Good morning, Eagles fans! The Hollywood lights were not too bright for the Eagles who went into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, once again dominated by faithful Eagles fans, and shocked the Rams with a 30-23 victory last night. The win keeps the Eagles' playoff hopes alive and well for the final two games of the regular season. The players have off today and tomorrow but head coach Doug Pederson will speak with the media at noon today, which we will carry live. Here's what you need to know in today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft leading off with the importance of the heart-pounding win.
1. Underdogs Have Their Day Again
The Eagles revived the underdog theme of 2017 last night and played an almost magical game against the odds with a complete team effort. Nick Foles shined under the bright lights again, an undermanned defense played aggressively and forced two turnovers, and even the special teams unit made a game-changing play.
This was the effort the Eagles needed to stay very much alive in the NFC playoff picture ahead of next weekend's clash with Houston. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro writes that it was a team win that the Eagles will look to build upon:
"I think this was a good statement win for us to come on the road and show that we have confidence, for Foles to do what he did, it was a great win for our team," said defensive end Michael Bennett, who was part of a defensive effort that limited the Rams and star running back Todd Gurley to 82 rushing yards on 18 attempts, forcing the Rams to be one-sided offensively. "We've got two more big games coming up, starting with the Texans next week. Right now, though, we'll enjoy this one."
2. St. Nick Visits Los Angeles
Foles proved last season that he can come into any situation and get the job done. So, why was there any doubt?
Foles was fantastic last night in relief for injured quarterback Carson Wentz and led the offense to one of its best performances of the season. Foles completed 24 of 31 passes for 270 yards. His 77.4 percent completion percentage was the third highest of his career. Against an impressive Rams defense, Foles had his way.
The key for Foles in such a quick turnaround was to stay in the moment and focus on working with his teammates. He's been here before, but that didn't make it any easier:
"When you step on the field, it's emotional," Foles said. "There's a lot going on. It's Sunday Night Football, you're in LA. I think homing in on being in the huddle, not worrying about the score, not worrying about the clock, because that can affect your tendencies of reading different plays, forcing different things, and just playing.
"I really thrive in staying in the moment and just enjoying it and we'll see what happens," he added. "I really just want to enjoy the moment, being present, that's what I do and what I try to focus on daily."
3. Defense Dominates A Powerhouse
While Foles led the offense to an impressive night, the undermanned defensive unit put on a performance against one of the league's best offenses. The Rams' 23 points marked a season low at home in the team's first loss in Los Angeles all season.
Leading the way, per usual, was the defensive front and Fletcher Cox. The D-line wreaked havoc on quarterback Jared Goff and helped force a major turnover. The defense was also boosted by rookie utility defensive back Avonte Maddox, who returned after missing the previous three games with an injury. He was a force in the secondary and even intercepted Goff in the first half. Alex Smith writes that the defense ruled the night against one of its toughest tests thus far:
"To get a win on the road against a really good football team, it says a lot about the character of this team, the leadership of this team," Cox said. "To get a win like this today was really big for this organization."
4. Corey Graham Does It Again
One of the key defensive takeaways came from safety Corey Graham. His interception of Goff in a tide-turning third quarter was his second in two weeks and led to a touchdown to give the Eagles a 17-point lead.
The play happened when Goff tripped on his center's foot after taking the snap, stumbled to get back up, and was hit as he threw a batted pass toward a group of white jerseys. Dave Spadaro writes that for Graham, the big turnover was just a case of being in the right place at the right time:
"Honestly, I didn't think about scoring. I was focused on catching the ball. I didn't know where everybody was on the field. I just wanted to catch it. I was hoping to score, but as of late I'm been making a habit of getting close to the end zone."
5. Smallywood, California
The Eagles saw a face they hadn't seen in a while dominate the ground yesterday. Running back Wendell Smallwood led the Eagles with 48 rushing yards and two powerful touchdown runs.
Smallwood stepped up with running back Corey Clement designed to the Injured Reserve list this week. He stayed sharp and practiced hard for weeks on the scout team with Foles and was prepared to be a starter at any time. Dave Spadaro writes that Smallwood's hard work paid off in a huge night with explosive and powerful runs:
"I didn't know what role I would have, but I thought I would have time, so I made the most of my reps in practice during the week," Smallwood said. "I was hoping I would get a chance to help any way I could."
Check out the best photos from the Eagles' game against the Los Angeles Rams.
6. Alshon Shows Out
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was a dominant force on Sunday night. The Eagles' WR1 racked up 160 yards on eight receptions and was Foles' go-to target all night. Foles and Jeffery's chemistry was impressive considering the two didn't play together in the first two weeks of this season. Yesterday was the duo's first game since Super Bowl LII but Dave Spadaro writes that their rhythm was apparent immediately:
"It's just practice and working hard every day in practice," Jeffery said. "Coach (Doug Pederson) is always preaching next man up, it doesn't matter who's out there. Nick is our quarterback right now, so we're just rolling with it."
7. Player Of The Week
DT Fletcher Cox
The Eagles' defense as a whole deserves praise for holding the high-powered Rams offense to only 23 points, but Fletcher Cox once again showed why he is one of the best defensive players in football with a sack and three total tackles.