The Eagles win their fifth straight as they take the Detroit Lions down at home in the midst of a blizzard 34-20. Obviously the biggest story throughout the duration of this game was the insane amount of snow that was dumped on Lincoln Financial Field. At one point there was a measured eight inches in the middle of the field. With that being said, footing and ball security was an issue. In the first half, Philly could not mount any type of offense as their spread attack was hindered due to the playing conditions. Meanwhile, the Lions did not fare a whole lot better, however they did manage to bring the ball into the red zone three times. They were only able to come away with eight points in those three trips.
Overall, not too much happened in this contest until late in the third quarter. This was when the Philadelphia offensive line really took over. It was also about the time that the snow stopped falling so hard, so perhaps this made the vision clearer for the players on the field. Whatever the case may be, running the offense became easier for the Eagles while the Lions were still stuck in second-gear. Looking back at the play-calling from Philly, it is interesting that they were running a lot of sprint-draws early on. The idea behind a sprint draw is for the outside tackle to allow the defensive end to get up the field while vacating an area for a running back to go to. Back in 2011 behind the direction of Howard Mudd (offensive line coach), the Eagles ran this play to perfection. Not surprisingly, it is a play that is typically run out of a traditional formation (something Philadelphia had to operate out of due to the wintry conditions). The draw allowed the offensive line to play off a little bit; in other words, it didn’t require them to attack the stout defensive line of Detroit. The game-plan did make a drastic change though when the weather cleared up a bit. Philly’s line began attacking the Lion’s “D”, snowplowing them out of the way. This opened up huge holes for LeSean McCoy to run through, and he made the most of the opportunity. Shady ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the Eagles as a team ran the ball 21 times for 223 yards and four touchdowns in that final frame. The 223 rushing yards that Philly put up in the fourth quarter was the most by any team in any quarter since 1991. McCoy ran for a franchise-high 217 yards in this contest, largely due to the outstanding blocking up front. Clearly, the Philadelphia offensive line took over this game and was the biggest reason why the team was able to come out with their eighth win of the year.
Being able to rush for a whopping 299 yards was huge for the Eagles. Nick Foles had a tough time throwing the ball in the first half. Many of his throws were off the mark, including one in the second quarter that sailed on him and went right into the arms of Detroit’s Chris Houston for his first interception of the year. That interception lead to Detroit’s only offensive points of the game. Foles was able to make a couple of big throws at the end of the third quarter, including the 44 yard bomb to Riley Cooper in the middle of the field and the 19 yard touchdown lob to DeSean Jackson in the back of the end zone. Before those two throws came, he was able to do almost nothing in the passing game.
On Detroit’s side of things, their star player was the former Packer, Jeremy Ross. Ross returned a punt for a touchdown in the third quarter for 58 yards. This brought the score to 14-0. After the Eagles were able to tie the game at 14 apiece, he took the ensuing kickoff back to the house for 98 yards. Obviously, the Philadelphia special teams unit was exploited in this game. Part of it could be due to the footing on the field, but nevertheless you have to be impressed by the way Ross was able to make explosive plays on a day when they were tough to come by. Outside of the two return touchdowns, there were only a select few plays that Lions fans would like to remember. One of them was this awesome run by former Eagle, Joique Bell. Matthew Stafford was not asked to throw the ball a whole lot in this contest as the Lions tried to keep the rock on the ground. At this point, it is worth mentioning that a pre-game injury suffered by Reggie Bush really impacted this team. His presence in the line up could have helped the team quite a bit… or perhaps not. Bush has lost four fumbles this season, which is tops in the NFL by a non-quarterback. Fumbling was a major problem in this game for the Lions. They put the ball on the ground seven times and lost three of them. Matthew Stafford actually leads the league in fumbles with eight of them now, and he dropped quite a few balls in this game. One of them (that was recovered by Philly in the fourth quarter) lead to the 38 yard Chris Polk touchdown run, putting the birds up by (what turned out to be the final margin of victory) 14. It was a very conservative game for Detroit, and a sloppy one at that.
So in the end, the Philly lead momentarily gives them sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Their defense played marvelously in this contest, surrendering only 8 points (coming on a 20 yard drive that followed the Foles interception). They forced two Joique Bell fumbles in the red zone and did a great job of keeping the Lions off the scoreboard. The offense really got it going late in the game and the Eagles simply ran away with this game. Meanwhile, the Detroit loss really hurts them because they now own a narrow 1/2 game lead over Green Bay in the NFC North (with their 22-21 win over Atlanta). To cap this article, how about a weird stat: there was just one extra point attempted in this game (by the Lions). It ended up being blocked, which was actually the first extra point that Philly has blocked since Reggie White did it in 1988. There were also seven two-point conversions attempted in this game. Only three of them turned out being successful (two by the Eagles, one by Detroit). This certainly is an odd stat, and the perfect underlining of a very strange game. It was a good win for Philadelphia who keep pace in the NFC East. They will go on the road to Minnesota next week to take on the Vikes while the Lions fly home to host the Ravens next Monday night in a game with huge playoff implications. That one should be fun.