Where did it all turn around for the Eagles in a 34-17 win over Jacksonville on Sunday at rockin' Lincoln Financial Field to open the 2014 season? Were there magic words spoken at halftime from head coach Chip Kelly? Did the leaders of the team gather together and rattle some helmets to wake the Eagles from a 17-0 fog?
Or was it just getting back on the field, staring at the scoreboard and hearing the displeasure of the Eagles fans who could not believe how the first 30 minutes of the game played out?
"Ooooh. To hear the boos in the first half, you're like, 'Man, here we go. I really ain't trying to go around Philly if we lose this game,'" said linebacker Brandon Graham. "Next thing you know, we tighten up and, I mean, I'm excited."
Who isn't? The Eagles overcame a ton to start the season with a victory.
Two Nick Foles fumbles after being sacked led directly to a pair of Jacksonville touchdowns that gave the Jaguars a 14-0 lead after one quarter. The offense was unable to gain a rhythm. The defense gave up some big plays.
And the Eagles were taking some hits. They lost Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis (knee) and right tackle Allen Barbre (ankle) in the second quarter with injuries and an already-thin offensive line -- missing starting right tackle Lane Johnson (suspension) and key backup Matt Tobin (ankle) went with David Molk at left guard (he had played center all through the preseason) and Andrew Gardner at right tackle.
Boos? Yes. The fans weren't pleased.
"I understand how they felt," said linebacker Connor Barwin. "It wasn't the way we thought things would go in the first half."
But the Eagles didn't let themselves get down, or become frustrated. They started to gain some momentum on the first possession of the second half when Kelly made the call to go for a fourth-and-1 play at the Jacksonville 49-yard line. The Eagles got to the line of scrimmage quickly and Foles handed off to running back Darren Sproles. He burst up the middle and darted 49 yards for a touchdown and, collectively, a world of Eagles fans breathed.
Maybe the Eagles did, too. Because that scored started the run of 34 straight points that was, well, breathtaking at times.
"We didn't change anything; we just have to execute," said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who had 4 catches for 97 yards, including a 68-yard catch and run to provide the winning points. "I think it was just a matter of time before we did it. Obviously we like to start faster but nobody quit. Nobody for one second doubted that we would win this game."
It was a tale of two halves, and there are some "teaching points," as Kelly said after the game, that will be discussed.
- Foles was really off his game in the first half, holding on to the football too long, throwing inaccurately, not seeing open receivers. He was 15 of 21 for 183 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the second half. It was a fine turnaround, but Foles knows he needs to be much better for 60 minutes moving forward.
- Against a very physical front seven, the Eagles battled to gain rushing yards. They managed 145 yards on 32 carries. LeSean McCoy had 74 yards on 21 carries -- he was far better than his numbers -- and Sproles had 71 yards on 11 carries. Chris Polk was inactive. He needs to get healthy to keep this group fresh.
- An example of why statistics often don't tell the full story: Linebacker Connor Barwin was credited with 2 tackles, a quarterback hurry and a pass defensed. Anyone who saw the game knows he dominated and was, literally, all over the field. Great performance from Barwin.
- An unheralded standout in the defense was Brandon Graham, who had a pair of tackles for loss among his 4 tackles. He played in Jacksonville's backfield and was tough against the run.
- Both Nate Allen and Trent Cole reached Chad Henne for sacks, and Cole stripped the football loose from Henne to set up Fletcher Cox with the recovery and 17-yard touchdown return for the final points of the game.
- The Eagles turned the football over 3 times and had 1 takeaway. They lost the turnover battle but won the game. That doesn't happen often at all.
- Jacksonville was 2 of 14 on third downs and they failed on their fourth-down try late in the game. Huge for the defense.
- How is everyone feeling about Cody Parkey now? He did his job in a big, big way with two field goals, one from 51 yards in the fourth quarter to tie the game. And he crushed that kick. Would have made it from 60 yards.
- Darren Sproles: 71 rushing yards, 14 receiving yards, 62 yards on punt returns (15.5-yard average). That's a total of 147 yards and a touchdown. Not a bad fifth-round draft pick.
- Great, great for Jeremy Maclin in his first game since the 2012 season. He caught 4 passes for 97 yards and was open several other times.
- Donnie Jones dumped 5 of his 6 punts inside the 20-yard line. Great job and a super job by the coverage units. Brandon Boykin's catch and downing of a Jones punt at the 1-yard line was a thing of beauty.
- The Eagles converted both of their red-zone opportunities into touchdowns, continuing their strong performance from the preseason. that is going to be a gigantic stat for the Eagles, who converted a tad over 52 percent of their red-zone chances into touchdowns last season.