Sunday's game was one that the Eagles absolutely had to win, even if head coach Chip Kelly won't admit to thinking in such absolute terms.
A loss would have dropped the team to 1-4, with all four against NFC opponents and two against NFC East rivals. Even in a division that currently boasts the lowest winning percentage in the league, it would have been a crushing blow to the team's playoff hopes. But instead, the Eagles coasted to a 39-17 victory, one that could have been decided by an even larger margin were it not for a garbage time Drew Brees touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks as time expired.
At 2-3, the Eagles have the possibility of entering a virtual four-way tie in the NFC East, pending the outcomes of games involving the Cowboys and Giants, both 2-2, later in the day. But Kelly isn't focused on the records of other teams in the division, and he's certainly not interested in breaking down esoteric NFL tie-breaking procedures.
The Eagles returned home to face the Saints in Week 5 of the regular season. View the full gallery here...
"We're not (worried about) conference or division. We had to win a football game," he said after the home rout against New Orleans. "In our mindset as a team, we had to come out and play on all three phases."
And that's exactly what the Eagles did. Their offense was as precise and explosive as it has been all season, racking up 519 total yards, the third most in any game since Kelly arrived in 2013. Sam Bradford threw for 333 yards, completed 32 of his 45 passes (71.1 percent) and tossed two touchdowns after throwing a pair of red zone interceptions early in the game. And on the ground, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles combined for 183 yards on 33 carries (5.5 yards per carry), finding pay dirt twice in the process.
"I thought (Bradford) did a great job," Kelly said. "When we run the ball better and are more balanced, we have an opportunity to stay on the field. And that's what we did, we ran the ball better and converted third downs so we could stay on the field.
"I think you have to give credit to our offensive line. They did a really nice job, and it opened up some things for our guys and let our running backs get started."
The defense was relentless, sacking Brees five times and forcing four turnovers. Two of those takeaways came courtesy of defensive end Fletcher Cox, who ended the day with six tackles, including four behind the line of scrimmage, and two forced fumbles, one of which he recovered. His three sacks made him one of just 18 players in franchise history ever to hit that mark in a game.
"(Saints head coach) Sean (Payton) does such a good job of spreading the ball around to different guys, so it was a big emphasis this week for us, more than any team we've played thus far, to contain the running backs in the passing game," said Kelly, whose defense allowed seven combined catches for 11 yards from New Orleans' backfield. "Fletcher has played really, really well for us in the three years I've been here. Sometimes it seems like sacks come in bunches. … He played a heck of a game today."
Kicker Caleb Sturgis, despite missing an extra point in the third quarter, connected on all four field goals he attempted. And because the offense was so effective, Donnie Jones' services were only needed for one punt, which netted 59 yards.
The Eagles can get back to .500 with a win against the New York Giants next Monday in prime time. That game also has the potential to propel the team into first place in the division for the first time all season, or at very least put it within striking distance of the lead. Just don't expect Chip Kelly to be scoreboard-watching on Sunday.