Philadelphia Eagles News

Morning Roundup: Building Momentum

Happy Victory Tuesday, Eagles fans! Monday night's 28-13 win over Washington sets up an outstanding Week 14 showdown in Dallas with first place in the division on the line. In today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft, get caught up on all of the postgame reaction. Head coach Doug Pederson addresses the media at noon which we will carry live.

1. Stunned By These Stats

That is the fact that Monday night's win marked consecutive victories for the first time in the 2018 season. You can't say 2018 because of that run that resulted in a beautiful shiny trophy that resides in the lobby of the NovaCare Complex.

But after an inconsistent first 11 games, the Eagles started fast by scoring on the opening drive and finished strong. Philadelphia outscored Washington 14-0 in the second half and only allowed 36 yards to Mark Sanchez, who replaced an injured Colt McCoy in the second quarter, and company in that span. It couldn't have been a more balanced outing for the Eagles as they gained 218 yards of offense and 14 first downs in each half to finish with 436 total yards and a season-high 28 first downs.

The Eagles scored in the first quarter for just the third time this season. Philadelphia has won 12 straight games when leading after the first quarter.

2. Eagles Insider: Are Eagles Peaking At Right Time?

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro's postgame column looked at the good, the not-so-good, and what to ponder after the 28-13 victory:

Some sizzle is back for the Eagles. The spark has returned. The Eagles, given up for dead by some after the embarrassing loss to New Orleans a few weeks ago, are right back in the thick of things in the NFC East and in the NFC playoff picture after two straight victories. That doesn't change the "must-win" mentality, but you get the sense that this team is relishing the opportunity to go to Dallas and stay hot against a team that turned the tables at Lincoln Financial Field following the bye week. A team searching for its identity all season just might be on to something at the right time down the stretch in this regular season.

3. Zach Ertz Rewrites The Record Book

With nine catches on Monday night, Zach Ertz set the franchise record for most catches by an Eagle in a season. He has 93, breaking the mark of 90 set by Brian Westbrook in 2007, and is still going strong.

"There have been so many great players in this organization and to set the record at home is obviously really special," Ertz said after the game. "At the same time, the most important thing was being able to win. (Coming into the game at) 5-6 against a good football team, a really good run defense. They have good players up and down that defense, so it was something that we needed tonight."

Ertz leads all tight ends and is second among all players with his 93 catches. He is second among all tight ends with 978 receiving yards. With 54 receiving first downs, Ertz is first among all tight ends and ranks fifth in the league.

And for those who think he's getting the ball too often, he's extremely efficient catching nearly 77 percent of his targets this season. Quarterback Carson Wentz is averaging 8.08 yards per attempt to Ertz, a very good number.

The next records on the horizon for Ertz? The single-season receptions record for any NFL tight end is 110 by Jason Witten in 2012. Ertz is also 213 yards away from the franchise single-season record for most yards by a tight end.

4. Tate's Golden Night

Golden Tate had his breakout performance Monday night, catches seven balls -- on seven targets -- for a team-high 85 yards with a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

"Tonight was fun," said Tate, who was acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline. "We executed. But I have to say, it started early this week. We knew that if we have a great practice, we have a great chance of winning the game, and I thought the intensity was up in practice. I think that helped coming into this game being confident and ready to go."

Tate's improved chemistry with Wentz was evident as two of his catches on the opening drive -- including the touchdown -- came on broken plays. First, Wentz bought time with his legs as he drifted to the left side and motioned Tate to go deep down the left sideline. Wentz feathered a perfect pass, reminiscent of his connection to Darren Sproles for a touchdown against Pittsburgh in 2016, for a gain of 19. On the touchdown, Wentz again bought time with his legs as Tate uncovered in the back corner of the end zone and hauled in the 6-yard score.

The play that highlights what the Eagles wanted when they acquired Tate came in the third quarter as he took a short pass in the flat for 32 yards to get into the red zone. Tate has 387 yards after the catch this season, seventh among all wide receivers.

Check out the best photos from the Eagles' Monday-night matchup against the Washington Redskins.

5. Darren Sproles' Comeback

Tate is getting more comfortable and the Eagles added another weapon back into the mix Monday night.

The fans at Lincoln Financial Field gave Sproles a rousing ovation when he lined up for punt return duty in the first quarter. It was Sproles' first game since the season opener due to hamstring injury. Sproles gave everyone -- teammates, coaches, and fans -- even more reason to cheer after scoring on a 14-yard run (aided by Jason Kelce's outstanding blocks) to give the Eagles the lead for good in the second quarter.

Pederson made it a point to go over and congratulate Sproles after the touchdown.

"I wanted to go over and just sort of say welcome back and congratulate him. He just looked up and just kind of whispered, 'Thank you,' to me. He's such a class act, and a great leader on this football team," Pederson said. "Obviously, it's unfortunate his situation and the injuries that have set him back. But for him to come out tonight and do the things he was able to do, and then the guys -- I do believe the guys really wanted to get him a touchdown at some point, you know? It just meant a lot to him, but it meant a lot to the guys as well. So I just wanted him to know from my standpoint how much I appreciate him."

Sproles gained 22 yards on four carries and added 19 punt return yards.

"It felt great. Really fun to be out there with the guys," Sproles said. "I missed it a lot. I couldn't contribute to the team and that was the worst part of it all."

6. Defense Stifles Washington Offense

Washington entered the game with Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback. He suffered a fractured leg while escaping pressure early in the second quarter and was replaced by former Eagle Mark Sanchez. The first play didn't go so well for the Eagles as Adrian Peterson scampered up the middle for a 90-yard touchdown. That score gave Washington the lead for a brief amount of time but that was all the offense could muster. Washington gained just 36 yards of offense in the second half and converted one of five third-down opportunities.

"We didn't chance too much. We just wanted to make sure we stopped the run. They had one big play that we wish we could have back, but (in the) second half we shut them down," said defensive end Brandon Graham, who had a sack, tackle for loss (that was almost a safety), two quarterback hits, and a forced fumble. "I was just happy with how we all competed. A lot of guys take a lot of stuff with the new guys being in but, everybody has each other's back and you can see that today. Those guys made some plays in there that got us off the field. That is all you really want on third down, that is what has been killing us."

Take a look at the custom cleats the Eagles are wearing for this year's My Cause, My Cleats.

7. My Cause, My Cleats On Center Stage

Eagles players wore customized cleats reflecting their devotion to charitable endeavors during the game through the My Cause, My Cleats initiative.

"I am beyond proud of our players for the level of commitment and dedication they put forth throughout the year, both on and off the field," Owner Jeffrey Lurie said. "While tonight's game will shine a bright light on many important causes through My Cause, My Cleats, we should remember that the work they do in serving as community champions is ongoing and happens every day. Our players care deeply about making this world a better place and I am delighted to see so many using their platform to strive for change and raise awareness around the causes they find most important."

Lurie, along with coaches and front-office staff, will wear customized sneakers of their own to advocate for autism awareness through the Eagles Autism Challenge, which raised over $2.5 million in its first year. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 59 people under 21 living in the United States are on the autism spectrum, making it the fastest growing developmental disorder. For Lurie it is personal. With autism in his own family, Lurie knows his is just one of many families dealing with this condition and has seen firsthand the difference the right resources can make. The 2019 Eagles Autism Challenge is set for May 18.

8. A Victory For Everyone

In early October, just after the Eagles finished up practice, Owner Jeffrey Lurie went up to the Draft Room to make a special call.

Joined in the room by Ryan Hammond, the executive director of the Eagles Autism Challenge, Lurie connected through video with Jim and Pattie Gillece, who were unaware of what they were about to be told.

The Gilleces were among the nearly six million entries in the World Championship Ring Sweepstakes that raised more than $567,000 for the Eagles Autism Challenge. They thought they were finalists who were going to make their case to a panel as to why they should be given the final ring. No pleading was needed. Lurie was there to tell them that they were the winners.

Lurie gave the Gillece family their ring before the game on Monday.

Jim Gillece was a successful pharmaceutical executive who was on the verge of accepting a job overseas when he and Pattie were about to have Griffin, who is now 15 years old. They were meeting with a neurologist who told them that he believed Trey, who was almost 3 years old at the time, had Fragile X syndrome. Trey was diagnosed with autism. Griffin is on the autism spectrum as well. That meeting served as a wake-up call for Jim as he realized he had to change his career path and focus on providing the resources and support needed to raise two boys who are on the spectrum.

"I think it's made me a better person. I listen better. I empathize better. I am able to understand where people are coming from in a different way. You never know what's going on in someone else's life," says Jim, a gregarious man, who at 6-4 and 240 pounds has a heart that somehow outweighs his larger-than-life personality. "It toughens you up as a parent. It requires you to work closely with your significant other to coordinate and plan."

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