Wed. Apr 24th, 2019

NFL Winners and Losers: After amazing FG, maybe Eagles are best in NFC East

The Jake Elliott story is just too good.

When kicker Caleb Sturgis went on injured reserve, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Elliott off the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad. That was on Sept. 12. Elliott was a rookie and had never kicked in an NFL game.

Just 12 days later, Elliott was triumphantly carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates. Elliott hit a 61-yard field goal, the longest field goal in Eagles history, as time expired to beat the New York Giants 27-24. It was the longest field goal by a rookie in NFL history. [restrict]

If you’re a parent, or simply have human emotions, just watch Elliott’s parents reacting to the son winning the game. Remember, less than two weeks ago their son was on a practice squad and just hoping to get an NFL shot. This is pretty great:

The Eagles are off to a nice start. They’re 2-1 and the only loss was a very competitive game at the Kansas City Chiefs, who have been more impressive than anyone through three weeks. The tight games the Eagles couldn’t close out last season are going their way.

Maybe the Eagles are actually the best team in the NFC East. We heard a lot about the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants before the season. We saw the Cowboys get destroyed last week by the Denver Broncos and the Giants are now 0-3. The Eagles already have a win at the Washington Redskins this season.

If you paid close attention to the Eagles last season, you knew there might be a leap coming this year. They started fast last season and an early-season win against Pittsburgh was as good as any NFL team played in a single game all season. They had a midseason lull but that could be excused – they had a few injuries and a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz. They also had very little talent around Wentz, and they fixed that this offseason. All of a sudden they look pretty good, and it doesn’t seem like an early-season fluke this time. Wentz didn’t throw for a bunch of yards on Sunday, but he had two 300-yard games to start the season and generally looks pretty good. The running game is much better, with Wendell Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount each getting 12 carries Sunday and combining for 138 yards. They can rush the quarterback, are deep at linebacker and get good safety play. Cornerback is still an issue, but try finding a team that doesn’t have some weakness.

Sunday wasn’t the Eagles’ greatest game, but it’ll do. They played a desperate Giants team and allowed Eli Manning and Odell Beckham to get into a rhythm. That’s how the Giants took a fourth-quarter lead after trailing 14-0. But with the Eagles being tested late, Wentz led one game-tying drive in the final three minutes. Then in the final seconds Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery for 19 yards to set up the game-winning kick. And what a memorable game-winning kick it was. There have only been six field goals in NFL history longer than Elliott’s clutch kick.

The Eagles don’t play the Cowboys for the first time this season until Nov. 19. It will be interesting to see where those two teams stand by then. Sunday’s win might give Philadelphia some momentum. It looks early on like they’ve figured out what they did well last season and fixed some of the things they didn’t. It’s not outlandish to believe the Eagles could be the favorites to win a tough division. [/restrict]

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