That was quite a journey the Eagles undertook Sunday night, as they battled through various miscues and breakdowns to their first victory of 2020, 25-20, over San Francisco at Levi’s Stadium.
The fourth-quarter sequence that led to Travis Fulgham’s go-ahead touchdown pretty much summed up the evening. The Eagles got the ball at the San Francisco 42, after Cre’Von LeBlanc forced a Nick Mullens fumble and Mailk Jackson fell on the ball. Seven plays later, Fulgham scored -- on a play that started at the 49ers' 42-yard line, the same spot where the drive began.
First, Jalen Hurts ran for 4 yards on what looked like a blown-up pass play. Second down, Carson Wentz missed Greg Ward. Third down, Wentz to Miles Sanders, 2 yards. Fourth-and-4. Huge play, Wentz slant to rookie John Hightower, strong throw, strong catch, first down at the San Francisco 27.
Then Adrian Killins -- who was waived Monday, presumably to head back to the practice squad -- lost 12 yards on a reverse. Second-and-22, Wentz scrambled right with rushers chasing and zipped a pass to Boston Scott for a 17-yard gain, one of Wentz’s best throws of the season. Except, it didn’t count. There were two defensive penalties, and the Eagles elected to take one of them, since it involved an automatic first down. Instead of third-and-5 from the 22, first-and-10 from the 34. Very odd to see the offense walk backward as a defensive penalty is assessed.
Then Doug Pederson tried to do the Taysom Hill thing with Hurts again, and Hurts couldn’t field a snap that was low and to his right. Hurts fell on the ball. Second-and-18 from -- where else? -- the 49ers' 42.
But just as reporters began crafting their references to Wentz as Sisyphus, the pocket held firm and Wentz laid a beauty of a pass into the midsection of Travis Fulgham, who fought through Dontae Johnson and scored.
Not exactly a steady, solid march to the end zone. More like the path through the neighborhood of “Little Billy” in the Family Circus comics. But they got there.
Doug Pederson said safety Rudy Ford and linebacker T.J. Edwards “will miss some time” with hamstring injuries suffered against the 49ers.
Genard Avery, used mostly as a standup rusher in his 16 snaps, managed a sack and five pressures, which is pretty solid. He forced a throwaway on the next-to-last snap, with the 49ers driving.
Derek Barnett and then Josh Sweat abused seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams for sacks. Williams also was called for holding and false-started.
The Eagles felt penalties really played a role in their 23-23 tie with Cincinnati, and vowed to cut down. They did, going from 11 flags for 93 yards to three for 25 yards.
C.J. Beathard, who rallied the 49ers late in the game after Nick Mullens was benched, was the rookie starting quarterback the last time the teams met, on Oct. 29, 2017. He completed 17 of 36 passes for 167 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions that day, in a 33-10 loss. Beathard was a lot better Sunday night: 14-for-19 for 138 yards and a touchdown, albeit against a defense that was playing to keep the ball in front of it. Which the Eagles just barely did; Beathard’s last-play Hail Mary had to be swatted away from George Kittle by Darius Slay.
In terms of the Eagles' frame of mind heading into games against the Steelers and the Ravens, it’s hard to overstate how important it was to win Sunday night. “The guys were excited in the locker room, high-fiving, jumping around, hugging each other, what you would expect after a win,” Doug Pederson said Monday. “I think these guys have been obviously beaten down the last few weeks. Not only by our opponents but obviously by what they’re seeing and reading and being talked about outside of the building. You can just see the relief of just kind of getting that win.”
That 5-10 was bigger than 5-11?
One of the reasons Doug Pederson gave Monday for not having used Miles Sanders when the Eagles were trying to run some clock late in Sunday night’s game was that Corey Clement is “a little bit bigger” back than Sanders, more “capable of running between the tackles that way. He’s powerful. He’s big."
Clement is a tad more muscular, maybe, listed at 5-10, 220. But Sanders is listed at 5-11, 209. Hard to see much of a difference. Pederson might just have not wanted to address any unease over Sanders' fumble two weeks earlier against the Rams.
Sanders gained just 46 yards on 13 carries Sunday, Clement 3 yards on two carries.
Zach Ertz’ total of 9 receiving yards on four catches was his lowest yardage figure since the Pro Bowl tight end caught two passes for 8 yards in a victory over Dallas back on Nov. 19, 2017, when he had missed the previous week’s game with a hamstring injury and remained hobbled. His average of 2.25 yards per catch Sunday was the lowest of his career, not counting a game in his rookie season of 2014 in which he didn’t catch a pass.
-- EJ Smith contributed to this story.