Eagles hold off late rally to beat Cardinals, stay tied atop NFC East
With Nick Foles leading the way, the Philadelphia Eagles have charged into the playoff picture.
Foles threw three touchdown passes and a tough defense at the end helped the Eagles hold on for a 24-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The Eagles (7-5) won their fourth straight game to remain tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East. They’re 5-1 when Foles starts.
"Big thing for Nick is his experience," coach Chip Kelly said. "He’s getting better and better and making good decisions. We trust him because he’s a good decision-maker. You’re starting to see him grow."
Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards and three TD passes, but also had two interceptions and lost a fumble as the Cardinals (7-5) had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Foles picked up where he left off in November, when he was the NFC’s Player of the Month and tied an NFL record with seven TDs in a game. The second-year pro finished 21 of 34 for 237 yards against a defense that came in ranked eighth in the league.
Making just his 12th career start, Foles set a team record for most passes without an interception (233), breaking Michael Vick’s mark of 224 set in 2010. He also moved within one TD pass of tying Peyton Manning’s record of 20 TD passes and zero interceptions to start a season.
But Foles got away with one against Arizona. He was intercepted by Patrick Peterson at the Philadelphia 43 late in the fourth only to have the play negated by a holding penalty on Tyrann Mathieu.
"It wasn’t a smart decision. It was a mistake," Foles said. "I was happy there was a penalty. I was off-balance and threw across the middle. That’s a no-no."
Zach Ertz had two TD catches, LeSean McCoy ran for 79 yards and the Eagles continued their worst-to-first push. They were 4-12 last season in Andy Reid’s last year as coach.
The Cardinals took over at their 10 with 2:08 left. But Palmer misfired on third-and-5, and Bradley Fletcher knocked down a pass to Michael Floyd on fourth down.
"We had a chance to win it, multiple opportunities to make plays," Palmer said. "You can’t come into a place like this and play against a good team in front of a crowd like this and not win that battle."
In a game featuring two defensive coordinators going against former teams, Bill Davis’ unit outplayed Todd Bowles’ group.
The Eagles have held opponents to 21 points or fewer in eight straight games after giving up an average of 27.5 points per game the first four weeks.
Trent Cole and Brandon Graham each had two sacks for the Eagles, who put Palmer down five times.
"I have a lot of different responsibilities, getting used to that," said Cole, who along with Graham was switched from defensive end to linebacker in Davis’ 3-4 system. "Hard work pays off. Keep your head straight, work hard, stay humble, you’ll get it done."
Down 24-7 after Foles threw a 24-yard TD pass to Ertz on the first series in the third quarter, the Cardinals rallied. Palmer tossed a 23-yard TD pass to Floyd to cut it to 24-14 on the next series.
A holding penalty on Kurt Coleman negated DeSean Jackson’s 54-yard punt return for a score early in the fourth.
Palmer then threw a 3-yard TD pass to Jim Dray to get the Cardinals within a field goal at 24-21 with 4:45 left.
"We learned a lot of lessons today, what playoff atmosphere is on the road and how to overcome it, how to handle it when bad things happen," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.
Foles drove the Eagles 78 yards late in the second quarter, tossing a 1-yard TD pass to Brent Celek to make it 17-7 before halftime. A 28-yard pass interference penalty on Jerraud Powers put the ball at the 1.
Palmer connected with Larry Fitzgerald on a 43-yard TD pass to tie it at 7 midway through the second quarter.
Fitzgerald made the catch over the middle on a third-and-20 pass, two defenders collided into each other and the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver ran untouched into the end zone.
On the third play from scrimmage, Cole sacked Palmer and forced a fumble that was recovered by Bennie Logan at the Cardinals 25. Foles then tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Ertz for a 7-0 lead.
NOTES: RB Andre Ellington, Arizona’s leading rusher, didn’t play because of an injured left knee. … Cardinals are 0-8 when seeking their fifth win in row since 1977. … Eagles S Earl Wolff missed his second straight game with a knee injury. … Allen’s INT was his first since the last game of the 2011 season. … Eagles LB Najee Goode left the game with a hamstring injury.