After the Eagles offense faltered for most of its first four drives, Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg dialed up a ball-control game plan that balanced the play calling and had their receivers run shorter routes to offset an offensive line that wasn't giving Michael Vick much time in the pocket.
It worked splendidly in terms of producing yards, keeping Eli Manning off the field, and ultimately beating the New York Giants, 19-17, Sunday night. But it did not necessarily play into the Eagles' strengths in terms of getting into the end zone and won't likely be sustainable over the entire season.
But it worked in this case not because Reid and Mornhinweg were looking to placate their critics but because the situation called for a scheme that covered the struggles of a line going up against one of the finest defensive fronts.
"You guys are good about asking me that every week," Reid said Monday to reporters. "I'll tell you that you like to have a balance. Does that necessarily mean it's a 50-50 balance?"
The Eagles got pretty close Sunday night - 53 percent to 47 percent in favor of the pass. On their first four possessions, Mornhinweg called for 12 pass plays and eight runs. Of the eight runs, seven were handoffs that went minus-1 yards. There was also a designed draw that Vick took 12 yards.
Five of the first six rushes were designed to go left. It's no secret the Eagles have favored running right this season with left tackle Jason Peters out and his replacements King Dunlap and Demetress Bell nowhere near as dominating as run blockers.
Reid and Mornhinweg must have seen something in the Giants defense that made them believe that they could attack that flank, but nothing was working. The blame does not rest solely on the shoulders of Bell, left guard Evan Mathis or even the entire line for that matter.
LeSean McCoy made a few poor choices in the backfield, and some ancillary blockers did not execute, either. Credit has to also be given to the Giants, who penetrated the Eagles' wall with relative ease.
But each lineman had issues in the early going. Right tackle Todd Herremans had particular trouble stopping defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. (Yeah, join the club.) Bell couldn't contain the all pro, either, as well as end Osi Umenyiora.
Center Dallas Reynolds faced another tough test in his second career start. He had his difficulties again. There was a missed block on defensive tackle Linval Joseph and another on end Justin Tuck. And there was a high snap that disrupted the rhythm on a draw play to McCoy.
Right guard Danny Watkins flat-out whiffed on defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, who forced Vick to throw the ball away in the first quarter. Through more than a quarter and a half the Eagles gained just 81 yards and three first downs on 20 plays (4.1 per).
The Giants offense, meanwhile, was just as ineffective. With still no score, Reid and Mornhinweg altered the game plan when the Eagles received the ball with 6 minutes, 4 seconds left before the half.
"We got the short and intermediate game going [better] than we had earlier," Reid said. "The length of the routes were shorter than before."
Running the no-huddle offense for much of the drive, Vick threw short to McCoy, to receiver Damaris Johnson, McCoy again and then receiver Jason Avant. Five plays later, the Eagles max-protected, and Vick hit DeSean Jackson for a 19-yard touchdown.
To open the second half, the Eagles went to the ground and to the right behind Herremans, Watkins, fullback Stanley Havili and tight end Brent Celek. McCoy gained 34 and 22 yards on successive carries. The drive stalled at the 1, however, and the Eagles settled for a field goal.
The offense scored only one touchdown on four red-zone trips. The Eagles were 14th in the NFL last year inside the 20 with a 51 percent success rate. This year, they've reached the end zone just five out of 13 trips (38.5).
With an offense built for speed, this number would suggest that the Eagles are going to continue to try to score from anywhere on the field and attempt to run up the score to get ahead early.
But methodical drives worked against the Giants. The Eagles had five straight possessions with eight or more plays and gained 337 yards and 19 first downs on 51 plays (6.6 per). They ran often to the right and successfully so - 16 carries for 105 yards as opposed to 11 for 28 to the left and 4 for 21 up the middle.
They even effectively used play action in the third quarter after McCoy's initial burst. Vick got the Giants linebackers to bite and hit Celek for 27 yards. The offensive line continued to have issues, but it never got out of hand with quicker throws.
The question going forward: Can the Eagles balance camouflaging the line's deficiencies with more running and shorter routes against an offense built for a track meet?
An answer: Why not have both?