The Eagles announced their 2011 regular season schedule, highlighted with eight nationally televised games. Here is a game-by-game preview.
Overall Series Record: 18-19-1
Record at Edward Jones Dome: 1-2
Last Meeting: September 7, 2008 – Eagles 38, Rams 3
Game Recap: Well, this was a way to start the season. Donovan McNabb threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns and rookie DeSean Jackson had quite an NFL debut with six catches for 106 yards and a 60-yard punt return to lead the Eagles to a 38-3 rout of the Rams. In fact, the Eagles had three 100-yard receivers on the day (Jackson, Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett) for the first time since 1960. In all, the offense racked up 522 yards of offense and the defense held the Rams to 166 total yards.
After a string of preseason games that features two former Andy Reid protégés as head coaches, the Eagles will open their season against another former member of the Eagles coaching staff in Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo. In his second year on the job, Spagnuolo steered an improvement from a 1-15 2009 season to a 7-9 season in 2010 that also saw the Rams playing for a division title in the season's final game.
But there was plenty more to that six-game improvement than Spagnuolo's coaching, notably the play of No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford, who won the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award on the heels of a debut campaign in which he threw for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. The Rams have no doubt found their quarterback of the future and Bradford will pose an interesting test for an Eagles defense that will be playing its first game under new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
Speaking of that defense, game 1 will be Eagles fans' first look at what is a completely revamped unit. In addition to Castillo taking over as coordinator, the Eagles defense will sport new position coaches at every position, including the universally revered Jim Washburn, who takes over the defensive line and employs his signature wide line splits. As for the personnel, Pro Bowlers Asante Samuel and Trent Cole will still be on board, but there should also be plenty of new faces in tow ready to make their first impression of the 2011 campaign.
And what about the offense? Well, Michael Vick will lead an offense coming off its third straight season setting a franchise record in points. But Vick still has plenty of room to improve in his encore performance, as there's little telling what kind of adjustments he can make with a full offseason as the starter under his belt. He'll be flanked by a trio of game-breaking skill position players in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy, who will all be anxious to make their mark on the season in game one.
And as a team, the Eagles will be hoping for a repeat performance of the last time these two teams met, when the Eagles bested the Rams 38-3 in 2008, in another season opener. So there you have it, the Eagles' road to a Super Bowl begins in St. Louis. September 11 can't get here soon enough.
Overall Series Record: 17-11-1
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 4-0
Last Meeting: October 10, 2010 – Eagles 31, Falcons 17
Game Recap: In arguably the best performance of his Eagles career, Kevin Kolb threw for 326 yards, three touchdowns and one interception en route to winning the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award. The performance was especially impressive when you consider that the Falcons would go on to a 13-3 record, good for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Things started quickly for the Eagles, thanks in large part to DeSean Jackson, who opened the scoring with a 31-yard rushing touchdown and followed it up with a 34-yard touchdown reception. The only downside on the day for the Eagles was the frightening concussion Jackson would suffer in the second quarter after a ferocious hit by the Falcons' Dunta Robinson.
This is not Michael Vick's first game in Atlanta since his return to the NFL. But his trip there will be much different this time around which is why it will be the Sunday night game in Week 2 of the season.
Vick and the Eagles played in Atlanta in 2009. Vick was a wildcat quarterback at the time and his return to Atlanta was a successful one. As fans of both the Eagles and the Falcons wore Vick's jersey in the stands, Vick scored his first two touchdowns as an Eagle - one rushing and one passing - in the Eagles' 34-7 rout of an Atlanta team that was without quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner.
The Eagles have had the Falcons' number of late with four straight wins in the series including double-digit margins of victory in each of the past three seasons. Last year, Vick was injured and it was Kevin Kolb who led the Eagles to a 31-17 win, earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in the process.
This will be Vick's first game in Atlanta as the starting quarterback of the Eagles. With Vick once again hailed as a star in the league, the entire stadium could be filled with No. 7 jerseys. Atlanta was expected to host the NFC Championship last season after steamrolling through the regular season, minus the Eagles game, with a 13-3 record. There was much buzz towards the end of the regular season that Vick's first game as the Eagles' starting quarterback in Atlanta would be for the NFC title, but it did not come to fruition thanks to the Green Bay Packers for both teams.
Atlanta has had a winning record in three consecutive seasons, but has not been able to make a lot of noise in the postseason. With a franchise quarterback in Ryan and a lot of young, talented pieces, the Falcons will certainly be in the hunt. However, the New Orleans Saints reside in the same division as well as the up-and-coming Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The pressure is on them to turn the corner and become a bonafide Super Bowl contender.
Overall Series Record: 74-82-2
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 5-4
Last Meeting at Lincoln Financial Field: November 21, 2010 – Eagles 27, Giants 17
Game Recap: In what was a beautiful example of the game-of-inches nature of professional football, the Eagles outpaced the Giants thanks to a 50-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy on fourth down that was a fingertip away from being blown up in the backfield. In a gutsy call, head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg opted for an outside pitch only to find Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora in the backfield. But a moment's hesitation from Umenyiora allowed Michael Vick's pitch to barely reach McCoy, who scampered untouched into the end zone as the Eagles took over sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
The Eagles' first home game will be against the New York Giants. It will be the first meeting of the two teams since the Miracle at the New Meadowlands.
That was the game that sent the Eagles into the playoffs with the NFC East title and kept the Giants at home on the couch. Leading 38-10 with just eight minutes to go back on December 19, the Eagles rallied to tie the game and win it on DeSean Jackson's walkoff punt return as time expired.
However, it was the last win of the year for the Eagles.
Even with all of the talk about the Miracle that there will be leading up to this game, last year's battle at Lincoln Financial Field was just as entertaining. Asante Samuel intercepted Eli Manning twice including once in the fourth quarter. LeSean McCoy took a pitch on a fourth down, after Michael Vick bobbled the snap, and raced 50 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The game was sealed after a bizarre fumble by Manning where he scrambled for a first down and lost the ball as he went to the ground.
The scene at Lincoln Financial Field will certainly be electric as it is the first home game of the season. But if the Eagles can come away with two wins on the road, including the nationally televised showdown in Atlanta, fans will truly be juiced for this affair.
The Eagles have dominated the season series with the Giants of late winning the last six contests including playoffs. Manning had to deal with an array of injuries at the wide receiver position between Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks. If Manning can rely on his top two wideouts next season, the Giants can continue the very successful physical running game aligned with the deep, vertical passing game. Then again, as long as Samuel is on the field, Manning will always have to be aware. It remains to be seen whether the Giants will keep Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs together in the backfield. Bradshaw had a breakout season before fumbling problems earned him a spot on the bench. Jacobs is due a lot of money next season and isn't the bell cow that he once was.
The defense under first-year coordinator Perry Fewell was a very aggressive, attacking brand of football that worked wonders, but eventually backfired against the Eagles in the Miracle. The secondary is deep and talented with three very good safeties led by Antrel Rolle. In fact, Fewell used this alignment quite often since the coverage abilities of the linebacking corps was less than desirable.
Overall Series Record: 12-17-1
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 2-1
Last Meeting: October 10, 2010 – Eagles 27, 49ers 24
Game Recap: In his first start taking over for the injured Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb led the Eagles to victory, though there were nervous moments at the end. After Quintin Mikell's fumble return for a touchdown gave the Eagles a 24-10 lead, the 49ers would go on to pull within three and would get the ball back with less than two minutes remaining before a Trevard Lindley interception put the game on ice. The performance of the night went to running back LeSean McCoy, who ran for 92 yards and had 46 yards receiving – all with a broken rib.
The Eagles are becoming more and more familiar with the Harbaugh family.
Longtime Eagles assistant coach John Harbaugh is now the head coach in Baltimore where he has taken the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons there. Now, John's brother, Jim, is a head coach in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers after turning Stanford in a national title contender.
Jim Harbaugh takes over a talented 49ers squad that was expected to dominate the NFC West last season. However, the 49ers finished a lackluster 6-10, even though that was just one game behind division winner Seattle, and coach Mike Singletary was relieved of his duties as head coach.
The Eagles and the 49ers have clashed in each of the past three seasons and Philadelphia has won the last five meetings overall. The big question in San Francisco is whether Alex Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, will remain the starting quarterback. Smith has been praised by Harbaugh even after Smith was yanked from the starting position last season.
The 49ers are expected to take advantage of their talented offensive line - which features two first-round picks from last year's draft - and Pro Bowl running back in Frank Gore to utilize a power rushing attack. The defense, a 3-4 base which features one of the game's best linebackers in Patrick Willis, should remain largely the same under Harbaugh, who is an offensive-minded coach.
Overall Series Record: 6-5
Record at Ralph Wilson Stadium: 3-3
Last Meeting: December 30, 2007 – Eagles 17, Bills 9
Game Recap: In the final game of a disappointing 8-8 season, the Eagles closed out with a hard fought 17-9 win that included the first touchdown of Brent Celek's career. Wide receiver Kevin Curtis also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery and the defense paved the way by allowing only 133 yards passing.
The Eagles will begin their second of three sets of back-to-back road games with a trip up north to Buffalo in Week 5. Coming off a disappointing 4-12 campaign, the Bills will get a talent infusion from the No. 3 overall pick in Chan Gailey's second year on the job. But even though a quarterback remains in play for the Bills in the draft, expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to be the starter under center after a solid 2010 season.
Most of the Bills' offseason work will be done to fortify a defense that allowed a league-worst 169.6 rushing yards per game last season. And that wasn't just because teams were running the ball with leads, the Bills also finished dead last in rushing yards allowed per play. A myriad of problems on defense also saw the Bills finish 30th in the league in third-down defense and , most importantly, post a league-worst -17 turnover differential.
Still, the arrow is pointing up for the Bills as they have a roster that includes young talent like running back C.J. Spiller, wide receiver Steve Johnson and nose tackle Kyle Williams.
As for the Eagles, they haven't been to Ralph Wilson Stadium since 2003, so they'll be hoping an early October meeting doesn't mean over-the-top chilly temperatures. The game will also be a homecoming of sorts for Eagles special teams coordinator Bobby April, who spent six years molding the Bills' special teams into one of the best units in the league. Perhaps DeSean Jackson will provide April with a welcome-back present in the form of an explosive play as a punt returner.
Overall Series Record: 69-79-6
Record at FedEx Field: 9-5
Last Meeting at FedEx Field: Eagles 59, Redskins 28
Game Recap: In perhaps the season's defining performance, Michael Vick threw for 333 yards, four touchdowns and added two more touchdowns rushing as the Eagles demolished the Redskins, grabbing a 35-0 lead after their first five drives. It was an unparalleled performance from Vick, who became the first player in NFL history to achieve such single-game heights.
Michael Vick may very well end up on the cover of the Madden NFL '12 video game, but Vick toyed with the Redskins defense in a game for the ages on Monday Night Football last season.
On the night former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb signed a contract extension with Washington, it was Vick who re-wrote the history books. Vick became the first person in NFL history to throw for 300 yards, rush for 50, toss four touchdown passes and run for two more all in the same game in a 59-28 demolition of their division rivals.
Washington's first year with McNabb and head coach Mike Shanahan didn't go as planned. Expected to get Washington into the playoffs sooner rather than later, the Redskins finished 6-10 and missed out on the postseason party for the fourth time in the past five seasons. The Redskins defense, one than was among the league's best each season in the 4-3 base, regressed in the transition to the 3-4 due in large part to not having the right pieces in place.
Before the Monday night massacre last year, you might recall the Redskins' LaRon Landry taunting wide receiver DeSean Jackson. That was, of course, followed by Jackson scoring on an 88-yard catch-and-run from Vick on the game's first play from scrimmage to set the tone for the blowout. The Eagles are the defending division champs. Washington will have a lot to prove after finishing last in the division and will most likely be doing it with a new quarterback.
Will Shanahan draft a new franchise quarterback with the No. 10 pick in next week's draft? And if so, would that quarterback start from day one. You can imagine defensive coordinator Juan Castillo smiling at the mere thought in his office now.
Overall Series Record: 45-59
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 4-4
Last Meeting at Lincoln Financial Field: January 9, 2011 – Cowboys 14, Eagles 13
Game Recap: In the regular season finale, the Eagles had little to play for, already locked into the No. 3 seed in the NFC. So Andy Reid opted to rest his starters in advance of their playoff game and let his second stringers do the job. The defense performed admirably, shutting the Cowboys offense out until less than a minute remaining. But after an early touchdown pass to Chad Hall, all Kevin Kolb could muster behind a makeshift offensive line was two David Akers field goals.
You've heard the stat a million times, but that doesn't make it any less true – since taking over as Eagles head coach in 1999, Andy Reid is 12-0 in games after the bye week. That streak will be put to the test in Week 8 this year against the division rival Dallas Cowboys in the first game of a three-game home stretch.
It will be the first meeting between the two teams in 2011 and it will be available for all to see as the teams play under the Lincoln Financial Field lights on Sunday Night Football. Unfortunately for the Eagles, no one expects the Cowboys to be as bad as they were in 2010. In fact, they'll probably be one of the teams competing for a division title, so this is likely to be a very important game. With a healthy Tony Romo and a bounceback year from a defense that includes stars like DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff, the Cowboys figure to come into Philadelphia itching to end Reid's post-bye dominance.
Of course, the Eagles will be rested and ready for whatever the Cowboys throw at them. In last year's post-bye game, Michael Vick returned from injury to slay Peyton Manning and the Colts, so he's no stranger to difficult games after the bye. The Cowboys were vulnerable against the pass last season, as they allowed 243.3 yards per game in the air, 26th in the league. And remember, in his only game against the Cowboys last season, DeSean Jackson busted out for a ridiculous 210 receiving yards on only four catches.
So ramp up the old clichés, these two teams don't like each other, no love-loss here etc. But when it comes down to it, the importance of this game needs no fluffing up. It's Eagles-Cowboys, may the best team win.
Overall Series Record: 12-29-1
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 0-1
Last Meeting: November 28, 2010 – Bears 31, Eagles 26
Game Recap: After three straight wins coming out the bye week, the Eagles were humbled in a frustrating 31-26 loss at the hands of the Chicago Bears as Jay Cutler diced up an Eagles secondary without Asante Samuel for four touchdowns. Michael Vick was intercepted for the first time all season and the pick came in the red zone where the offense could only capitalize on one of five opportunities. The Bears seized control of the game after the interception as Earl Bennett's touchdown, Cutler's third TD toss of the game, gave them a 21-13 halftime lead.
Few teams have been more of a thorn in the Eagles' side the last few years than the Bears, who have won three of the last four matchups between the two teams – all in the last four years. Last year, the Bears were the first team to intercept Michael Vick en route to a sloppily played five-point win. But this time, the two teams won't be playing in the fragile mud of Soldier Field.
Truthfully, the Eagles should still harbor a grudge over that game, because it was the tie-breaker in last year's race for the coveted No. 2 seed and the first-round bye that came along with it. As a result, the Eagles lost in the wildcard round to the Green Bay Packers, who would then go on to dismiss the Bears, in Chicago, in the NFC Championship game. In that NFC Championship game, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler left with an MCL sprain, which created a firestorm questioning his toughness. That could motivate him to have a big 2011, so the Eagles figure to have their hands full with a player who lit them up last year to the tune of four touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Now, it must be said that Cutler did all that against the Eagles' secondary with Asante Samuel not playing. Samuel, the perennial Pro Bowler and perhaps the best playmaker at the cornerback position in the league, should then be plenty amped to line across from Cutler, who led the league in interceptions only two seasons ago.
It should also be noted that Juan Castillo has said that he plans to model the Eagles defense after the Bears defensive style of swarming to the ball and "attacking," so this figures to be a telling matchup.
On the other side of the ball, Vick should be ready to face off against the first defense to really rattle him last season – though he did respond with a nice too-little-too-late comeback in the fourth quarter last year. It is also a matchup of a top-five rushing offense from last season and a top-five rushing defense, so expect the proverbial battle in the trenches to be of the utmost importance.
Overall Series Record: 54-55-5
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 1-0
Last Meeting: January 18, 2009 – Cardinals 32, Eagles 25
Game Recap: The Eagles simply ran out of time in the Arizona desert in what was the fifth NFC Championship game of Andy Reid's tenure as Eagles head coach. After storming back from a 24-6 halftime deficit to take a one-point lead on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson, the ageless Kurt Warner led the Cardinals on a 14-play, 72-yard touchdown drive which culminated in an 8-yard touchdown pass to Tim Hightower. On the ensuing drive, the Eagles would stall at the Cardinals' 47-yard-line with an incomplete pass on fourth down and would be left wondering what could have been.
The Eagles' string of three straight home games coming out of the bye week ends with a visit from the Arizona Cardinals.
Yes, the Cardinals who spoiled the Eagles' last opportunity to reach a Super Bowl in the NFC Championship game back in the 2008 season.
Well, these Cardinals aren't the same as the ones that season and the biggest difference - by far - is at the quarterback position where it remains to be seen who will be the starter in 2011. Kurt Warner retired prior to last season and no one was able to get the job done in his absence. That's why Arizona has been one of the teams reportedly most interested in the services of Kevin Kolb.
Arizona finished 5-11 and dead last in the NFC West last year, but again, that was only two games behind first-place Seattle. Could the Eagles see a rookie quarterback in Blaine Gabbert? It certainly is possible. If the Cardinals can solidify the quarterback position, they still have one of the deadliest wide receivers in the game in Larry Fitzgerald.
The loss of Warner was certainly the biggest storyline for the Cardinals last year, but they also lost a number of key veterans on defense including Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt, a former Steelers assistant, dabbled with a 4-3 scheme at times last season because of the personnel on defense, but he will try to get back to the attacking 3-4 style that he learned in Pittsburgh.
Depending on how these teams are at this point, this could be the classic "trap game" for the Eagles with a showdown in New York against the Giants the following week.
Overall Series Record: 74-82-2
Record at New Meadowlands Stadium: 1-0
Last Meeting at New Meadowlands Stadium: Eagles 38, Giants 31
Game Recap: Let's see, nothing too memorable at this game. Oh wait, actually, the Eagles erased a 21-point deficit with just over eight minutes left in the game thanks to a superlative effort from Michael Vick, who ran for 130 yards on the afternoon. And then, with a tie score and only seconds left on the clock, the Giants actually punted to DeSean Jackson, who rewarded them with the first walkoff punt return touchdown in NFL history. So yeah, this will be a tough act to follow up.
What will the Eagles do for an encore?
The Eagles have dominated the season series with the Giants of late winning the last six contests including playoffs. The past three trips to New York (yes, in actuality New Jersey) have been memorable, but nothing will likely top the Miracle at the New Meadowlands from last season. In the Eagles' first trip to the new digs, they trailed 31-10 in the fourth quarter with just eight minutes left in the game. However, the Eagles scored the game's final 28 points capped off by a walkoff punt return for a touchdown by DeSean Jackson to win the game and ultimately the NFC East.
The Giants crumbled after the December 19 loss last season and missed the postseason. One of the biggest reasons for coming up short was the insane amount of turnovers from a year ago - 42 in all. The thing is that the Giants showed in both games last season that they could bottle up the Eagles and are not that far from challenging for the top spot in the division.
All week leading up to this game, the talk will be about Jackson's Miracle from last season. With a punt return touchdown in each of last two trips to New York, the question will be whether Matt Dodge will actually punt to Jackson at any point in the game?
The game comes at an intriguing time in the year. The Eagles will not have played on the road in over a month after a bye and three straight home contests. Unlike last year's battle at New Meadowlands Stadium, this game is going to be too early to determine the ultimate fate of either team. Then again, you never know.
Overall Series Record: 6-5
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 0-1
Last Meeting: November 25, 2007 – Patriots 31, Eagles 28
Game Recap: This might have been where the Eagles fell in love with Asante Samuel. The Patriot-turned-Eagle intercepted A.J. Feeley twice and returned one for a touchdown as New England survived its toughest test to date in their undefeated regular season coming out with a 31-28 win. Feeley, starting for an injured Donovan McNabb, helped the Eagles get a 28-24 lead midway through the fourth quarter until a Laurence Maroney touchdown run put New England ahead for good.
In a Super Bowl XXXIX rematch, the Patriots come to Lincoln Financial Field for only the second time (in the regular season). The game is also a chance for Andy Reid to get the better of Patriots head coach Bill Belichik, to whom Reid has lost in each of their three meetings. Of course, the Patriots have more than Belichik, notably Tom Brady, one of the best quarterbacks in league history.
Last season, Brady led an offense that was tops in the entire NFL with 32.4 points per game (the Eagles were third), which was all the more astounding when you consider that the long-haired signal-caller led the league with the best interception rate. Brady and his receivers will no doubt put the Eagles defense to the test – expect the nickel cornerback to be under intense scrutiny as whoever that may be (likely Joselio Hanson) figures to draw the Wes Welker assignment. And you better believe that Asante Samuel will be hoping for a big game as he goes up against his former team for the first time in the regular season.
The Patriots defense, however, left something to be desired in 2010 and they're expected to make some changes this offseason, armed with two first-round draft choices. The Patriots were especially vulnerable through the air last year (they were 30th in pass defense) and were dead last in third-down defense. That's good news for an Eagles offense that sports the last-resort legs of Michael Vick, who can always extend the play, or create the play, when necessary.
The Patriots have long been searching for speed in the secondary, which will be of the utmost importance if they're to combat the combo of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. In the ideal scenario, the Eagles would be able to take care of business here in easy fashion, because they face an imposing cross-country game in Seattle only four days after this tilt.
Overall Series Record: 7-5
Record at Qwest Field: 2-0
Last Meeting: November 2, 2008 – Eagles 26, Seahawks 7
Game Recap: After falling behind in the first quarter on a 90-yard touchdown connection from Seneca Wallace to Koren Robinson, the Eagles would put their mark on the game and shut the Seahawks out from then on. Reggie Brown hit paydirt, but more notably so did touchdown Todd Herremans, as he caught the first score of his career. And the always reliable David Akers knocked home four field goals.
The Eagles better hope for a refreshing three days before this matchup against the defending NFC West champions, because they face a West coast Thursday night game only four days after playing the New England Patriots at home.
The Seahawks are an interesting case study for a defending division champion though, not only because they won the NFC West with a 7-9 record. They also have a toss-up situation at quarterback, where incumbent veteran Matt Hasselbeck is a free-agent-to-be and Charlie Whitehurst doesn't look the part of a future standard bearer at the position – so the Seahawks could even surprise and pick a quarterback early in the draft.
Beyond the sub-.500 record, the Seahawks were significantly sub-par on offense (28th in the league in total offense) and were especially anemic in the run game (aside from Marshawn Lynch's put-his-team-on-his-back run in the playoffs), with only 89 yards on the ground per game (31st in the league).
And how 'bout the matchup of pass-rushers between the two members of last offseason's trade, Chris Clemons and Darryl Tapp? After a slow start to his first season in Philadelphia, Tapp emerged as a solid rotation player and figures to see the field even more in 2011. Meanwhile, Clemons sported a career-high 11.0 sacks in his first year as a Seahawk.
As far as the Eagles offense is concerned, this is another game against a team with a mediocre 2010 pass defense. The Seahawks were 27th in the league in passing yards allowed per game, so – stop if you've heard this before – expect DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to play a big factor in the outcome of the primetime game on a short week.
Overall Series Record: 5-7
Record at Sun Life Stadium: 1-2
Last Meeting: November 18, 2007 – Eagles 17, Dolphins 7
Game Recap: After falling behind 7-0 on an 87-yard punt return touchdown by Dolphins receiver Ted Ginn, the Eagles worked their way back behind A.J. Feeley, who came in relief of an injured Donovan McNabb. Touchdowns by Correll Buckhalter and Jason Avant gave the Eagles all the points they needed thanks to a dominant performance by the Eagles defense which shut out the Dolphins offense. That dominance came on a play-by-play basis, as the defense caused no turnovers, nor did they register a sack.
It was 2003. The Eagles invaded Miami and turned the stadium midnight green as fans turned the city into Philly South.
Will it happen again? Well, one of the biggest reasons that it could, will be the fact that the game is in December forcing some birds to fly south for the winter.
The Dolphins open up a string of back-to-back AFC East contests late in the season which is unusual where in recent years the final month has been typically reserved for NFC East clashes.
Miami finished third in the AFC East with a 7-9 record well behind New England and New York in 2010. The Dolphins flirted with Jim Harbaugh before deciding to stick with coach Tony Sparano. Miami lost its last three games and have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
And believe it or not, the Dolphins' biggest struggles came ... at home. They were 1-7 in Sun Life Stadium and a big reason is the struggles on offense where the Dolphins finished 30th in the league in points scored. It remains to be seen whether Chad Henne is the answer at quarterback. The Dolphins are reportedly open to using the No. 15 pick in the upcoming draft on a quarterback. New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll comes over from Cleveland where he turned Peyton Hillis into a potential coverboy for Madden.
The defense is one of the best in the league under the guidance of coordinator Mike Nolan. The chessmatch between he and quarterback Michael Vick will be a good one, especially with pass rush force Cameron Wake coming from the outside in the 3-4 look. However, can anyone cover DeSean Jackson man-to-man, the Dolphins who utlize that style of defense might pay the price if they try to do so.
It could be an electric scene in Miami with the Eagles fans invading and the team hopefully putting the final touches on another division title.
Overall Series Record: 8-0
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 1-0
Last Meeting: October 14, 2007 – Eagles 16, Jets 9
Game Recap: It didn't matter that the New York Jets wore their throwback uniforms paying homage to the New York Titans. The Eagles did just enough to come away with a 16-9 win as Kevin Curtis hauled in a 75-yard touchdown pass and finished with 121 receiving yards on the day to pace the Eagles. Andy Reid remained undefeated after the bye week and the Jets or Titans, despite 130 rushing yards from Thomas Jones, were only able to muster three field goals. In addition, the Eagles remained undefeated all-time against the New York Jets.
In what will be their third matchup against an AFC East team in four games, the Eagles welcome in the New York Jets for a Week 15 game that both teams expect will have significant playoff consequences. Though it's a nonconference game, both the Jets and Eagles harbor big expectations for the upcoming season, so they could potentially be playing for playoff seeding at this point.
History is in the Eagles' corner for this game as they have a perfect 8-0 record against the Jets in regular season games. And the game will be a treat for fans who have seen the two teams go head-to-head in preseason finales for the past few years, as now the starters will do battle with so much on the line.
On the field, it figures to be a stiff test for the Eagles offense. The Jets finished third in overall defense last year, and that was considered a disappointment by the standards of outspoken head coach Rex Ryan. Of course, Ryan is the son of former Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan, so there's that subplot as well.
And while we've highlighted the expected difficult that some teams may have covering the Eagles' outstanding receiving corps, the Jets should be well prepared as they employ perhaps the best cornerback in the game in Darrelle Revis. Revis is often used to shadow a team's best receiver, so it figures to be interesting to see if he spends more time across from DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin.
On the other side of the ball, Mark Sanchez has often been derided as a "game-manager" for the Jets, shepherding the offense along to do just enough that the defense can win games. But it's tough to argue with Sanchez's track record of back-to-back AFC Championship games. Along those lines, expect the Jets to pound the ball on the ground as they were the fourth-most prolific rushing team in the league in 2010. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene offer different skill sets, and with new defensive line coach Jim Washburn's noted scheme of splitting his defensive ends out wide, the impetus will be on the linebackers to pursue the ball from sideline to sideline.
That defensive line will be charged with getting after Sanchez, who was only sacked about once every 20 pass attempts in 2010, good for eighth-best in the league. In other words, the job for Trent Cole and crew will be to just go get a gosh-darn sack.
Overall Series Record: 45-59
Record at Cowboys Stadium: 1-2
Last Meeting at Cowboys Stadium: December 12, 2010 – Eagles 30, Cowboys 27
Game Recap: In a Sunday night affair, the Eagles ran just fast enough that the Cowboys couldn't quite catch up, as evidenced by DeSean Jackson's career-long 91-yard touchdown reception, which he punctuated with a perfectly executed Nestea plunge into the end zone. Jackson had an astounding 210 yards receiving on only four catches on the evening, cementing himself as the premier big-play receiver in the league. Somewhat overshadowed, LeSean McCoy ran for a career high 149 yards.
Cowboys Stadium was the unfriendliest of confines in 2009, as the Eagles lost games there in consecutive weeks to end the season.
Last year, the Eagles made a splash - well, DeSean Jackson did anyway - to get their first win in the new digs. In fact, it was the Eagles' first win in Dallas since the Brian Westbrook slide at the 1-yard line to run the clock in 2007.
Jackson's 91-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter capped off with him falling backwards into the end zone provided the go-ahead points in a 30-27 win. Jackson was corralled by the Cowboys to the tune of just 79 receiving yards in three games in 2009, but there was no stopping Jackson in this Sunday night game as he had a career-high 210 yards which also included a 60-yard catch to start the game.
The Cowboys had hoped last year to become the first team to host a Super Bowl. Well, after a 1-7 start, that wasn't happening and Wade Phillips got the axe and in came Jason Garrett. The Cowboys rallied to finish third in the NFC East with a 6-10 record as Garrett went 5-3 as the interim coach before getting the gig on a full-time basis.
To say that the Cowboys underachieved in 2010 would be an understatement. The question now is whether Garrett can keep working his magic moving forward. Tony Romo ended the season on the sidelines due to a collarbone injury. Is Garrett confident that Romo is the guy moving forward? And what about the defense? Rob Ryan, former Eagles head coach Buddy's son, is the defensive mastermind coming over from Cleveland. How much of Buddy's 46 scheme will we see implemented here?
The Eagles come here after a string of four non-divisional games including three against the AFC East. Back in 2006, the Eagles played the Cowboys in Texas Stadium on Christmas day and Jeff Garcia led the team to one of the most memorable wins in recent years. While it's Christmas Eve, will Eagles fans get a present one day early?
Overall Series Record: 69-79-6
Record at Lincoln Financial Field: 4-4
Last Meeting at Lincoln Financial Field: October 3, 2010 – Redskins 17, Eagles 12
Game Recap: Donovan McNabb's homecoming game ended with a Hail Mary pass hitting the hands of Jason Avant in the end zone, only to fall down into the hands of Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall. McNabb didn't do much beyond the first half to lead the Redskins, but the Eagles couldn't muster quite enough offense after Michael Vick was knocked out of the game on a scramble in the first quarter.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Eagles will finish out their regular season schedule with a rivalry game against an NFC East foe. But this time, it won't be the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, the Eagles will welcome the Redskins to town for a finale on New Year's Day.
And who knows what the Redskins will look like at that point? Donovan McNabb is still under contract, but all signs point to him leaving, and it's hard to imagine Rex Grossman would be the signal-caller for the Redskins by Week 17. So perhaps the Eagles will be going toe-to-toe with a rookie quarterback, but remember that didn't work out so great against Joe Webb and the Vikings last season.
But rest assured that the Eagles won't be overlooking the Redskins this time around, as Washington has given the Eagles fits at Lincoln Financial Field in recent years, including their Week 4 victory last season in McNabb's homecoming game. It's easy to say the Eagles could be looking for retribution here, but there figures to be much more on the line by Week 17 than simple revenge as the Eagles, like the Redskins, expect to be in some kind of jockeying for position among playoff teams.
The Eagles must account for Brian Orakpo in this game – which is something they've done well with in the past. Although Orakpo sports 19.5 career sacks in two seasons, he has managed only 0.5 in four games against the Eagles, which accounts partially to the Eagles' 3-1 record in those games. Stop Orakpo from getting pressure on the quarterback and you do well to neutralize the defense – like, say, to the tune of 59 points.
But as far as season closers go, this is a dandy. Even though the Eagles would be glad to be in a position to rest their starters like they were in Week 17 last season, the likeliest scenario is that there will be plenty on the line here against the Redskins. Hopefully, it won't be last game at Lincoln Financial Field in the 2011-2012 season.
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