverage lanes. The one special teams highlight was Logan getting up the middle to block an extra point. I guess the fact that there weren't any fumbles or bad snaps on special teams is worth mentioning as a positive.
After the Cowboys’ pathetic loss on Monday night and the Eagles big win on Sunday, the Eagles are all alone in first place. I love the networks showing the playoff graphic and seeing that the Eagles are atop the NFC East. Life is good.
Sunday turned out to be a lot of fun. The Eagles got to play in a wild snow game. They won big. We all got some good memories. But in the grand scheme of things, that is just one step on the journey through the season. The players have already put that game behind them and are focusing on playing the Vikings in a lovely climate-controlled setting this upcoming Sunday.