Eagles defying the odds

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick celebrates the game tying touchdown against the...

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick celebrates the game tying touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens with teammates Danny Watkins and Demetress Bell during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 16, 2012. (REUTERS/Tim Shaffer)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:34 PM ET

Talent is not a question where the Philadelphia Eagles are concerned.

LeSean McCoy is as elusive as any back in the NFL today.

Michael Vick has a strong arm, quicker feet and while he’s not going to confuse anyone with Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady he can be a very effective quarterback.

He has a very capable group of receivers at his disposal in Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant and the sure-handed Brett Celek at tight end.

And while the offensive line may be a bit suspect, if not perpetually battling injury woes, the defence is a physical unit that matches up with any in the NFL.

So it should not be that big of a surprise that the Eagles are 2-0 to start the year.

And yet it is.

The Eagles have turned the ball over nine times in two games. They have been penalized more than either of its first two opponents and yet they have two wins.

It’s not supposed to work that way.

A basic rule of football is win the turnover battle, win the penalty battle and win the game.

The Cleveland Browns were flagged for 35 yards in Week 1 and turned the ball over twice. In that game the Eagles committed five turnovers and were as undisciplined as possible earning 12 penalties for 110 yards.

This Sunday it was the Baltimore Ravens who took on the Eagles, won the turnover battle 5-4, were the more disciplined team being flagged for 45 yards in penalties compared to the 58 the Eagles incurred but suffered the same fate the Browns did a week earlier.

Against all odds the Eagles are perfect through two weeks when they were anything but perfect.

The Eagles fans looks at this and says, great. We still haven’t played our best football yet and we’re still winning.

The realist looks at it and sees a team that is playing with fire. That kind of football can’t win consistently.

What has saved the Eagles bacon both weeks is they have been very opportunistic.

Twice the Eagles defence took the ball away from Joe Flacco and the Ravens on Sunday. On both occasions they turned the turnover into seven points.

Flacco fumbled on his own 15 early in the first quarter. Eventually McCoy went in from a yard out forcing the Ravens to pay the ultimate price.

Early in the third quarter Flacco was picked off by DeMeco Ryans around midfield. Six plays later Vick and Maclin hooked up for a 23-yard touchdown.

Now that’s making the most of another team’s mistakes.

Conversely, the Ravens turned their four turnovers into a total of 10 points.

This isn’t a long-term recipe for success. Turn the ball over enough, consistently give up yards due to penalty and eventually a team will be made to pay.

It just hasn’t happened to the Eagles yet.

And to that we say, enjoy it while it lasts.

QUICK HITS

If you missed the Jacoby Jones touchdown celebration you need to go find it on YouTube ... The Eagles giveaway problems are for the most part, Vick’s fault. Through two games he has six picks and a fumble, although the porous offensive line that continually allows Vick to get beat up, has to take some of the blame. But the other unexpected source of the Eagles giveaway woes is running back McCoy. McCoy fumbled the football once all of last season. He has already doubled that through two games this year ... The Eagles dodged a huge bullet Sunday. They came into the game with just seven offensive lineman dressed, were down to the minimum five halfway through the third quarter when both centre Jason Kelce and offensive tackle King Dunlap left with a knee and hamstring injury. One more injury to the O-line and a tight end or defensive lineman was going to have to step in as an emergency replacement ... Ravens rookie placekicker Justin Tucker is already making a name for himself through two games. Tucker nailed a 56-yarder with plenty of distance to spare to match the Baltimore record for longest field goal in team history. Tucker then went out and put a 51-yarder through he uprights. It’s going to be interesting to see how far John Harbaugh will allow the young kicker to attempt. Based on his kicks yesterday, 60 and beyond is not outside his wheelhouse.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Tough day for the Patriots who lost a football game at home for the first time in ages and in the process its other twin tower tight end in Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez had his ankle rolled up on and couldn’t put any weight on it as he left the field ... Strange times in New England where Bill Belichick opted to start Julian Edelman over Wes Welker. Welker wound up leading all Patriots receivers with five catches for 95 yards, while Edelman caught five of his own for 50 yards.

SEAHAWKS SHOCKER

When you’re bringing along a young, but promising quarterback like the Seattle Seahawks are, all the little things count and in Sunday’s win it was the Seahawks attention to detail on special teams that proved to be the difference.

The Seahawks got 10 first-quarter points off its special teams play and that set the tone for one of the bigger upsets of the afternoon.

A Felix Jones fumble on the opening kickoff gave Seattle an easy field goal to open the game. A blocked punt near the Dallas end zone led to a touchdown a couple of plays later and the Seahawks went on to a surprisingly easy 27-7 win.

Russell Wilson, that project quarterback the Seahawks are bringing along, was the epitome of the conservative, yet efficient, completing 15 of 20 passes for 151 yards.

Wilson, though, didn’t have to air it out with Marshawn Lynch running the way he was. The former Buffalo Bills back finished the day with 122 yards rushing and a touchdown.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, looked collectively like a team that was looking past its opponent.

NOT IN THE CARDS

How quickly fates can change.

It looked like it was going to be a long sleepless night for rookie Cardinals tailback Ryan Williams.

Needing only to hold on to the ball to kill out the clock and secure an Arizona victory, Williams failed to wrap up the football and had it pop loose giving the New England Patriots a chance to steal victory from the jaws of defeat.

Williams, though, wasn’t the only snake-bit player on the field as it turned out.

While an inconsolable Williams looked on from the Arizona bench, the Patriots marched the necessary distance down the field for what is normally a chip shot for its kicker, Stephen Gostkowski.

Trailing by two, the field goal would have moved the Pats to 2-0 on the year.

Sure it was a 42-yarder and not an all-together gimme, but the reliable Gostkowski has been so consistent, it was all but a given that the Patriots would emerge with the win.

Instead, Gostkowski, hooked it left giving the 14-point underdog Cardinals a 20-18 win. More importantly Williams, his head still buried in his hands, could be told those goat horns he had been fitted for were suddenly someone else’s problem.

BENGALS PULL THROUGH

Brandon Weeden got his quarterback rating out of single digits.

Trent Richardson proved to everyone, including the Cincinnati Bengals that he is indeed a force to be reckoned with.

But it was the Bengals that got the biggest payoff winning the NFL’s Battle of Ohio 34-27 on the strength of a superior passing game.

Andy Dalton, who already seems like a grizzled veteran and he’s only in his second year, threw touchdown passes to three different receivers, including his favourite target A.J. Green, in a 34-27 win over their norther Ohio neighbours.

The Brownies once again, as they did in week one in loss to Philadelphia, played well enough to win but didn’t.

Richardson, who earlier in the week had to listen to comments from Cincy linebacker Rey Maualauga suggesting he wasn’t anything special, finished the day with a touchdown on the ground, one through the air and a career NFL high 109 yards rushing. Maualauga wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet himself finishing the day with 10 tackles including one for a loss.

TEXANS HAVE THE TOOLS

All those NFL fans who fail to see past Arian Foster when they look at potential Super Bowl contenders Houston Texans are doing themselves a disservice.

Foster, while the centre piece of a very good offence, is surrounded by the kind of talent that has the Texans being talked about in Super Bowl conversations.

Sunday it was fellow running back Ben Tate who stepped up and cast the spotlight in a direction away from Foster who still had 100 yards and a touchdown in Houston’s 27-7 win over Jacksonville.

Tate finished he day with two rushing touchdowns and would have had the third that eventually went to Foster if he had managed to keep the fraction of his foot that stepped over the sideline within the field of play.

Still, a day with two trips to the end zone and 74 yards rushing isn’t all bad.

As for that Houston defence, how is holding Jacksonville to just four yards in total offence for the entire first half.

Yup, there’s a little more than just Foster in Houston.

 

REPLACEMENT REF GAFFE

Talk about opening yourself up to ridicule.

The NFL, in its infinite wisdom, made the decision to pull one of its replacement officials from Sunday’s New Orleans Saints/Carolina Panthers game because they came across some pictures on the official’s facebook page that had him wearing Saints paraphernalia.

The official in question, side judge Brian Stropolo was described by the league as a “rabid Saints fan” in a report by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. To which we ask, how would the league know?

What the league can know about is its full-time officials, the one’s who have gone through an extensive interview process to get to where they are. The whole replacement issue is fraught with potential embarrassments like this one and the sooner the league agrees to pay it’s full-timers and quits this charade with unqualified replacements the better for all concerned.

 


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