Eagles control their playoff destiny
PHILADELPHIA — It took the Philadelphia Eagles 13 weeks to win consecutive games and they have to keep doing it to reach the playoffs.
At least the defending Super Bowl champions control their fate.
If they win out, they’ll secure the NFC East. But Philadelphia has the league’s toughest schedule in the final quarter of the season.
A first-place showdown at Dallas (7-5) is up next followed by a trip west to face the Los Angeles Rams (11-1). The Houston Texans (9-3) visit Philadelphia on Dec. 23 and the Eagles finish the season at Washington (6-6).
“We have our work cut out for us for sure,” Carson Wentz said following Monday night’s 28-13 win over the Redskins.
After an embarrassing 48-7 loss at New Orleans two weeks ago — the most lopsided defeat by a defending Super Bowl champion in NFL history — the Eagles seemed to be in trouble. They had a slew of injuries and easily could’ve used excuses to pack it in for this season.
Instead, they rebounded with back-to-back wins for the first time since Nick Foles led them in the playoffs last season.
“Obviously, we didn’t start the way we thought we were going to, but I think this one really speaks to the overall resiliency of this football team, the character of the guys in the locker room,” tight end Zach Ertz said.
“At 4-6, when we got drilled by the Saints a few weeks back, everyone had the opportunity to kind of put their heads down and sulk. But guys in that locker room really love the game of football. I think guys really love their craft. And I mean we went to work. Obviously, 6-6 now, not where we thought we were going to be, but at the same time we have the whole season in front of us.”
The offense has been more productive the past two games and, not coincidentally, it’s been more balanced.
Undrafted rookie Josh Adams has 42 carries for 169 yards and one touchdown in two games since taking over as the lead back. Darren Sproles returned Monday night for the first time since Week 1 and provided a big spark, scoring on a 14-yard TD.
“You have to run the ball. You have to have that balance,” coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday. “We had it the last two weeks. It’s been positive. It opens up a little bit more in the play-action world and getting the quarterback out on the perimeter, getting Carson on the edge and where he’s been good at seeing the field. It goes back to the offensive line, how well are they controlling the line of scrimmage and starting there, and we started fast last night and that’s a positive in the big scheme of things.”
Golden Tate had his best game since the Eagles acquired him from Detroit in October. He caught seven passes for 85 yards and one TD and hauled in a 2-point conversion. Tate’s arrival had set other receivers back as Philadelphia tried to integrate a new player midseason.
But Wentz spread the ball around against the Redskins. Nelson Agholor had four catches for 56 yards, Alshon Jeffery had three for 31, Jordan Matthews’ only catch was a 4-yard TD and Ertz caught nine for 83.
“I just wanted to be available when my time came and I wanted to help this team win and win a lot,” Tate said. “A lot of guys caught passes and when it’s like that, it’s always good.”
Notes: Pederson said LB Jordan Hicks (calf) and CB Avonte Maddox (knee) are day to day. CB Jalen Mills (foot) is further away from returning.