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Donnellon: Treat road games like 'business trip,' says Eagles coach Pederson

'KILL, KILL, KILL . . . " For those viewing Eagles home games via television, it is a familiar cry from the mouth of Carson Wentz. And a hint perhaps why this season has been so uneven for the Eagles.

'KILL, KILL, KILL . . . "

For those viewing Eagles home games via television, it is a familiar cry from the mouth of Carson Wentz. And a hint perhaps why this season has been so uneven for the Eagles.

At home, they are monsters, powered by a defense that, if not for a late Ryan Mathews fumble Sunday, has allowed only one touchdown and three field goals over three games. At home, they have presented a balanced offensive attack that, until Sunday at least, executed, ate clock, took calculated risks and limited mistakes.

At home, they communicate well. The Eagles averaged over 400 yards in their lopsided wins over Cleveland and Pittsburgh, rolled up 63 points, and averaged 7.5 penalties. Even Sunday, despite four turnovers, several sloppy snaps and the inconsistencies of their rookie quarterback, the Eagles put together two second-half scoring drives of more than five minutes against the league's best defense to salt away their 21-10 victory.

On the road, it's been a different story, a tale of caution as the Eagles travel to Dallas this Sunday for their first-place showdown with the Cowboys. In successive weeks following their bye, the Eagles surrendered 24 and 27 points, respectively, to Detroit and Washington, teams with suspect defenses that entered those games executing their offenses poorly, and whose game against each other Sunday made the vaudeville act at the Linc seem like Hamilton in comparison.

"We just have to learn how to handle the road," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday. "It's a business trip. There can be some distractions with family and friends that come to games, or for whatever reason. And both coaches and players have to learn to say, 'Hey, we're here for a reason and we're trying to win a football game.' "

That's fine for issues of focus. The Eagles committed 27 penalties in the first two road games after the break, a variety pack that permeated both sides of the ball. But while some traced it to concentration, others suggested communication was the root: Delay-of-game penalties amid hostile crowds in Detroit and Washington, when Wentz nearly broke a metacarpal clapping for the snap, late audibles that seemed to confuse the Eagles on both sides of the ball more than their opponents.

You don't pick up "Kill, kill, kill" on the TV audio without cooperation from the live audience. And while Pederson downplayed its impact - "The outside guys really don't need to hear the actual 'kill' " - he did concede the spoken word is "more for the inside, the interior linemen, the tight ends and running backs . . . "

Perhaps this explains why we heard Wentz's words on television Sunday more than we heard the name of Halapoulivaati Vaitai. At home, a game under his belt, communication not an issue, the rookie was closer to the player Pederson said he can be when he dropped him into Lane Johnson's spot last week.

"I just think (it was just) learning from the week before, quite honestly," said the Eagles coach. "He really detailed his work during the week. He practiced extremely well. He used his hands better. He was able to kind of calm the storm, so to speak, and played a fine football game. He played the type of game that we saw (in) him and (that) he's very capable of doing, and now it's something that he can continue to build on."

Dallas is a tough place to build these days, though. The Cowboys won five straight before Sunday's bye. Their rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott, has not swooned back to earth the way Wentz has, in part because the offensive line in front of him is intact and experienced, and because Ezekiel Elliott is a better weapon than any Wentz has to work with.

And if he thinks it was loud in Detroit and D.C. . . .

Then again, the Cowboys' most impressive victory was in Green Bay two Sundays ago. The Eagles beat two teams in the Super Bowl conversation, and did so handily.

And we all know what can happen to a team that has its bye after a big high.

If anyone forgets, just ask the Vikings.

In their way is their own relative youth, starting with the quarterback, and the inexperience that entails. Claps and arm motions instead of words. A million little things that tend to speed up games, causing miscues and misfirings.

Three of the Eagles' next four games are on the road, including Green Bay. Pederson was asked whether his team's mercurial nature thus far could be traced to its relative youth.

"I think some of it has to do with that," he said.

"It takes a full 60-minute game of concentration; focus on your job, do your assignments and come away with these wins. Learn how to finish at the end. It's something that our guys have got to learn to do as the season goes on."