The Philadelphia Eagles looked like they needed divine intervention in their first two performances of the 2015 season. The presence of Pope Francis in Philadelphia on Sunday may have helped the Eagles pick up their first win of the year over the New York Jets.
Even without DeMarco Murray, the Eagles run game showed up in week three in Philadelphia’s church, Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles offensive line was able to smooth out the kinks in their zone blocking scheme against a stout Jets front four, allowing Ryan Matthews to rush for 108 yards on 25 carries.
Even with the rushing attack established, Eagles receivers dropped passes, a problem that has plagued them throughout the start of the regular season. Despite the continuing drop problem, the Eagles got out to an early 10-0 lead after a field goal drive and a Darren Sproles punt return touchdown.
The early lead forced Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw the ball down field and the Eagles defense capitalized, coming away with 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. In the absence of the injured Mychael Kenricks and Kiko Alonso, the Eagles three down lineman stepped up pressuring Fitzpatrick to throw into Philly’s young but competent secondary.
After going without a score in the first half, the Jets offense improved in the second half scoring 17 unanswered points, but the pressure of the Eagles defense proved to be too much for the Jets to mount a comeback, and the Eagles held on to their 24-17 lead.
All that being said, two plays influenced the direction of the game most. Midway through the second quarter Darren Sproles ignited the Eagles scoring with an 89-yard punt return. And late in the second quarter Brandon Marshall pitched the ball backwards, in an attempt to keep the play alive, and basically handed the Eagles the ball.
With the way the Eagles had been playing, those two plays and the Eagles win may have been assisted by Pope Francis and some divine intervention.