Eagles kick off their favorite month with a win
There’s something about December that brings out the best in the
After two straight comeback wins in the fourth quarter, the
Eagles kicked off their favorite month by routing the undermanned
Atlanta Falcons 34-7 on Sunday.
The Eagles improved to 8-4 with their third straight victory and
are tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East heading down
The Cowboys hold the tiebreaker because they already won in
Philadelphia, but the division title could be at stake when the
teams meet in Dallas on Jan. 3.
While the Cowboys have struggled in recent Decembers – 5-9 since
2006 – the Eagles have owned the month. They’re 28-11 in December
this decade, including 12-3 since ’06. Maybe it’s the cold air or
the anticipation of Santa’s arrival. Whatever the reason, the
Eagles seem to click when it counts.
“It’s that time of the year, that last quarter,” coach Andy
Reid said Monday. “If you’re still in the hunt, things get a
little faster, guys play a little faster and so on. That’s the
nature of the game. That’s where we’re at. It’s important that we
keep practicing the way we’ve been practicing and preparing the way
we’ve been preparing. The guys have been very focused the last few
Under Reid, the Eagles have always been a strong second-half
team. Overall, they’re 58-30-1 in November and December during
Reid’s tenure. That includes a 2-5 mark during his first season in
1999 when he inherited a wretched team and quickly turned the
franchise into a perennial winner.
Late-season success usually can catapult teams into the
playoffs. The Eagles have used their December dominance to reach
the postseason seven times in Reid’s first 10 years in Philly.
They’ve reached the NFC championship game five times and the Super
“This is something that has been happening for us for years,”
quarterback Donovan McNabb said of the second-half success. “You
go through the first part of the year where you are getting that
chemistry and getting that timing and things going. This is the
time of the year that people remember. You never remember
September, October. You always keep your mind on November, December
and January because, if you have that opportunity, you want to go
into the playoffs and hit it rolling.”
The Eagles certainly are streaking right now. They had no
trouble dominating the short-handed Falcons. Despite missing star
running back Brian Westbrook and dynamic wide receiver DeSean
Jackson, the offense racked up 380 yards and scored 27 points.
The defense shut down Atlanta’s depleted offense and chipped in
with a score on Sheldon Brown’s interception return.
McNabb threw for 238 yards and a touchdown, continuing his
strong season. McNabb has thrown for 2,427 yards, 16 TDs and only
six interceptions. His QB rating (94.7) and completion percentage
(61.0) are both the third-highest of his career.
Even Michael Vick contributed in his return to Atlanta. Playing
in the stadium where he once starred, Vick reached the end zone for
the first time in three years. He had a 5-yard TD run and later
tossed a 5-yard TD pass.
The Eagles now shift their focus to an important game at the New
York Giants (7-5) next Sunday night. The Giants beat the Cowboys
31-24 to jump back in the division race.
Of the three teams, the Cowboys have the toughest remaining
schedule. They play home against San Diego (9-3) and the Eagles and
on the road against New Orleans (12-0) and Washington (3-9).
The Giants are home against the Eagles and Carolina (5-7) and at
Washington and Minnesota (11-2).
After visiting New York, the Eagles host San Francisco (5-7) and
Denver (8-4) before finishing at Dallas.
Notes: Reid said both Jackson and Westbrook could return to
practice this week and neither has been ruled out for Sunday’s
game. Westbrook has missed three straight games after suffering his
second concussion in a three-week span. Reid said Westbrook hasn’t
had any headaches and will be tested before practicing. Jackson sat
out the win over the Falcons because of a concussion. Reid said
he’s doing well and has to meet with doctors. … LT Jason Peters
bruised his shoulder and suffered a possible stinger against
Atlanta. He left the game, but Reid said he kept pestering him to
return. … CB Ellis Hobbs, already on injured reserve, had surgery
for a herniated disk on Monday. … WR Jordan Norwood was released.
CB Joselio Hanson is eligible to come off the suspended list and
likely will take his roster spot.