Rebounds in season opener by Ben Simmons, who also scores 19 points


Posted by Eric Fisher On November 5

Going against one of the best defenses in football, the Eagles made an emphatic statement Sunday by scoring 31 points – in the first half.

By the time they were done, the Eagles had 51 points as they humiliated the visiting Broncos, 51-23, turning the second half into a celebratory party for the jubilant sellout crowd at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles and their fans certainly have a lot to celebrate.

  • The Birds enter their bye week at 8-1, the best record in the NFL.
  • Only four Eagles teams have started the season 8-1. All four (1949, 1960, 1980, 2004) have reached the Super Bowl or NFL Championship Game.
  • The Eagles have their first seven-game winning streak since 2004.
  • Sunday’s win gives the Eagles one more win than they had all of last season.
  • The Eagles exceeded 50 points for the first time since a 54-11 win over the Bears in 2013.

The Eagles are playing so well that it almost seems a shame to take a week off. But quarterback Carson Wentz says the break comes at a good time from a mental and physical standpoint.

“We’re going to enjoy this,” Wentz said. “We’re going to relax, and then we’re going to come back ready to go.”

Head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles can’t afford to get complacent during the break.

“We’re at 8-1 for a reason,” Pederson said. “We don’t want to go backwards now.”

The Eagles have a difficult schedule after their bye week. Their Nov. 19 game at Dallas begins a stretch of four road games in five weeks, including three straight road games against the Seahawks, Rams and Giants.

Dominant performance

On the other hand, Sunday’s game against the Broncos was supposed to be a difficult challenge. Instead, the Eagles dominated on both sides of the ball.

“It’s fun to see when everyone’s clicking like that, and the guys are having fun,” Pederson said.

The defense stymied the Broncos offense, as was expected with quarterback Brock Osweiler getting his first start of the season. What wasn’t expected was that the Eagles would dominate the Broncos defense.

Wentz only completed 15 of 27 passes, but he was incredibly efficient, throwing for 199 yards and four touchdown passes. His totals for the first half were 12 completions, 177 yards and three touchdowns.

“Great quarterbacks – and good quarterbacks – make the other guys around them want to play at a high level,” Pederson said.

Wentz is having an MVP-like season. He leads the NFL with 23 touchdown passes while throwing just five interceptions.  But the Eagles have given Wentz plenty of weapons. Tight end Zach Ertz, who leads the NFL with six red-zone touchdown receptions, didn’t play Sunday because of a hamstring issue, and it didn’t seem as if the Eagles missed him at all.

Alshon Jeffery caught six passes for 84 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. Tight end Trey Burton and running back Corey Clement also caught touchdown passes.

Pederson shuffled in running backs LeGarrette Blount, Clement and newcomer Jay Ajayi, who carried eight times for a team-high 77 yards. The highlight of Ajayi’s day was a 46-yard touchdown run through a huge hole on the left side at the end of the first half.

“It’s sweet to get him that long run and getting him going early,” Wentz said.

The Broncos had not allowed a rushing touchdown all season, but Clement rushed for two touchdowns and Ajayi, who didn’t have a rushing touchdown this season with the Dolphins, had one in his first game as an Eagle. The Eagles finished the game with 197 rushing yards.

‘Unbelievable’ defense

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles limited the Broncos to 35 yards rushing. Their early containment of the running game, along with a 17-3 first-quarter lead, put more pressure on Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler, who was making his first start of the season.

“The defense is unbelievable,” said Pederson, who, for emphasis, repeated “the defense is unbelievable. It’s fun to watch our defense right now.”

It wasn’t fun for Osweiler. The Eagles pressured Osweiler into mistakes. The Eagles twice forced interceptions in Broncos territory, one by Patrick Robinson and one by Rodney McLeod, to set up the offense at the 15 and 11 yard-lines.

“Once one player makes a play, someone else wants to make a play,” McLeod said in an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Derrick Gun. “It’s like a domino effect.”

Broncos struggling

The Broncos must have felt as if they were the dominoes because they were the ones that kept getting knocked down.

Everything seemed to go the Eagles way. The Broncos were penalized 14 times for 105 yards. Even a pair of questionable was-it-a-catch-or-not decisions – one for each team – went in the Eagles’ favor.

The only offense the Broncos could muster before the fourth quarter, when the game was already out of hand, were three field goals by Brandon McManus, with two of them longer than 50 yards.

The Broncos have lost four games in a row. They were playing their third straight road game and coming off a short week of preparation after a Monday night loss to the Chiefs, but give the Eagles credit for taking advantage of that situation and making the Broncos look like miniature ponies.

The Eagles also took advantage of Osweiler, who bombed out as a starter with the Texans and Browns in between his stints with the Broncos. But on Sunday, it may not have mattered if John Elway came down out of his executive box or Peyton Manning came out of retirement. That’s how well the Eagles played.

Future looks bright

With Wentz playing at an incredibly high level, and with Pederson keeping defenses off balance with a nice mix of runs and passes, as he did to the Broncos, the Eagles offense almost seems unstoppable.

“The way we spread the ball around,” Wentz said. “I think that will make us even more dynamic going forward.”

More dynamic than during Sunday’s devastation of the Broncos?

That’s a scary thought for the rest of the NFL.

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