EAGLES HANG ON TO DEFEAT JETS, EARN FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON
EAST RUTHERFORD: The Eagles jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first half against the New York Jets then held on for dear life, winning their first game of the season, 24-17 at MetLife Stadium.
The Birds (1-2) were finally able to get a running game going, producing 123 net yards on 39 total carries.
The passing game left a lot to be desired, but a win is a win.
Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles provided the offense, special teams put up a touchdown while the defense played perhaps its best game under the Chip Kelly era.
Mathews rushed for 108 yards on 25 carries to give quarterback Sam Bradford some leverage throwing the ball against a Jets defense that had produced 10 turnovers in the first two games.
Jordan Matthews was also the leader receiver hauling in six catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Bradford was just 14 of 28 for 118 yards but a number of his passes were dropped including two wheel routes to Sproles and Mathews that would have been for long yardage. The one to Sproles was an easy touchdown.
But it was the Eagles defense that ruled the day.
The Birds held the Jets to just 47 yards net rushing.
Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was 35 of 58 for 283 yards and two touchdowns but the Eagles intercepted him three times and caused two fumbles recovering one of them. That fumble recovery was converted into a touchdown.
Defensive end Fletcher Cox said the Jets are a good team but the defense felt like they could dominate.
“We just beat a really, really good football team,” Cox said at his locker after the game. “It came down to who wanted it more.”
The Eagles defensive line put pressure on Fitzpatrick all game. The picks came after the Jets signal caller was harried into poor throws.
“That’s what we talked about, that’s what we preached since day one,” Cox said. “Working together as a group. Today that happened.”
The Eagles offense started to jell in the second quarter taking a 3-0 lead and stretching it to 24-0 first on a brilliant 89-yard punt return by Sproles who broke a number one-arm tries at the start of his run.
The Birds made it 17-0 on a Sam Bradford 23-yard strike to Ryan Mathews on a wheel route that was there all day, and Mathews coasted into the end zone. Mathews had dropped the same pass earlier in the game.
After a mind-numbingly stupid attempt by Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to lateral that ended in a turnover (It was a completed pass for 15 yards), Bradford led the Eagles on a seven-play, 36-yard drive that ended with a Sproles one-yard plunge.
“Wrong time to gamble,” Marshall admitted after the game. “I was pressing trying to make a play, but you can’t do that. That was probably the worst play in NFL history….you can’t do that. The damage outweighs the reward so much…I think we down 17-0 at that point and that might have been the first real catch. I saw (TE Jeff)Cumberland sitting there. It was too late to do it. If I was going to do it, I should have done it a little earlier. But you can’t do that, that’s backyard football. It was a bonehead play.”
Bradford talked about the passing game.
“They’re a good defense,” Bradford said. I thought that they matched up well with us today. I missed a few throws and I think we had a few drops. There were a couple of different things on a couple of different drives that set us back, but like I said, I don’t think there was anything major. I’m really proud of the way we fought to get that win and hang in there. That was huge for us right now.”
The Jets (2-1) fought starting with a Fitzpatrick-to-Marshall 16-yard TD pass with six seconds left in the first half, then pulled to within 24-14 on a seven-yard TD pass from Fitzpatrick to Jeremy Kerley with 9:37 left in the fourth.
The Jets made it 24-17 on a 53-yard Nick Folk field goal with 2:34 left in the fourth.
The home team attempted an on-sides kick but it failed.
But Gang Green still had life
After the Eagles seemed to be headed to a fourth straight three-and-out, Jets linebacker Quinton Coples committed a defensive holding penalty that gave the Birds a first down and their first win the young season.
Kelly said he wants his team to keep and even keel.
“Like everything, it’s got to be the same mentality,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to make your corrections on Tuesday and then you’ve got to go, because what happened the week before in this league, sometimes doesn’t have a big impact on the next week. Every week is going to be a street fight and you’ve got to be prepared. We still have a lot of corrections we have to make, but it’s obviously easier on Tuesday when you are talking to a team after a win that it is a loss. We still have a lot of work to do.”