It was a must win for both teams entering Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday afternoon. After a bit of a shaky first half, mostly due to a pair of terrible passes by Sam Bradford, the Eagles turned it on in the second half, picking up a 39-17 win over the Saints and saving their season.
With that out of the way, let's look at five takeaways from huge Eagles win.
After putting together a nice preseason, Sam Bradford gave the Eagles and their fans hope that if healthy he could be the franchise quarterback needed to make a deep playoff run.
Unfortunately, it has been an entirely different Bradford in the regular season.
Despite passing for 215 yards and one touchdown in the first half, Bradford was flat out atrocious at times. On the Eagles' second drive of the game, Bradford had Riley Cooper wide open in the end zone and all the time in the world in the pocket, but threw it right into the hands of Brandon Browner for an interception in the end zone.
The Eagles would put together a solid drive on their next possession, taking the ball into the red zone before Bradford would be picked off in the end zone again.
Bradford managed not to throw any picks in the second half, thankfully. On the day, he would finish 32-for-45 for 333 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 30.9 QBR. Ugh.
Ryan Mathews Might Be the #1 RB
Ryan Mathews had outplayed DeMarco Murray entering Sunday, but then again, so did pretty much every Eagles' player other than Caleb Sturgis this season.
Mathews again looked solid in the first half. He started the Eagles' third drive of the game with a 4-yard reception and followed that with a 7-yard run, 16-yard run and then a 13-yard reception on consecutive plays. Mathews would finish the half with 29 rushing yards on three carries to go along with 23 receiving yards on three catches.
In the second half, Mathews continued to look good and would finish the game with 73 rushing yards on 8 carries (for an average of 9.1 yards per carry), a rushing touchdown and 23 receiving yards on three catches.
DeMarco Murray Says 'Not So Fast'
Murray started the day slowly, much like the season, but picked it up as the half wore on.
Following the first half drive in which Mathews gained all the yards mentioned above, Murray would break free for a 24-yard run to get the Eagles to the Saint's 41 yard line.
Murray would finish the half with 44 yards rushing on nine carries to go with 12 receiving yards on three catches. For a comparison, Murray entered Sunday's game with just 47 rushing yards in three games this season.
The Eagles would continue to feed Murray the ball in the second half (maybe they listened to his complaints from last week?) and he would reward them with his best performance as an Eagle by far. In all, Murray would finish with 83 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown on 20 touches to go along with 37 receiving yards on seven catches.
Fletcher Cox Is a BEAST
There was quite a bit of penetration by Cox on Sunday (tee hee). The defensive end, now in his fourth season, had six tackles, three sacks, one tackle for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Cox was good in his first three seasons in the NFL (especially the last two), but appears to be taking it to a whole different level in 2015. If he can keep it up, there is no chance he can be a Pro Bowl snub again, not that the Pro Bowl actually matters.
Defense Continues To Improve
The Eagles defense continued to rack up takeaways on Sunday afternoon against the Saints. After entering the game fourth in the NFL with nine forced turnovers, the defense came up with another four - one interception and three fumble recoveries.
While they had forced a lot of turnovers entering Sunday, the Eagles had only six sacks entering the contest with the Saints. Thanks largely to Cox, the Eagles came away with five sacks against Drew Brees in the game.
The defense has been much better and more consistent than the offense so far in the season, but there is still room for improvement, as the Saints' first touchdown of the game came when a receiver lined up wide open. That is largely on the coaching staff for not calling a timeout before the snap though.
By: Kyle Babcock
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