Eagles Soar Over the Lions Through a Blizzard
If you didn't watch this game, you really missed out. Watching this game was like watching a bunch of people out in a field playing a pick-up game in the middle of the blizzard, but it really felt like football. It was the antithesis to the normally sterile environments where the climate is controlled and the precipitation is held at bay by a dome. It felt like a throwback game to me. That being said, the weather does make you take the result and put it in context. Keeping that in mind, what CAN we learn from yesterday's win?
The Eagles ground game is Special-
LeSean McCoy is special no matter what the ground looks like. Yes, the traction was tough for the Lions defense, but the Lions came into the game averaging 76 yards per game. For comparison, the team leading the league in Rush defense currently (Carolina) is now averaging 79 yards per game and that actually went down this week. Then Shady McCoy went and tore through the Defense for 217 yards of his own and the team overall had 299 yards on the ground including DeSean Jackson's -10. Philadelphia basically took one of the best Run Defenses in the NFL and obliterated them. Give full credit to the Offensive line for that too, because that Detroit Lion front of Fairly, Suh, Ansah, and Young is nothing to scoff at. I hear all of you wondering out loud "But wait, didn't he say that we have to take into account the snow?" Ok, let’s take it into account. The came in Eagles normally averaging 135 on the ground but went for 299 yards Sunday. The Lions came in normally averaging 106 on the ground, let’s take into account that Reggie Bush was out and drop that by a third (though Bell deserves more credit than that) and we come to 71 yards, but they only went for 80 yards.
Why kick it to Ross?-
There's not really much to say here. There was a point in the game that Detroit actually had more yards on returns than their offense had in the game. Jeremy Ross basically tried to lift the Lions on his shoulders and carry them to Victory. I still won't understand why Philly kicked it to him again right when they tied the game at 14, but they did and he made them pay again. Ross averaged right around 43 yards per kick return and 36 yards per punt. Basically if he touched the ball on special teams, he gave Detroit 40.5 yards. I know it's a novel concept, but DON'T KICK HIM THE BALL. The "pooch kick" was working well, but then Philly went back to kicking to him. Honestly, next time they should just do an onside kick. That can be recovered and probably won't be returned for 7.
Pass Rush Pressure-
I know the announcers kept talking about how the Quarterbacks had all day to pass the ball because the defense couldn't get traction, but I have to disagree. The Philly pass-rush looked good. They were blowing up passing plays with all their pressure. Again, the stats aren't as spectacular when you factor in the weather, but the Eagles outgained the Lions in the air 179 to 148 and held Matt Stafford to 40% completion while Nick Foles was at 50%. Even with his first interception of the year recorded in this game, Foles' rating is still better than Stafford's was (73.9 to 60.1). That was pretty much all pass Rush as statistics from both sides include drops from good receivers in the weather.
Eagles Fans have become Bears Fans (For a week at least)-
With this win, Philadelphia fans are giving up their normal fight song and are practicing "Bear Down" for Monday's night's matchup. While a win for Chicago doesn't guarantee anything because Philly and Dallas meet the final week of the season, it gives the Eagles a bit of a cushion the rest of the way. Dallas holds the tiebreaker and their schedule doesn’t' look the toughest the rest of the way. They face what will most likely be a Flynn-led Packers team that squeaked by the struggling Falcons this week, and the 3-10 Redskins while the Eagles will face the resurgent Vikings and those same Bears (who may have Cutler back). Getting a full game lead would let the Eagles breathe a bit easier the rest of the way. Honestly if that happens and the Eagles beat the Vikings in week 15, week 16 against the Bears could be a game that doesn't matter in the division. With how close the NFC North has become, that may be a huge blessing.
Overall, as and Eagles fan, I couldn't be happier with Sunday's results. The Eagles are looking good and found a way to close out a game despite being down multiple scores. With all that being said, I'll leave you with the lyrics to "Bear Down". Brush up and be sure to sing it as often as possible tonight. Go Bears!
Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory.
Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly.
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T formation.
Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you're wearing the crown.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, Bear down.
Follow Cyrus on Twitter: @CyrusNaser