Philadelphia Eagles News

This Was A Night For Sanchez To Enjoy

As the time wound down on the Eagles' 45-21 win Monday night, quarterback Mark Sanchez and head coach Chip Kelly shared a few smiles and laughs on the sideline as backup quarterback Matt Barkley kneeled to end the game.

Sanchez's first start as a Philadelphia Eagle went so smoothly, he didn't even need to be on the field as the clock struck zero. It was just that kind of night.

The veteran quarterback finished the evening with 332 passing yards - the fourth-highest total of his career - and two touchdown passes, good for a quarterback rating of 102.5. It was a stellar performance in this, his first NFL start in nearly two calendar years.

Sanchez said he had nerves before the game, but he wasn't nervous. He was anxious. He knew what Monday Night Football felt like.

It had just been a while.

"I've been through a lot of that stuff before," Sanchez said after the game. "I talked about it during the week, but I've been through some tough times and I've been through some great times. I just tried to keep a level head, stay calm, rely on the guys around me, and at the end of the day it came through."

It came through in a big way. The Eagles' offensive line, which regained left guard Evan Mathis for the first time since Week 1 on Monday night, was able to open up big passing lanes for Sanchez to find a variety of targets.

Sanchez said the offensive line's dominating performance was a huge help in getting him good, solid throws from the pocket.

"There was a couple where we had plenty of time in the pocket," Sanchez explained. "Guys really pushed their guy to one side and really gave me a clear lane, and I got a chance to step up, get vertical in the pocket. And those ones feel the best, the ones where you move forward and you really just cut one loose. I think there was one to (Zach) Ertz, one to (Brent) Celek, one to Jordan (Matthews). A couple in there kind of got me going again, and those feel real good when you have time like that."

A few of those big, vertical passes in the pocket were completed to the rookie Jordan Matthews, who has quickly emerged as one of Sanchez's favorite targets in the passing game. Matthews exploded for a career-high 138 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches, seeing a team-high nine targets.

Sanchez said Matthews will acknowledge that a large part of his success can be attributed to the other weapons the Eagles have on offense, including wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy. But he said he also loves what Matthews does on his routes.

"Jordan just finds a way to get open," Sanchez said.

The Eagles hosted the Carolina Panthers in a Monday Night Football matchup ...

A touchdown pass from Sanchez to Matthews capped off the signature drive of Sanchez's evening - a 10-play, 91-yard march down Broad Street that put the Eagles up 24-7 and essentially sealed the deal.

Sanchez said that the drive was one of his favorite parts of the night, in large part because of how fast the offense was rolling. The Eagles marched 91 yards in just over three and a half minutes, at one point out-running the referees, who had to stop the game to reset the ball.

"We were rolling, huh?" Sanchez said with a smile after the game.

The quarterback said he had been doing extra running during the week to get a handle on the Eagles' famous tempo offense so that he didn't feel out of shape when he had to play a full, 60-minute game.

"It was fun," he continued. "It makes it exciting, going that quick. We sure don't win the time of possession, but it was so fun."

At the end of his last answer, Sanchez couldn't help but shake his head and smile. It was clear how much fun the quarterback had leading the Eagles victory; almost as much fun as the fans had watching it.

"It was just a great night," he said.

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