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(Nearly) Perfect 10

Posted by Eric Fisher On November 26

All you need to know about the competitiveness of the Eagles’ 31-3 victory over the Bears on Sunday is that the Eagles found themselves answering postgame questions about their celebrations.

The offense’s best celebration was a bowling-themed celebration after Alshon Jeffery capped a dominant first half with an 8-yard touchdown catch with five seconds remaining. Jeffery pretended to roll the ball, and then his teammates on offense, lined up as bowling pins, fell to the ground.

“I just show up and try to figure out what we’re doing,” said Carson Wentz, who was one of the pins.

The defense countered with an electric slide after what appeared to be a late-game interception by rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas. After a replay review, the call was overturned and the pass was ruled an incompletion. The dance, however, was not overturned.

“It’s fun to see (the celebrations) on a Monday, but not on a Sunday afternoon,” said Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who was afraid of getting a delay of game penalty.

As for the game, the Eagles picked up right where they left off in the previous Sunday’s victory over Dallas by shutting out the Bears during the first half Sunday’s at Lincoln Financial Field.

The 24 first-half points, combined with the 30-0 second-half advantage against the Cowboys, gave the Eagles 54-0 edge in 60 consecutive minutes of football.

How dominant were the Eagles during the first half? The Bears didn’t record a first down. That’s the first time an Eagles team has held an opponent without a first down during the first half since 1992.

Streaking

Another historic element to Sunday’s victory was that the Eagles (10-1) extended their winning streak to nine games, tying a franchise record. The 1960 and 2003 teams also won nine straight games.

“We’re playing with a lot of momentum, a lot of energy and a lot of swagger out there,” Wentz said.

The Eagles will try to set the franchise record next Sunday (8:30 p.m.) at Seattle, a notoriously difficult place for visiting teams. The following week the Eagles will visit the Rams before completing their three-game road trip against the Giants.

“We’ve got a unique set of challenges coming up,” Pederson said, “but it’s a one-game-at-a-time, one-week-at-a-time mentality.”

Dominance and sloppiness

The challenge for the Eagles during the second half Sunday was maintaining their sharpness during the second half.

Wentz connected with Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and Jeffery for touchdown passes during the first half. The Eagles outgained the Bears during the first half, 272-33, and had a 15-0 edge in first downs.

The Bears have played opponents tough this year, not losing by more than eight points since Week 3. Their wins this season were against the Steelers, Ravens and Panthers. But, with their strengths being their running game and their defense, the Bears aren’t built to overcome large deficits.

With the game firmly in hand, the second half was a little sloppy. The defense jumped offside three times in one Bears’ possession, which ended with a 38-yard field goal by Cairo Santos, the Bears’ only points of the game. Not to be outdone, on the Eagles’ next possession, the Eagles were penalized for false starts twice in three plays.

The Eagles also fumbled twice in the second half. (They fumbled twice during the first half as well, but one of those was by safety Malcolm Jenkins after he intercepted a pass.)

“It’s unacceptable,” Pederson said. “You can’t do it.”

To demonstrate that this was the Eagles’ day, though, Jay Ajayi’s fumble at the end of a 32-yard run was recovered by Nelson Agholor for a touchdown, giving the Eagles at least 30 points for the fifth consecutive game.

Man of the century

The only drama during the second half was whether the Eagles would finally have a receiver surpass 100 yards. The answer came when Nick Foles, who replaced Wentz with 9:37 remaining in the game, connected with Ertz for a 4-yard pass, increasing his total to 103 yards on 10 receptions.

“(Not have a 100-yard receiver before) just shows you how unselfish this team is,” Pederson said. “The fact that it’s not just about one guy. Everyone is making plays on offense.”

Pederson admitted, however, that the Eagles tried to get the ball to Jeffery early in the game against his former team.

“It felt great to get in the end zone,” Jeffery said. “No matter who you’re playing, you want to get in the end zone.”

Wentz keeps rolling

One guy who continues to be impressive is Wentz. He completed 23 of 36 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns without throwing an interception. Wentz has 28 touchdown passes this season, just four away from tying the Eagles’ single-season record, and only five interceptions.”

“You kind of home and pray and wish for some of the things he’s done,” Pederson said. “But this is just Carson being Carson.

“His will, his determination to make things right and elevate the guys around him is just incredible.”

Defense states its case

The defense may have been more dominant that the offense. The Eagles limited the Bears to 6 yards rushing. If quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s scrambles are removed from the equation, the Bears rushed for minus-6 yards on 10 carries.

By contrast, the Eagles rushed for 176 yards. LeGarrette Blount led the way with 97 yards, although he lost two fumbles.

“Our running game versus us stopping the run: we’ve been real dominant there all year long,” Pederson said.

Controlling the line of scrimmage bodes well for success in cold-weather football. And, of course, it would advantageous for the Eagles to play postseason games at Lincoln Financial Field.  With the Vikings (9-2) right behind them, the Eagles can’t allow their momentum to dissipate during the next two weeks on the West Coast.

There should be much more to be concerned with these next two weeks than whether the offense or defense produces the better big-play celebration.

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