NFL Nation: 2013 Week 13 ARI at PHI Rapid Reaction
December, 1, 2013
By Phil Sheridan | ESPN.com
PHILADELPHIA – Quick thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles’ 24-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
What it means: The Eagles (7-5) have evolved into one of the most complete teams in the NFC, and they are in the thick of the playoff race. Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes to lead the offense, while the defense sacked Carson Palmer five times and held an eighth consecutive opponent to 21 points or less. After enduring a 10-game home losing streak, the Eagles have a two-game home winning streak and have won four in a row overall. They are tied with the Cowboys for first place in the NFC East and are in the mix in the wild-card race.
White knuckle syndrome: As big a win as it was for the Eagles, it did raise some concerns. For the second game in a row, they scored 24 points and went into an offensive lull that allowed the opponent to get back in the game. Against Washington two weeks ago, their 24-0 fourth-quarter lead was whittled to 24-16; Robert Griffin III threw a game-ending interception in the red zone, allowing the Eagles to hold on. This time, a 24-7 third-quarter lead shrunk to 24-21 when Palmer threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jim Dray. Whether it’s play calling or execution, the offense has to put an end to this dangerous trend.
Tight ends turned loose: After getting the ball for the first time on the Arizona 25-yard line thanks to a Palmer fumble, Foles’ first four throws were to tight ends. The fourth was a 6-yard touchdown to rookie Zach Ertz. Foles hit veteran Brent Celek for a 1-yard score in the second quarter and came back to Ertz for a 24-yard touchdown in the third. Ertz and Celek had caught a combined four touchdown passes through the first 11 games. But with the Cardinals' defense focused on stopping LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson, coach Chip Kelly countered by utilizing his tight ends.
Stock watch: Rising: Foles. The second-year quarterback was the NFC offensive player of the month after posting a 152.8 passer rating for November, the best rating for a single month in NFL history. Foles began December in fine fashion, completing 21 of 34 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns. He answered a couple of more questions, too, by playing well against a superior defense and by winning a game against a team with a winning record. Foles took some sacks and missed some throws in the second half as the Arizona defense tried desperately to get back in the game, but he continued to protect the ball and (except for an interception negated by penalty in the fourth quarter) make good decisions.
What’s next: Foles can tie or break Peyton Manning’s record of 20 touchdown passes to begin a season without throwing a single interception. (Foles’ 24-yard touchdown to Ertz was his 19th of the season.) He will get a chance next Sunday, when the Eagles host the Detroit Lions, another NFC contender.
December, 1, 2013
By Josh Weinfuss | ESPN.com
PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 24-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
What it means: Maybe it was the cold. Maybe it was the long trip. Whatever the reason, the Cardinals looked more like the team from the first seven games than the one that won the past four. And that’s not a good sign going forward. With a wild-card spot on the line, Sunday was essentially a dress rehearsal. To say the least, Arizona needs to go over its lines some more. Most of the issues that plagued the Cards early on surfaced again, but this time they had one distinct source: the inability of the offensive line to protect quarterback Carson Palmer. The pocket consistently collapsed on him, leaving him rushed and flushed. But Palmer didn’t make it any easier on himself by underthrowing on his two interceptions, one of which was a potential touchdown.
Stock Watch: Michael Floyd was the only constant for Palmer on Sunday, making a great touchdown catch in the back of the end zone while dragging his feet. Though his 99 yards barely broke his streak of two straight 100-yard games, Floyd continued to establish himself as one of Palmer’s go-to receivers, coming through on an important third down. Floyd continues to earn the admiration of the coaching staff for playing through an AC sprain in his right shoulder, which he appeared to aggravate again.
D-pendable: If it wasn’t for the Cardinals’ defense continuing to play at a high level, Sunday could’ve been a blowout despite allowing 24 points. Arizona sacked Nick Foles five times and when it forced the Eagles to punt, it took the Cards only four or five plays most drives to do it. All the time Arizona spent on substitutions in practice paid off. The Cards were able to move their men in and out quickly, getting the personnel they needed on the field.
Loose with the tight ends: One of the Cardinals’ few yet well-known weak spots on defense is defending tight ends. And the Eagles came out ready to exploit that. Zach Ertz, who had 68 yards, and Brent Celek, who finished with 29, combined for all three of Philadelphia’s touchdowns.
What's next: The Cardinals begin their second round of NFC West games when they host the Rams next Sunday.