The Eagles found out, in a four week span in 2005, that they could key on running backs and virtually stop an opponents ground game. But stopping the run is not enough. Teams must stop even the threat of a ground game to win. The key to this is of course scoring. Both of these games were at Lincoln Financial Field.
Week 3 Oakland
The Eagles defense stopped both LaMont Jordan and Zack Taylor and the Raiders gained only 21 yards all day. With that, Philadelphia had red zone problems. As result, the Eagles stopped the rush but not its threat. Warren Sapp intercepted Donovan McNabb at the Oakland 18. The biggest mistake came midway in the fourth quarter with the Eagles leading 20 to 13. L.J. Smith caught a pass at the Oakland two and fans were all set to put the game away. Prompted by who knows what, Smith fumbled and the Oakland Raiders went on a 98 yard touchdown drive. The Eagles got a winning field goal. Final score Eagles 23 Raiders 20. Oakland quarterback Kerry Collins completed 24 of 42 passes for 350 yards and two touchdowns. By not scoring, the Eagles sacrificed a good pass rush and Collins picked apart the Eagles secondary.
Week 5 San Diego
This was no doubt La Danian Tomlinson’s worse day in pro football. He had negative yardage through three quarters and only seven yards all day. Nevertheless, the Eagles let red zone trips result in either field goals or no scores and nearly lost. Drew Breese completed 23 of 40 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. The following plays tell the story
–Don Edwards intercepted Donovan McNabb deep in Eagle territory.
–With Philadelphia leading 7 to 0, the Eagles ran out of time at the end of the second quarter at the Charger two.
–Taking the second half kickoff, the Eagles kicked a short field goal. But no touchdown. They led now 10 to 0.
The Chargers started moving the ball through the air and took a 17 to 10 led.
–Darwin Walker hit Drew Brees as he was throwing from the Charger 15. Jerimiah Trotter intercepted at the 19; but the Eagles did not move the ball a yard and kicked a field goal. Philadelphia now trailed 17 to 13.
Five trips inside the 20 but only 13 points. Quinten Mikel’s now famous block of a field goal gave the Eagles a victory, 20 t0 17.
The Eagles struggled in both games. They stopped the run. But not the threat of the run.