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Cardinals hold, Eagles hold on to fourth-straight victory

Dec 1, 2013, 5:21 PM EDT

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After setting a franchise record for most consecutive attempts without an interception, Nick Foles finally made a bad decision—horrendous, in fact.

While nursing a three-point lead with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles floated a pass into the middle of the field, a desperation play made under duress. The ball was snared easily by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson in Philly territory. Trouble.

The pick would not stand however. The officials threw their yellow hankies on rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu for defensive holding, and the Eagles retained possession. By the conclusion of the game, the Cardinals were seeing another color—red—but no matter. The bottom line is Philadelphia walked out of the Linc victorious again, holding on to defeat Arizona 24-21 after another tense fourth quarter.

The Eagles improved to 7-5 on the season to keep pace with Dallas for first place in the NFC East. The team is now riding a four-game winning streak, including two-straight at home after going a more than full calendar year without a W at the Linc. Foles is now 5-1 as a starter this season, while Philly’s defense has hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in eight straight.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the Birds though. For starters, Foles looked increasingly uncomfortable as the game wore on and became ineffective late. While the sophomore signal-caller connected on 21-of-34 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns—zero turnovers—he was just 6-of-14 in the second half. The offense managed just two first downs over the final six possessions, excluding defensive penalties.

Foles struggled with accuracy some in the first half as well, despite hitting on 15-of-20 attempts. The QB was bailed out a few times by some excellent catches, and seemed to become increasingly indecisive as his confidence was shaken. Foles was sacked five times on the afternoon.

To be fair, Foles managed to post a 112.0 passer rating, and officially is now at 19 touchdowns without an interception—one short of Peyton Manning’s record to start a season. Arizona’s defense is also one of the better units in the league with Pro Bowl-caliber playmakers at every level.

Still, he certainly didn’t do the defense any favors in the second half. The Cardinals came storming back from a 17-point deficit with touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters on long drives of 80 and 86 yards. It doesn’t look nearly as bad when you take into account the fact that Arizona held the ball six times in the second half, but the rally made for a tight contest when it appeared at one point the Eagles might run away with it.

The fourth-quarter comebacks are becoming a concern though. Washington was able to turn a 24-point deficit into a one-possession game two weeks ago. That being said, the Birds were able to hang on in the end.

The Eagles got to punt the ball away after Foles’ would-be miscue, followed by a Cardinals four-and-out. There was too much time left on the clock for kneel-downs after the quick turnover, so on third down the second-year passer looked to pass. Foles hit the deck for a sack, and it looked like Arizona would get one last chance until the zebras intervened. Another defensive holding gave Philly 1st-and-10.

Ball game.

The Cardinals were livid after the referee’s calls, racking up some unsportsmanlike conduct penalties as time was winding down. It was somewhat understandable given what appeared to be ticky-tack penalties, especially after Bradley Fletcher avoided a flag for contract on Arizona’s final play from scrimmage.

Yet what truly did the Cards in were turnovers. Carson Palmer was stripped by Trent Cole, one of two sacks for the ninth-year veteran—he now has five over the last four games. Nate Allen and Cary Williams added interceptions, bringing Arizona’s total giveaways to three. The Eagles didn’t have any.

It wasn’t pretty, but this is the quality win observers have been clamoring for. Arizona came in riding a four-game streak of their own and ahead in the Wild Card standings. The Eagles and Foles bested them, and are officially on a roll heading into a big matchup against 7-5 Detroit.

Welcome back to meaningful December football, folks. It’s going to be a fun ride.

Notes

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• One week after destroying Trent Cole on a 60-yard touchdown reception to Washington’s fullback, the reserve safety blew up Brandon Boykin to break Larry Fitzgerald free for a 43-yard score. Later, Chung drilled Cary Williams. Chung is not just bad at football, he’s bad for his teammates’ health. Get well soon, Earl Wolff.

• Brandon Graham also had two sacks in the game after going weeks without making a big play. DeMeco Ryans had one as well, giving Philly five for the game.

• Zach Ertz enjoyed a breakout game. The rookie tight end set career highs with five receptions, 68 yards, and two touchdowns. Brent Celek also got into the end zone. Good game plan by Chip Kelly. Arizona has now allowed 14 touchdowns to players listed as tight ends this season.

• Although, what’s with using Brad Smith in a Wildcat formation down by the goal line, Chip? The Birds were driving before Smith bobbled the snap on first down. The loss killed the momentum, and the Eagles were forced to settle for three points.

• Glad to see DeSean Jackson returning punts again. He took one to the house that was called back for a holding penalty. He’s their most explosive returnman by far and should be back there at least 50 percent of the time. Jackson also went over 1,000 yards receiving with 36 on three catches.

• LeSean McCoy had 19 carries for 79 yards—a reasonable 4.2 average against the NFL’s second-ranked run defense. The All-Pro back added five receptions for 36.

• White-hot coming into the game, Arizona QB Carson Palmer was 24-of-41 for 302 yards with three touchdowns and two picks. Future Hall of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald was held to five catches for 72 yards, while the emerging Michael Floyd hauled in five for 99—both players scored.

  1. kirk - Dec 1, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    foles was terrible in the 4th quarter. chip kelly was worse. defense and some luck won this one. cautious optimism continues.

    Reply
    • jferg - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      Whats with all the thumbs down for this? That is a very fair and accurate description of this game if you ask me.

      Reply
      • kirk - Dec 2, 2013 at 5:56 PM

        thanx! i was curious myself! i’m happy we got the W of course but its pretty frustrating when you go out of your way to give the other team every possible chance!

  2. psudrozz - Dec 1, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    my favorite part of the game is where the eagles won.

    Reply
  3. clubberlangphila - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    The execution and clock management at the end of the first half was the best I’ve seen from an Eagles team in years.

    A great escape for the Birds. How much extra time did we give the Cards from snapping the ball with 10, 15 or even 18 seconds on the playclock? Our defense must be pissed after 4 of those minute-and-a-half-long drives in the second half. I understand the uptempo offensive scheme Kelly is going for but don’t be blind like Reid and focus on things like scripts. That inability to adjust ran Reid out of this town. Can somebody who gets paid to calculate things like that find the precise amount of time the hurry-up left on the clock and deliver it to Phila Sports Radio this week?

    #killtheclockkelly

    Reply
    • Tom - Dec 2, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      The idea behind up tempo is to seize the initiative from your opponent. Kelly needs to learn that slowing down the tempo can do this as well.

      Reply
  4. Steve - Dec 2, 2013 at 2:25 AM

    The calls the refs made were just make up calls for 1 horrible holding call on the Djax return which cost us 7 points and the no call on the Riley Cooper play when his arm was held.We would have had the ball inside the 10,so we were screwed out of another 7 points.It was nice,for once,that the calls went our way.Everybody talks about how great Luck is yet Foles has more touchdowns then him and he has played at least 5 less games.Stop with the nonsense….Foles struggled with accuracy in the first half ,despite hitting 15 of 20 ? Are you kidding me ? He was bailed out a few times by excellent catches…..Really ? So every pass is suppose to be perfect or the receivers aren’t expected to catch them ? Your biased against Foles is shining thru.The things that Foles has already accomplished in his short career are already pretty impressive.You sound like a Arizona fan.

    Reply
    • Jason R. - Dec 2, 2013 at 2:42 AM

      Yeah, Kulp, quit hating on Foles! Everyone hates how much you so famously bash on him constantly!

      Reply
      • Andrew Kulp - Dec 2, 2013 at 3:04 AM

        Like me or not, every regular reader has to admit that’s pretty funny.

        (p.s., corrected that little booboo, thanks Jason.)

  5. Jason R. - Dec 2, 2013 at 2:51 AM

    Couple notes: if I’m not mistaken the Eagles face a tough matchup “with” Detroit, not “at Detroit”.

    Seriously though, can we calculate how much time they didn’t take of the clock at the end? With the 2-minute warning acting as a 4th timeout, you really need to use every single second when it comes to forcing a team to use all their timeouts as well as get to the 2 minute warning. Eagles ended up punting with 2:20 or so left, I believe, allowed a couple extra plays to happen before 2:00. That could end up being the difference of one extra play, one extra TO, a game tying field goal, a loss in OT, and missing the playoffs. It could go from “something Chip needs to work on” to “that thing that kept us out of the playoffs” real quick.

    Reply
  6. Jay D - Dec 2, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Im glad you mentioned chung….good lord wrap up!!! youre not a wrecking ball.

    snuck away with this one….but its a win!!

    Reply
  7. erzug - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Can we find a head coach who doesn’t have clock management issues? There have been too many games this season where we build a nice lead and then stop doing what got us that lead in the first place. Two weeks in a row, Foles runs the ball late in the game. Yesterday he was gang-tackled by four defenders. Is that what we really want to see from Chip? One 3-and-out lasted 1:02 – barely time to get a refreshment and take of the helmet for the defense before going back on the field. Thank goodness for TV timeouts or they would have probably lost that game.

    It’s as if Kelly becomes brain-dead late in games and gets away from what got them the lead in the first place.

    I agree that Wolff is missed. He was vastly improving weekly until his injury and they need him to replace Chung ASAP.

    Reply
  8. erzug - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Can you imagine what the stadium would have sounded like had that 4th down non-call play been against the Birds?

    Reply
    • willh888 - Dec 2, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      like roderick hood humpin kevin curtis in the 09 nfccg? They owed us one

      Reply
      • Jason R. - Dec 2, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        Dammit will.h, I was having a decent Monday morning….

  9. bigdanasports - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    http://www.bsports.com/statsinsights/nfl/philadelphia-eagles-winning-games-losing-4th-quarter

    Reply

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