5 Keys To The Eagles' Road Win Over RGIII And Co.
By Frank Irving
The 2013 NFL season opener played out as scripted for coach Chip Kelly as his new-look Philadelphia Eagles assertively subdued and then outlasted the defending NFC East champion Washington Redskins. The Eagles built a 26-point lead 1:25 into the third quarter, then made just enough plays to stave off a late Redskins rally for a 33-27 win before a crowd of more than 82,000 at FedEx Field.
The following five factors fueled Philadelphia's Monday Night Football victory:
1. Pace Of Play
The Eagles no-huddle offense operated crisply from the outset, running off 53 plays in the first half. They would finish with 77 offensive snaps and 443 yards gained — nearly a six-yard average. Owner Jeffrey Lurie gave Kelly a game ball in the Eagles' locker room after the game.
2. Effective Use Of Weaponry
RB LeSean McCoy had a career-high 31 carries for 184 yards on the ground. QB Michael Vick compiled 203 passing yards, completing 15-of-25 attempts, including touchdown throws to WR DeSean Jackson — seven catches for 104 yards — and TE Brent Celek. Vick also ran nine times for 54 yards.
3. Aggressive Defense
Coordinator Billy Davis unleashed well-timed blitzes to contain 'Skins QB Robert Griffin III, who looked a step slow in the first half.
CB Cary Williams, signed from the Baltimore Ravens in the offseason, played exceptionally well all around with an interception, a sack from Griffin's blind side, two solo tackles, and a key fourth-down deflection of a Griffin pass. LB Mychal Kendricks registered six solo tacks and four assists. LB DeMeco Ryans contributed eight total tackles and a sack.
4. Kicking Game
P Donnie Jones pinned the 'Skins inside their own 20-yard line four times. The Eagles' coverage unit allowed seven yards per return on Jones' other two punts. The kickoff coverage team held the 'Skins to 19 yards per return on three attempts.
5. Drive Maintenance
The Eagles converted 7-of-15 third downs, and went 1-for-1 on fourth down. That helped Philadelphia build a 32:39 to 27:21 time-of-possession advantage. The Eagles ran the ball 49 times for 263 yards, compared to 25 pass attempts for 180 yards.
In all, Philadelphia played well enough to earn an exciting, impressive road victory. Nonetheless, had the football bounced away from the Eagles on Washington's onside kick attempt with a little over a minute remaining, the result might have been different. Griffin would have had one last chance at a go-ahead score after leading his team back with 20 unanswered points in the second half.
C Jason Kelce summed up the Eagles' performance: "A lot of fun for the first half and a lot of nerve-wracking, bad play in the second half … I think the offense was very dynamic; there were multiple levels of ways you can attack the defense. We just have to do a better job of sustaining it through a game."
The Eagles reported no significant injuries immediately following the game.