After a rough week, and a tough go of it the last three weeks, the Eagles played one of their best coast-to-coast games of the season on Thursday night, blowing out the Arizona Cardinals 48-20. Oh, what a feeling. What a relief. What a needed victory after the turmoil of the recent days.
Andy Reid deserves credit for focusing his team and preparing a superb offensive game plan. Jim Johnson deserves kudos for a fantastic scheme against Arizona's high-powered passing game. Donovan McNabb and his teammates are to be applauded for their execution of the X's and O's.
It was a win. It was a welcomed win. Have a nice weekend ...
The Eagles blew the doors off the Cardinals with a balanced, powerful offensive performance that gained 437 yards, converted 10 of 15 third downs, piled up 32 first downs and controlled the clock for 39 minutes, 33 seconds. McNabb was great, absolutely great. He looked so calm and cool and confident in the pocket with 27 completions in 39 attempts for 260 yards and 4 touchdowns. His passer rating: 121.7. McNabb also ran 4 times for 24 yards, part of a ground that game added up to 185 yards on 40 rushing plays.
Brian Westbrook deserves all kinds of love and respect for his performance: 22 carries, 110 yards and two touchdowns, along with 3 receptions for 20 yards and a pair of scores.
Everybody contributed. Everyone helped. Stung by criticism -- they heard it, no question -- the Eagles banded together and played a head of a game to get to 6-5-1.
"We've been dogged all week long," said Westbrook. "Now, we did what we needed to do to handle business."
Look, the Eagles know they have no margin for error. They know they have to go on a perfect run and also get some help to make the playoffs. They also know -- they truly believe this -- that they are better than the way they have played at times this season.
On Thursday night, they showed it.
"It was just one of those games in which we started fast and continued it," said McNabb. "We have to win. It's a must-win situation, but you take one game at a time."
The Eagles had too many penalties, 8 for 61 yards, but they turned the ball over only once -- when DeSean Jackson mistakenly pounced on a bouncing punt because he thought it hit another Eagle, and then Jackson lost control of the ball to the Cardinals -- and they forced four from Arizona.
The crowd came, saw and enjoyed. It was a fun night. It was a necessary night.
Some other observations from a great night of Eagles football ...
Hank Baskett was terrific with 4 catches and 33 yards in the first half. He made one fantastic diving catch and did a nice job all around catching the football in traffic, using his body well and making sure his hands were soft, but strong. Baskett then had a timely catch to convert a third down early in the third quarter. Baskett's playing time has certainly increased of late and it appears he has taken Reggie Brown's reps and opportunities.
Terrible injury suffered by Max Jean-Gilles. He was hit from behind and suffered a fractured right ankle. He'll miss the remainder of the season. The Eagles are going with Nick Cole at right guard with Winston Justice and Mike McGlynn waiting.
Quintin Demps played in the dime, replacing Sean Considine. Demps was outstanding. He made a nice tackle on Anquan Boldin early after a short gain, covered well, and continued his good work on special teams. Late in the game, Demps broke up a pass intended for Bolding on the sidelines. I suspect Demps will get more and more time in the final four games.
Considine played a good game on special teams.
The entire offensive line dominated, particularly Jamaal Jackson, Todd Herremans and Tra Thomas. Outstanding job in the run game.
L.J. Smith started, but Brent Celek seemed to play a majority of the snaps. And Celek played well in an all-around performance. Smith chipped in with a very fine 25-yard catch and run in the third quarter.
Loved the way both Chris Gocong and Stewart Bradley attacked the line of scrimmage and shot gaps and shut down early Arizona running attempts. As the Eagles piled up yards and touchdowns offensively, the defense did a superb job making Arizona one-dimensional.
Minus Asante Samuel, Joselio Hanson started at cornerback with Sheldon Brown and then moved inside to the slot in the nickel as Brown played the left side and Lito Sheppard played the right side. Hanson is an interesting guy. He has had a very good season and is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the year. Hanson is worth keeping, no question about it. Sheppard had a rough night.
The fans gave Kyle Eckel a standing ovation when he gained 2 yards and converted a third-and-1 situation on the team's first drive. Eckel helped in the fourth quarter with a couple of bruising runs.
And speaking of the fans, Lincoln Financial Field was lively and filled and every one of those fans who attended deserves a big thank you. Thank you.
Another good job from Akeem Jordan both at the WILL position and on special teams. Jordan's fumble recovery of an Anquan Boldin fumble early in the fourth quarter was huge. Jordan is playing well.
David Akers continued his sweet groove, nailing a pair of field goals to extend his consecutive field goals streak to 14. Akers is 6 of 7 on field goal tries between 40 and 49 yards this season.
Lorenzo Booker played sparingly through three quarters, with one carry for 8 yards. He had a few other snaps, but the Eagles didn't get him the ball at those times. Booker had a couple of good runs in the fourth quarter, showing great quicks and the ability to sliver through a hole. He ran for 21 yards on 4 carries.
Jackson had another 6 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown, his second of the season. Jackson has 53 catches for 775 yards in his rookie campaign. Such an impressive young man and player …
I wonder how much value dressing six receivers is providing this team. Neither Brown nor Greg Lewis has seen many reps of late. The Eagles are going with a lot of Kevin Curtis, Jackson, Baskett and Jason Avant.
Great game from Sav Rocca, who averaged 45.7 yards on his punts. Two of his kicks landed inside the 20-yard line. On the other side was Dirk Johnson, who averaged a paltry 36.3 yards per punt.