Whatever the Eagles do before a game, let's hope they keep doing it. They've scored on nine opening drives, scoring 51 points, and, well, it sure helps to play with a lead. Even during the shaky times in Sunday's 27-13 win over San Francisco, the Eagles had a lead. And they took that lead right into another postseason appearance, the eighth in Andy Reid's 11 seasons as head coach.
The goal is much higher, of course. It's Super Bowl or bust, as it is every season. For a night, though, let's revel in the feeling that once again the Eagles' season extends into the playoffs, and that once a team is there, anything is possible.
The Eagles clinched the day after Mother Nature dumped more than 23 inches of snow on the region. The playing field looked great and the stadium conditions were fine until some yahoos held a few sections-wide snowball fights late in the game. By that time, the Eagles had a 14-point lead and the fans were enjoying the party atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field.
In the locker room after? A few whoops, plenty of joy, but nothing like a celebration for reaching the playoffs. Reid said he hadn't even "thought about it yet" after the game. Donovan McNabb, who threw for 306 yards, a TD and also ran for one touchdown, understood the muted reaction.
"We have a lot more season to play," he said.
Indeed they do.
The win over San Francisco was as matter-of-fact as two-touchdown wins sometimes can be when you have a team that is expected to win every week. The Eagles jumped out quickly, started by Quintin Demps' 48-yard kickoff return to the 50-yard line, and they scored when McNabb looked right, saw nothing, then rolled left and found Jackson inside the 10-yard line for a completion. Jackson finished off the 19-yard scoring play by darting into the left corner of the end zone as the Eagles grabbed the advantage right away.
There were certainly some rocky moments, some plays that the Eagles would love to run again. McNabb threw two interceptions -- one in the end zone and one that led to seven 49ers points that brought the visitors to within 20-13, and the Eagles failed on an early fourth-and-1 gamble when Leonard Weaver was stoned for no gain, and they missed a chance late in the first half to get an extra snap when Weaver was caught up jawing with 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks while the clock ticked away and ...
Hey, it wasn't perfect. It was far from the Eagles' "A" game. But it was a win that lifted the Eagles to 10-4, and it produced some noteworthy moments to remember ...
- The defense bounced back from the poor performance against the Giants to record four takeaways. Safety Quintin Mikell had a great interception and admitted that the defense had a "chip on our shoulders" all week. The Eagles have 36 takeaways in 14 games, including 23 interceptions. Good stuff.
- Trent Cole recorded a pair of sacks and now has 11 1/2 for the season. His career high is 12, set in 2007. Cole was matched up against Joe Staley and it was, actually, a very good battle.
- Weaver was admonished for his foolish jawing with Brooks, but Weaver also had a really good game. He had a season-high 17 carries for 52 yards and he also caught 2 passes for 18 yards.
- Moise Fokou played in place of Chris Gocong at SAM linebacker and while Fokou didn't actually start as the Eagles opened in the nickel, he played very well. Fokou was credited with two tackles and a special teams stop. The run defense gave up too much to Frank Gore, who gained 107 yards to become the first back since Brandon Jacobs of the Giants last November to rush for more than 100 yards against the Eagles.
- Jason Peters had an excellent game against the edge speed of Brooks. Brooks had three sacks against Kurt Warner last week and he was shut down this time. The entire offensive deserves a lot of credit for a fine, fine game of protecting McNabb.
- The Eagles had 422 total yards of offense and they converted 6 of 14 third downs. Fantastic.
- McNabb threw for 306 yards and the score to Jackson, but you get the idea that he could have thrown for 400 yards had he been really, really sharp.
- Demps returned two kickoffs and averaged 35 yards per return. He could be a nice weapon when his ankle is completely healthy.
- Red zone problems? Kind of, but the Eagles went 3 of 5 for the second straight game there and are showing signs of life, even when Michael Vick went out with a thigh contusion.
- What else can you say about Jackson? The man deserves to be in the Pro Bowl. He has 56 catches, 1,087 yards and 8 touchdowns and is averaging a whopping 19.4 yards per reception. His touchdown catch was Jackson's first score in the red zone this season and had McNabb not underthrown him on a play that would have gained 59 yards, Jackson would have broken the plus-50-yard touchdown record in a season.
- Great to see Kevin Curtis on the field. He had one catch and one drop, but most important Curtis looked quick in and out of his cuts and he will be a contributor from here on out. What a nice bonus for the offense.
- McNabb completed passes to eight receivers.
- How good was the defense? Well, OK in the big picture. Where the Eagles were absolutely perfect was on third down. They held San Francisco without a conversion on 11 third downs. San Francisco converted 3 of 4 fourth downs, however.
- Alex Smith averaged just 3.9 yards per pass attempt, while McNabb averaged 8.5 yards per pass attempt.
- The penalty number is coming down, people. The Eagles had only 4, for a too-high 69 yards in losses.
- And finally, thanks to the Eagles fans who braved the elements and made it to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. It was a great crowd and it was very much appreciated by everyone.