Five reasons the Eagles beat the Raiders | Paul Domowitch
Breaking down the five biggest reasons for the Eagles' tight win against the Raiders on Monday night, few of which have anything to do with the offense.
Five reasons the Eagles won Monday night to clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs:
The Eagles came into the game with 25 takeaways, fourth most in the NFL. They added five more against the Raiders, all in the second half.
The most decisive one was Ronald Darby's interception with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, which helped set up Jake Elliott's game-winning 48-yard field goal with 22 seconds left.
Defensive end Vinny Curry's pressure on quarterback Derek Carr contributed to the interception.
Darby's pick was the second of the night for the Eagles. Patrick Robinson intercepted a pass for wide receiver Seth Roberts in the third quarter on a six-man blitz that was wasted when Jay Ajayi fumbled two plays later at the tail end of a 14-yard gain.
But the Eagles got the ball right back when Curry knocked the ball loose from Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch at the Oakland 30-yard line. The Eagles, who were just 1 for 3 in the red zone against the Raiders, settled for a 35-yard Elliott field goal that tied the game, 10-10.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins forced another pivotal Raiders fumble with 6 ½ minutes left in the fourth quarter when he stripped the ball from running back Jalen Richard in the red zone and also recovered it. That prevented a potential Oakland score.
A week after getting sliced and diced on third down by the Giants' Eli Manning, Jim Schwartz's unit did a much better job against Derek Carr and the Raiders.
Oakland converted just 3 of 13 third-down opportunities. Carr was just 5 for 10 for 29 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a sack on third down. Just one of his five completions resulted in a first down.
The interception by Patrick Robinson on a third-and-5 play late in the third quarter came on a six-man blitz. It was the Eagles' ninth interception of the season on third down, the most in the league.
The Eagles were able to get pressure on Carr on third down, particularly in the second half, when he completed just 2 of 6 third-down attempts for minus-2 yards.
Defensive end Chris Long had a sack and forced fumble on a third-and-8 play early in the fourth quarter, and also forced an incompletion on a third-and-10 on the Raiders' final possession.
Neutralizing ‘Beast Mode’
The Raiders ran the ball 33 times for 137 yards. Both were season highs against the Eagles, who had been ranked first in the league against the run (71.5 yards per game).
On Oakland's opening drive of the second half, Marshawn Lynch had a 16-yard run, and Jalen Richards added a 34-yarder that set up a Giorgio Tavecchio field goal that gave the Raiders a 10-7 lead.
But the Eagles tightened their run defense after that. The Raiders would run the ball 16 more times and gain only 32 yards. Nine of those 16 runs gained two yards or fewer.
Two runs resulted in costly fumbles – one by Lynch late in the third quarter that set up a game-tying field goal by Elliott, and the other by Richard that killed a potential Raiders scoring drive in the fourth quarter with the game tied.
Lynch finished with 95 yards on 25 carries, but 31 of those yards came on two runs.
Second-half pass defense
The Eagles struggled to get pressure on Derek Carr in the first half, and cornerback Jalen Mills got fooled on an in-and-out move by Amari Cooper early in the second quarter and gave up a far-too-easy 63-yard touchdown pass.
Carr was 8 for 12 for 118 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
But as with their run defense, the Eagles tightened up their pass defense in the second half. Defensive end Chris Long led a re-energized pass rush that benefited from Jim Schwartz's mixing in some effective blitzes, and the Eagles did an excellent job in coverage and limiting yards after the catch.
Carr completed just 7 of 17 passes for 22 yards and two interceptions in the second half. The Eagles held Cooper to two catches for three yards in the second half and shut out Michael Crabtree, who came into the game with a team-high 56 receptions and eight touchdowns.
Crabtree was targeted three times by Carr and had no catches.
The clutch kicker
Yes, Jake Elliott missed a 33-yard attempt in the second quarter. But he shook it off and made two big kicks in the second half, booting a 35-yard field goal late in the third quarter that tied the game, then drilling the 48-yard winner with 22 seconds left.
After a rocky start, the guy has been amazingly reliable since replacing injured Caleb Sturgis in Week 2.
Elliott had made 22 of his previous 24 field goals before that second-quarter miss. The rookie kick-started the Eagles' playoff drive in late September with that game-winning 61-yarder against the Giants in Week 3. Since that kick, the Eagles have lost just once.