No kicker? No problem!
The Eagles overcame a sloppy first half offensive performance, their failure to capitalize on turnovers and a game-ending injury to kicker Jake Elliot Sunday night to crush the arch-rival Dallas Cowboys, 37-9, in Dallas, before a national TV audience.
With the win, the Eagles improved their NFL-best record to 9-1 and took a commanding four-game lead in the NFC East.
Barring a total collapse, the Birds will win the division and host a playoff game. However, should they continue winning they could secure home field throughout the playoffs and a possible NFC Championship game in Philly.
But earlier in the game, things didn’t look so bright. After spotting Dallas an early field goal and taking the lead on a methodical eight-play drive, the offense stalled for the rest of the half.
But the Eagles stout defense did not give up a touchdown and the teams went into halftime with the Cowboys up 9-7.
Just before halftime, it was announced kicker Elliott had been injured making a touchdown-saving tackle on a kickoff return and would miss the rest of the game. Elliot’s immediate future with the team was also in doubt as he was said to have been placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol for a possible head injury.
Also in the first half, quarterback Carson Wentz was briefly shaken up and entered the sideline injury tent, causing some Eagles fans despair. But he soon came out and shook off whatever problem he had.
Losing Elliot seemed to cause the Eagles offense to play with purpose in the second half. Coach Doug Pederson told a reporter the team would deal with losing Elliot by going for it on fourth down and would run two-point conversions the rest of the way.
Wentz and the Eagles came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, outscoring Dallas 30-0 the rest of the way and cruising to a comfortable win.
A large contingent of Eagles fans were in “Big D” for the game, including Ocean City’s Tony Wilson, his son Tony and friend Parker Gimbel. Though outnumbered by tens of thousands, they made a lot of noise and delighted in the Eagles improved second half performance.
Meanwhile, the NBC cameras captured a glum Dallas owner Jerry Jones, who is feuding with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over the six-game suspension for domestic abuse handed down against running back Ezekiel Elliott. Also in the owner’s box was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a longtime Dallas fan, sporting a long face.
In Ocean City, Eagles fans watching the game could be heard cheering through closed doors and windows and overflow crowds at Charlies, Gregory’s and the Anchorage gave a stadium-like performance by the Eagles fans watching the game at those local establishments.
Is this the year the Eagles win their first-ever Super Bowl and reward their long-suffering fans? Only time will tell. But regardless of the season’s ultimate outcome, fans will point toward Sunday night’s win as one of the character-building games in their team’s resurgence.