The Eagles are becoming the Cardiac Kids.
They have played in 12 games decided by a touchdown or less. Most of those games have come down to the final play. It feels like this team has been in the playoffs since the season opener, which the Eagles did win on the final play by keeping the Falcons out of the end zone.
Sunday was no different, with the Eagles coming from behind to beat the Texans on a last-second field goal. The roller-coaster season added yet another classic game, full of enough ebbs and flows to emotionally drain the calmest of fans.
There was a point in the fourth quarter when it looked like the Eagles might actually be able to take a deep breath and relax. They led 29-16 and had the ball near midfield. Rookie Josh Adams ran to the left side and had some space, but then fumbled the ball. Houston recovered the fumble and it was back to nail-biting time.
The Eagles eventually fell behind 30-29. That was a great comeback by the Texans. Fortunately, they scored too quickly and left enough time for Nick Foles to work his magic.
Foles got the ball at the two-minute warning and proceeded to drive the Eagles 72 yards for the winning score. He took a brutal shot in his own end zone that forced him to leave the game for a play. Jadeveon Clowney knocked the wind out of him as Foles hit Alshon Jeffery for a critical first down. Seeing Foles lay on the ground for that moment was scary stuff.
Drama, drama, and more drama.
It really is fitting that Foles led the winning drive. He was sensational all game long. Foles was 35-for-49 for 471 yards and four touchdowns, setting the franchise record for passing yards in a game. Not bad for a backup quarterback, huh?
The Eagles needed every one of those passing yards because the running game struggled. Houston played great run defense, limiting the Eagles to just 57 yards on the ground. There were some good moments, most notably when Darren Sproles raced 16 yards upfield to put the team in field goal range at the end of the game.
Sproles played his best game of the year. He ran for 32 yards and added 76 receiving yards and a touchdown. Sproles had receptions of 37 and 31 yards. The gain of 37 went for a touchdown on fourth down. It was great to see Sproles really making a difference in a big game. This season has been very tough for him due to the injuries. Sproles finally got to show that he's still a key playmaker.
Foles did a masterful job of spreading the ball around so you also have to spread the credit around. Zach Ertz had a monster game, catching 12 passes for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Ertz now holds the NFL single-season record for receptions by a tight end. He's had an amazing calendar year when you factor in the playoff run.
Nelson Agholor had the highlight play of the day. He got open deep and hauled in an 83-yard touchdown pass. Safety Tyrann Mathieu just missed the ball by an inch. Agholor ended up with five grabs for 116 yards. Alshon Jeffery added a 52-yard gain of his own. Big plays all over the place.
You have to give credit to the guys up front when Foles is able to throw for 471 yards. That doesn't happen without good protection. Halapoulivaati Vaitai filled in at left tackle. He struggled early on, but then played better as the game progressed. Lane Johnson shut down J.J. Watt. The line only gave up one sack despite facing a really talented front seven. Great job by the big fellas.
The Eagles' defense was erratic. Jim Schwartz would look at the scoreboard and tell you they had a good game since the team won. Simple as that.
He is correct in the fact that the defense did make enough plays for the Eagles to win. They sacked Deshaun Watson four times. The Eagles got Houston to turn the ball over. The Texans had gone a month without doing that. Schwartz's unit played good third-down defense and came up with a big red zone stop. The Eagles don't win without those plays.
The Eagles completely walled off Houston's running backs. Alfred Blue and D'Onta Foreman combined to run the ball 11 times for 13 yards. That is some serious run defense.
Unfortunately, there were times when the Eagles had no answers for Watson. He threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 49 yards and two scores. Defensive ends lost contain on him on multiple plays and that really hurt. Watson was able to get wide, buy time, and find receivers down the field.
There was a soul-crushing play late in the game. It was third-and-11. The Eagles collapsed the pocket on Watson. Brandon Graham got his hands on Watson. Then Chris Long did. Then Michael Bennett did. None of them could get him down. Watson spun away and found Jordan Akins for a big gain. That made me as angry as any play in the past 15 years. Thankfully, the Eagles won't have to deal with Watson for another four years (except possibly the Super Bowl).
Long had his best game of the year, with two sacks and a forced fumble. Jordan Hicks did some good things in his return. He deflected a pass over the middle that helped to stall a drive. Avonte Maddox had another strong performance. It doesn't matter whether they put him at corner, in the slot, or back at safety. That dude can flat-out play. He's played cornerback the past two weeks and really stabilized the secondary.
You can't talk about standout performers from Sunday without mentioning Jake Elliott. He did miss an extra point that almost proved very costly, but he more than made up for that by hitting the 35-yard field goal to win the game. Elliott was calm and methodical. I was a bundle of nerves. He put the ball between the uprights and the Eagles got to celebrate.
The Eagles have won four out of five. They are now 8-7 and still very alive in the playoff race. If they win on Sunday and the Vikings lose, the Eagles are in. Simple as that.
If this team gets in, watch out. They've been walking the tightrope here for a few weeks, so playoff pressure will seem normal to them. This team would be ready to play anybody, anywhere.