In all honesty, the first half of this game was horrendous. But the Eagles pulled it together at the end of the game just in time to win. After being deadlocked at 10-10 going into the 4th quarter, the Eagles held the Raiders scoreless in the 4th while putting up 9 points themselves.
Yes, this Raiders team had nothing to play for except a worse draft position, but this victory as well as the Eagles’ current 13-2 record are still impressive feats when put in context, and not just because Carson Wentz morphed into Aseel Tare from The Comebacks:
The Eagles played a good chunk of their season without their top corner Ronald Darby, have now played their last 2 games with a backup quarterback and will have to finish the season with him, have also played their entire season without their top special teams contributor and their best scat back in Darren Sproles, and played this particular game without the entire left side of their offensive line as starting left guard Stefen Wisniewski was out and starting left tackle Jason Peters was out.
Jason Peters has also been out for a while now and will continue to be out the rest of the season with a torn ACL, starting linebacker Jordan Hicks is also out for the season with a torn Achilles, and the guy who was drafted to back-up and possible replace Sproles – former San Diego State standout Donnel Pumphrey – is out for the season as well.
Although the Raiders are eliminated from playoff contention, it is not as if they just gave this game away. At the very least, it appeared that Carr and Lynch were giving it their all, arguable the Raider’s two centerpieces on offense. Despite the apparent effort, Carr had a pretty shitty performance in this one as he completed slightly more than 50% of his passes for 140 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Lynch on the other hand had a decent game, nearly topping 100 yards (he ended the night with 95).
For the Eagles, it just seemed like kind of an off game and there were some concerning plays that make fans wonder just how ready for the playoffs this team is. The only offensive player who seemingly had a great game was Zach Ertz. He ended up with 9 catches for 81 yards and led the Eagles in receiving. By the way, Ertz is currently third in receiving yards amongst tight ends. He is behind only Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski.
The Raiders first touchdown came on a play where cornerback Jalen Mills got fucking smoked by an Amari Cooper double move that turned into a 63 yard touchdown pass where Cooper ran untouched to the endzone.
See here Mills sees Cooper’s fake slant and instantly bites on it. He clearly plants his back foot in an effort to get in the passing lane, and takes his eyes off of Cooper and rests them on Carr so he can make a play on the ball. By the time Mills realizes his mistake it is far too late because Cooper is already out of his break and accelerating towards the endzone while Mills is busy flipping his hips in order to try and change his momentum towards the new direction of Amari Cooper’s route.
As one can see in the picture above, here Cooper is already accelerating towards the end zone with his helmet facing the pylon while Mills is still staring at the quarterback and has yet to flip his hips. The result ends up being a wide open touchdown with Cooper making the catch with about 5 yards of separation.
Another concerning aspect of the Eagles’ play in this game was just how poor the offensive line played in the absence of Peters and Wisniewski. THIS is not a fucking pocket:
That’s Foles getting close-lined in middle a collapsing pocket despite two Raiders lineman being double-teamed. A few the apparent lapses in protection were more the fault of Foles as well and shouldn’t be blamed on the O-line. Foles needs to improve on the mental clock in his head that all quarterbacks must have in order to succeed in the NFL and get the ball out on time and effectively.
None of this is to say that this game was without positives for the Eagles or that the Eagles have no chance in the playoffs or any other similar narrative. Jay Ajayi displayed his athleticism on a screen pass where he broke a tackle and then accelerated past defenders and dove into the endzone to stretch the ball over the goal line for a TD.
Patrick Robinson continued his stellar play this season as well by intercepting a key Derek Carr pass late in the 3rd quarter. Robinson’s defensive teammate Mychal Kendricks had a nice play as well late in the game when he forced Marshawn Lynch to fumble for the first time all season. Malcolm Jenkins contributed to the turnover effort by stripping Oakland RB Jalen Richard and recovering the fumble.
But it was Ronald Darby who made perhaps the biggest defensive play of the game as he intercepted a Derek Carr pass intended for Amari Cooper that allowed the Eagles to get the ball back at midfield. The Eagles ended up kicking a field goal as a result to go up 13-10 with only 22 seconds left in the game.
Hopefully, the Eagles can use next week’s meaningless game against the Cowboys to improve their offensive rhythm and give themselves some confidence and momentum heading into the playoffs. By the way, if this Eagles offense scores 18 more points they will have officially scored more points than any other Eagles team in history.