At best it was a season-saving win, at worst it was an encouraging preview of things to come next year. Either way it was one of the most impressive performances of the year as the Eagles dominated the Jets in a 45-19 victory.
It was the rare game this season when both the offense and defense performed at a high level. It began early in the first quarter when safety Kurt Coleman tackled Santonio Holmes, forcing the fumble. Juqua Parker recovered and ran it in for the touchdown.
The defense continued to hold strong, making up for a muffed punt return by Curtis Marsh. After the Jets got the ball back, Asante Samuel intercepted a pass dropped by Holmes.
Then Mike Vick began to work his magic. Vick bravely stayed in the pocket and took a brutal hit from Calvin Pace to deliver a 26-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek.
Vick struck again in the second quarter, scrambling for an 11-yard touchdown run, his first rushing TD of the season. The defense continued their strong showing as Mike Patterson forced a Mark Sanchez fumble.
LeSean McCoy then scored his first touchdown of the game, tying the franchise record for the most touchdowns in a season with 18. The record was previously held for over 60 years by running back Steve Van Buren who had 18 back in 1945 during a 10-game season. But there would be more to come from Shady later on.
The team got a scare after going up 28-0. The Jets forced two fumbles and scored 13 straight points to close the second half. For a brief moment it seemed like the team was on the verge of yet another epic collapse.
These fears vanished however once the second half began. LeSean McCoy scored another touchdown, breaking the franchise record. Shady capped his incredible, record-setting game with a 33-yard run in the 4th. In addition to the franchise record for total touchdowns in one season with 20, Shady also has the franchise record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 17. In all, McCoy ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns. The end result was never in doubt for the rest of the team in the second half as the defense continued to dominate.
Vick’s sore ribs didn’t seem to have an effect on him as he played one of his best games of the year. He went 15 for 22 with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. His one interception was a meaningless prayer thrown with time running out in the second quarter.
Brent Celek also came up huge with five receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown. It was the most receiving yards in a game for an Eagles tight end since Pete Rezlaff in 1965. It was also Celek’s new career high.
The Eagles defense demolished Jets QB Mark Sanchez, forcing two interceptions, a fumble and sacking him four times. Three of those sacks came from Jason Babin. Babin is now the 10th NFL player to have three or more sacks in back to back games. He also has the third most sacks in a single Eagles season with 18, right behind Clyde Simmons (19) and Reggie White (21.)
Now the question remains, does the win even matter? Mathematically it does, but barely. In order for the Eagles to make the playoffs, they must finish the season with wins against the Cowboys and Redskins, Meanwhile the division leading Cowboys must finish the season with a loss to the Birds and the Giants. The Giants need to lose to the Jets next week and then beat the Cowboys the week after.
So is the impressive victory too little too late? That remains to be seen. What’s become clear however is the fact that the team is truly something special when they play up to the level of their talents. The challenge for the team as the season winds down and they look forward to the next, is doing that consistently.