Tag Archives: Cary Williams

It’s On Now: Eagles Push for the Playoffs Starts in Dallas

24 Nov

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Eagles back-up quarterback Mark Sanchez  will lead the team's run to the playoffs.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles back-up quarterback Mark Sanchez will lead the team’s run to the playoffs. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—With five games left in the regular season, the Eagles (8-3) have arrived at the point of their season that will determine where they will be in January.

The Birds Thanksgiving Day tilt with the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium will be their first test of their run to the playoffs. The Eagles will face the Cowboys in two of their next three games with the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks sandwiched in between.

The Birds and  Cowboys come into Thursday’s game tied for first-place in the NFC East. Dallas (8-3) is coming off a huge come-from-behind road win over the New York Giants.

LeSean McCoy scores a second quarter touchdown with in the Eagles win over the Tennessee Titans.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

LeSean McCoy scores a second quarter touchdown with in the Eagles win over the Tennessee Titans. Photo by Webster Riddick.

“We really have to go in this week focus really focused,” said running back LeSean McCoy, who gained 130 on 21 carries and one touchdown in Sunday’s win . “It’s a short week, it’s a big game, Thanksgiving is coming up and it’s a division game at that. So I think you add all those things up, it’s a must win type of game.”

After that gauntlet of tough games, the Eagles will close out the season with two road games against Washington (3-8) and the New York Giants (3-8). While those two teams aren’t necessarily setting the world on fire with their records, divisional matchups are never easy and never taken for granted.

Even though players and coaches like to tell you they are not looking beyond what’s in front of them, they also recognize that every game from this point forward will have some sort of postseason implication—whether it’s for a division title or a wildcard berth.

“Every week is a one-game season and we take it like that,” said Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. “But really the games start to count a little bit more as you get to December and the end of November. Usually they have implications on the division and playoff positioning.

“If you don’t want to look at the big picture, you still take it week by week, your preparation from a physical and mental has to be ramped up as the season gets on. As your body gets weary, you have to fool yourselves and turn it up even more.”

The Birds managed to bounce back from a horrific loss to the Green Bay Packers by coming away with an easy  43-24 win over the Tennessee Titans Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

While it wasn’t necessarily an artistic masterpiece over an overmatched team, the Eagles will take a win to stay in first place after the way they were shellacked by the Packers last week at Lambeau Field.

“It was a buzz saw situation that we ran into, but we understood that this week that we couldn’t afford to lose this one,” said Eagles cornerback Cary Williams. “It was a bounce-back game and a must-win game for us.”

The Eagles playoff hopes will depend upon how well quarterback Mark Sanchez plays down the stretch. In the win over Tennessee, Sanchez 30-of-46 passes for 307 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

In his last three games as the Eagles starting quarterback, Sanchez has eight turnovers. With the Eagles season riding on his shoulders, Sanchez has to avoid mistakes if the Birds win the division. That was something he talked about after the win over the Titans.

“If you squander too many opportunities, you might miss out on the playoffs,” Sanchez said. “For anybody to be successful, we have to take care of the football. We can’t be on the wrong page and I can’t miss the ball down the field to Zach (Ertz).”

Talk is Cheap: Eagles Defense Puts the Smackdown on Eli Manning and the Giants

13 Oct

By Chris Murray
For The Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin Gets one of his three sacks of Eli Manning in the Birds 27-0 win over the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday Night. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin Gets one of his three sacks of Eli Manning in the Birds 27-0 win over the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday Night. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The New York Giants found out in their loss to the Eagles on Sunday that it’s much easier to talk trash and sell woof tickets. No matter how times you deface another team’s logo, backing it up on the field on gameday is a whole lot harder and the only thing that really matters.

As the late great  Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas used say, “Talk is cheap, let’s the play game.”

The Eagles, especially the defense, did all the talking in a resounding 27-0 shutout victory over the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field.

Contrary to Giants defensive Jason Pierre-Paul’s contention that the Birds could easily be 0-5, the Eagles are 5-1 and tied with the Dallas Cowboys (5-1) for first place in the NFC East. New York is now 3-3.

For the first time this season, there was no need for a second-half comeback nor was there a frantic run of points by the other team to make the final score closer than the game itself. Going into the bye week, the Eagles wanted to come out and play a complete game where the outcome was never in doubt.

The Eagles defense dominated a hot Giants squad that came into the contest riding the wave of a three-game winning streak.

“That was the biggest thing we wanted to play quarter straight of clean football,” said Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. “When we got up, coming off of last week (against the St. Louis Rams) we wanted to finish the game the right way. I think all three phases did that.”

Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole collars Eli Manning. It was one of eight sacks by the Birds against the Giants. Photo by Webster Riddick

Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole collars Eli Manning. It was one of eight sacks by the Birds against the Giants. Photo by Webster Riddick

Defensively, the Eagles gave Eli Manning and the Giants offense a good old-fashioned beatdown. The Birds held the Giants to just 253 yards of total offense. They sacked Manning eight times with three coming from linebacker Connor Barwin.

The key to the sacks was the tight coverage of the Giants receivers by the Eagles secondary that disrupted Manning’s timing and forced him to hang onto the ball longer than he wanted.

“Our secondary did a tremendous job jamming their receivers, giving them different looks because the last three weeks what we’ve seen on film is Eli catching the ball and throwing it,” Barwin said. “Today, he was catching the ball and getting to his second or third read and that’s how we were able to get pressure on him.”

After completing 70 percent of his passes last week against the Atlanta Falcons, Manning was 13-of-23 for 151 yards and zero touchdowns.

“(Eagles) did a good job,” Manning said. “They got good pressure and we didn’t win many one-on-one matchups. … They just had good coverage and I held the ball a little too long and I have to do a better job on some instances of getting the ball out and getting through my progressions a little quicker.”

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams said the goal of the secondary was to come out and establish a physical presence against the Giants receivers to help throw of Manning’s timing and allow the front seven the chance to attack the quarterback.

“We were able to get some hands on those guys and disrupt the timing,” Williams said. “The front seven did a tremendous job getting in those windows, putting their hands up and pressuring them and making the pocket muddy and he wasn’t getting too many lanes to throw in and that made our jobs easier.”

With the Giants best running back Rashad Jennings out with an MCL in his knee, New York could not muster a running game against the Birds defense. The Eagles held the Giants to just 85 yards rushing.

The finest moment of the game for the Eagles defense came in the third quarter. After intercepting a Nick Foles pass deep in Eagles territory, the Giants drove the ball down to the Eagles three-yard line and decided to go for it on fourth down and came up short when Manning’s pass sailed over Victor Cruz’s head.

“Our defense goes out in the field and doesn’t give them any points and then our offense goes out on the field and has a 97-yard drive for a touchdown,” said head coach Chip Kelly. “It’s something to build upon. …We’re pleased with the performance tonight.”

Meanwhile, running back LeSean McCoy found his rushing mojo, gaining a-season high 149 yards rushing on 22 carries. Foles threw touchdown a pair of first- half touchdown passes to Zach Ertz and James Casey. He was 21-of-34 for 248 yards, but also threw a pair of interceptions.

Kicker Cody Parkey added a couple of field goals to give the Eagles a 20-0 lead at halftime.

Running back Darren Sproles scored on a 15-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He left the game with a left knee injury later in the period. The severity of the injury is yet to be determined. Cruz left the game with a torn patella on the Giants failed fourth and goal play in third quarter.

Cary Williams rips Chip Kelly’s Practice Methods, says Team is Burnt Out Before Games

22 Sep

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson speeds past Eagles cornerback Cary Williams for a 81-yard touchdown pass. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson speeds past Eagles cornerback Cary Williams for a 81-yard touchdown pass. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—For the first three games of the season, the Eagles have gutted out wins by overcoming slow starts and coming from behind to win.

In Sunday’s 37-34 win over Washington at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles overcame a 10-point deficit and withstood a late Washington rally that included a few fights and some trash talk from former Birds wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

But not all is happy in the Eagles 3-0 paradise—at least for one player.

While everyone in the Eagles locker room celebrated a hard-fought victory over a division rival, the way the Birds have won does not sit well with cornerback Cary Williams. He said the team’s slow starts are because they come into the game already tired because practice is too exhausting during the week.

“We got to do a better job of taking care of our players during the week,” Williams said while talking to reporters at his locker. “We gotta do a better job of making sure everybody is ready on Sunday and people should be popping out of their skin on Sunday.”

Throughout his tenure as the Eagles head coach, Chip Kelly has been preaching about taking a more scientific approach in terms of conditioning, players getting proper rest, diet, and special sports drinks to go along with practicing at a fast-pace. Williams is definitely not a big fan and said it’s affecting the team on the field.

“Something has to change, something must be done and I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’m just man enough to stand before you and let you know we gotta fight during the week and then we gotta fight on Sunday. It’s not fair it’s difficult to do that in this league because everybody has talent,” Williams said.

“If you’re not physically ready for a game, things get tough for you, especially in the defensive back field. We gotta learn to save our legs, man. We gotta learn to get the recovery in. We gotta learn to do a lot of things. Right now, we’re not getting it.”

Even though the Eagles managed to pull the game out, Williams said the fatigue got worse in the second half, which may explain why he and safety Nate Allen got burned on an 81-yard touchdown pass from Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to Jackson late in the third quarter.

“It got worse because you go into the games with no legs, how do you expect to finish with no legs?” Williams said. “It is what it is, man. We put up too many reps, man. You can’t continue to run guys in into the ground and expect us to be ready on Sunday.”

During the game itself, Washington rolled up 511 yards of total offense-including 427 yards passing.
While the games have been thrilling and entertaining for the fans, Williams said the Eagles can’t keep winning at the rate they’re going and it’s taking a toll on him physically.

“I’m burnt out, burnt out,” Williams said. “I’m not the only guy that feels burnt out. I’m just man enough to stand up for the players and just say that we’re burnt out. It’s exhaustion from practices. We didn’t get a day off this week, your body’s tired. You break down eventually … It shows our resilience. It shows our toughness. …You can’t continue to run your team into the ground and expect great results.”

Williams said his teammates are feeling the same way and hinted that the players who were saying they were fine with Kelly’s practice methods last season weren’t being honest.

“You gotta be politically correct all the time,” Williams said. “Take those words with a grain of salt.”

By the time Williams was finished talking with the media, most of the Eagles players had cleared the locker room. Eagles tight end James Casey said he didn’t have any problems with Kelly’s practice methods.

“That’s a person-to-person kind of case,” Casey said. “We work really hard on our offense and on our team. (Kelly) prides himself on the sports science kind of stuff and also taking care of our bodies. We’re 3-0, something’s working right.”

Casey said outside of a few nicks and bruises that he was feeling okay after today’s game.

“We do a lot during the week, but everyone’s fine and we’re winning a football games,” Casey said.

Williams said he was not fine—not before the game, during the game nor after the game.

“We play a game before the game,” he said. “My legs hurt. My legs were done in the fourth quarter, my legs were done in the third quarter. My legs were done before the game.”

It will be interesting to hear Kelly’s reaction to Wiliams’ comments during his day-after game press conference.

Eagles Fall To Saints on Last-Second Field Goal

5 Jan
Cary Williams and his teammates are stunned after heartbreaking loss to the Saints. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Cary Williams and his teammates are stunned after heartbreaking loss to the Saints. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

New Orleans Saints kicker Shayne Graham kicks the game-winning field goal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

New Orleans Saints kicker Shayne Graham kicks the game-winning field goal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The worst thing about facing a team with a playoff losing streak is that you hope it doesn’t end when that team plays your squad.

The New Orleans Saints came into Saturday’s NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field against the Eagles having never won a playoff game as the visiting team.

The Saints road playoff woes came to an abrupt halt in their last-second 26-24 win over a stunned Eagles squad in front of 69,144 fans who were hoping their team would make a deep run into the postseason.

“I just think that everybody is disappointed that we’re not moving forward,” said head coach Chip Kelly.

In a game in which the lead changed hands five times, Shayne Graham’s 32-yard field goal with time running out ended what was a surprisingly good season for the Eagles. New Orleans will take on the Seattle Seahawks in a divisional playoff matchup next week.

The loss was especially painful to an Eagles team that felt they were a better team than New Orleans.  At the end of the day, the Birds also know that they have themselves to blame.

“Even when they were up 20-7, I felt like we were going to win the game the whole time,” said left tackle Jason Peters.  “We just didn’t pull it out. I felt like we were the better team. We were moving the ball on their defense. We just stalled out on a couple of third and shorts and we had to clear them out.”

After the Eagles had taken a 24-23 lead on a three-yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles to tight end Zach Ertz with 4:58 left, the Saints got a 39-yard kickoff return from Darren Sproles, who appeared to be headed for a touchdown if not for an illegal horse-collar tackle by cornerback Cary Williams.

While Williams tackle kept Sproles from scoring, the Eagles were penalized 15-yards which moved the ball to the Eagles 48. He said it was the only thing he could do to keep Sproles from scoring.

“I did whatever I could to get the guy down. I’m the safety valve,” Williams said. “(Sproles) broke outside the contain.  It was just me and him out there. I made the best decision I possibly could. My thoughts were I was just trying to get him down. It didn’t matter whether it was a horse collar or whatever. I didn’t want him to score to at least give our defense the opportunity to stop them.”

The Saints forced the Eagles to take their final two timeouts while moving the ball down to the Birds 14 and running down the clock to three second to set up Graham’s field goal.

“It sucks because there was nothing we could do, but watch,” said Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, who gained 77 yards on 21 carries. “They killed us slowly. It was a terrible feeling.”

In what was a close game, the Eagles had their issues on both sides of the football. The offense, which averaged over 400 yards during the regular season, was sluggish and inconsistent in the first half and much of the third quarter.

“We just weren’t executing,” said Foles, who complete 23-of-33 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. “I was missing throws and the Saints was doing a great job. We just weren’t executing as an offense.”

After getting a pair of Drew Brees interceptions in the first half, the Eagles offense couldn’t take advantage. Oddly enough, the Eagles had a 7-6 lead at the half thanks to a 10-yard touchdown pass from Foles to wide receiver Riley Cooper.

But the Eagles also missed a 48-yard field goal and the offense had hard time getting out of its own way.

Early in the second quarter, the Birds drove down to the Saints 15. But lost huge chunks of yardage on a botched tight end screen that cost them eight yards and a sack on Foles that cost them another 11 yards. Two plays later, Henery missed that 48-yard field goal.

“We need to come away with seven instead of three to begin with and we ended up kicking a field goal,” Kelly said. “I think they did a better job of executing in those situations and their red zone defense was better than our offense.”

The Saints surged to a 20-7 third quarter lead by scoring a pair of touchdowns—a2 4-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Lance Moore and a four-yard run by running back Mark Ingram.

New Orleans was able to move out in front because of its running game which kept the Eagles defense on its heels. The Saints rushed for 185 yards on the ground with 97 coming from Ingram.

“That was the story of the game,” said Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin. “We have been keeping teams under 100 yards all season long. This was the wrong game to give up a good rusher. It was way too much and it showed on that last drive.”

The Eagles recovered from their offensive funk late in the third quarter and scored 10 straight points to cut the lead to 20-17.  The Saints would add a field goal, but the Eagles last drive to put them ahead.

The frustrating part for the Eagles offense things didn’t really get things moving until late in the game.

“It was very frustrating, we had lot of opportunities that the defense put in our favor,” said Eagles center Jason Kelce. “We just didn’t get it done offensively. It took a long time to get it going.”

NFC Wild Card Playoff: Can the Eagles Stop Drew Brees and the Powerful Saints Offense?

31 Dec

 

SaintsversusEagles

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

The Eagles have to figure out a way to stop Drew Brees and the Saints offense in Saturday's NFC Wildcard Playoff game. Photo by Neworleanssaints.com.

The Eagles have to figure out a way to stop Drew Brees and the Saints offense in Saturday’s NFC Wildcard Playoff game. Photo by Neworleanssaints.com.

PHILADELPHIA—After beating the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East and surviving the rigors of an elimination game, the Eagles open their playoff run at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday night against Drew Brees and the potent New Orleans Saints offense.

While Eagles fans can take comfort in the fact that the Saints have never won a playoff game on the road, were 3-5 on the road in the regular season and that dome teams are 3-25 in road playoff games when the temperature dips below 35 degrees, the Birds players and coaches can’t.

The Eagles are expecting the Saints come out to come out on all cylinders and then some.

“They’re a good football and like any good team, they don’t let those outside factors get to them,” said Eagles inside linebacker Mychal Kendrick.  “They’re going to come in here, they’re going to try and play a really good game no matter what the situation is and that’s just what it is.”

On the defensive side of the football, the Eagles will be facing the league’s No. 2 passing offense, led by Brees and a host of playmakers including tight end Jimmy Graham, who has 16 touchdown passes.

“This offense is so efficient and it is run on Drew Brees and his decision-making and quick release,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis. “He really makes you defend the field both horizontally and vertically because all five of his eligible receivers are up and active. …they stretch you horizontally and vertically.”

For an Eagles secondary that’s had to go up against some of the league’s best receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant, it’s another monumental challenge. Eagles cornerback Cary Williams said he nor the Eagles secondary is fazed by the caliber of talent lined up against him.

“I’m going to play my game, regardless,” Williams said. “I could care less what Drew Brees does with his release. I’m going to be in the guy’s (receiver’s) face, I’m going to disrupt the timing and I’m going to try my best to play 60 minutes as tough as I possibly can.”

What makes this Saints team a difficult challenge for the Eagles is their array of weapons from Graham to wide receiver Marques Colston or even speedy running back Darren Sproles, who caught 71 passes coming out of the backfield during the regular season.

So how do you cover those guys, especially when you have a quarterback like Brees who gets the ball out to his playmakers with the blink of an eye? Do you man up one-on-one and get physical? Should you lay back and play zone?

“I think the key is to change up that type of coverage and it’s more about the quarterback than the actual coverage and what he’s looking at, what he sees and how quick he can read it,” Davis said. “He’s seen every coverage and he’s seen all kinds of different tactics and then so has Sean (Payton, Saints head coach).

“They’ve got adjustments to everything.”

The Eagles are going to have to figure out a way to disrupt Brees timing in the passing game even if they can’t get physically close to touching him. That means pass rushers are going to have to be like basketball shot-blockers and put their hands in the air.

“It’s definitely one of those things where you have to get after him and try to rattle him a little bit,” said Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham. “That’s one of the challenges we have every week is who’s going to get to the quarterback and how many times. I think it will definitely change the game if we can get there a couple of times.”

If there’s a weakness in the Saints offense is that they don’t run the football very well. They are averaging 91 yards per game running the football with backs like Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Sproles.

Considering what Brees can do in the passing game, the Eagles seemed to be more concerned about the Saints backs as receivers.

“That’s going to be our task at hand to handle them coming out of the backfield,” Kendrick said. “Those guys are quick, agile and they can get into small spaces.”

Eagles Hold Off Cardinals, Move into a First-Place Tie With Dallas

2 Dec

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz scores two touchdowns in the win over the Cardinals

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz scores two touchdowns in the win over the Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick 

PHILADELPHIA—Here’s something no one thought we would be saying at the beginning of this season: the Eagles (7-5) are a playoff contender with four games left.

The Eagles moved into a first-place tie with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East with a 24-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in front of a packed house at Lincoln Financial Field. It was the Birds fourth win in a row.

For the second straight game, the Eagles jumped out to a big lead only to give it up and then find a way to win it in the end. When you’re competing for a division title and a playoff spot, the only thing that matters is if you come away with the victory—even if you don’t play your best game.

“It’s the heart of this team and the character of these guys,” said McCoy, who gained 79 yards on 19 carries. “Each week we come out and play. I know it’s tough right now and every win is a must-win situation, but we just have to play ball.”

Nick Foles has another solid performance for the Eagles. Photo by Webster Riddick

Nick Foles has another solid performance for the Eagles. Photo by Webster Riddick

Quarterback Nick Foles had another solid performance for the Eagles. He completed 21-of-34 passes for 237 yards and three touchdown passes.  Against a tough Cardinals defense, Foles found his tight ends-Zach Ertz twice and Brent Celek once for Eagles scores. Ertz caught five passes for 68 yards. Celek caught four passes 29 yards. They were targeted 12 times.

“Just thought we had some plays in there to the tight ends, get them in base personnel and then try to take advantage of that and those guys did,” said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. “Those guys contributed and we feel like we have three that are talented and when the matchups present themselves, we can exploit it.”

The Eagles led 17-7 at halftime thanks to Foles touchdown passes to Ertz and Celek and a 32-yard field goal by Alex Henery. The Cardinals got their only score of the half on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

On the Birds first drive of the second half, they moved 80 yards in 13 plays to Foles 24-yard touchdown pass to Ertz. That gave the Eagles would looked to be a large 24-7 lead.  But that was the end of the scoring for a Birds offense that was just out of sync in the second half.

“We need to play better in the second half,” Foles said. “That’s obvious. We didn’t play well. We need to help our defense out.”

Even as the defense was sacking Palmer and forcing turnovers including two interceptions and a fumble, the offense simply stalled and could not take advantage.

“We’ve got to convert and do a better job,” Kelly said. “We’ve done in a couple of games and against that stout defensive line it’s tough to line up and run the football on them. So again, it’s something we need to continue to work on and we’ve got to get better at it.”

Meanwhile, the Cardinals, despite the Eagles defense getting five sacks and forcing three turnovers, got back in the game with a pair of touchdown passes—a 23-yard pass from Palmer to Michael Floyd late in the third quarter and a three-yard pass to tight end Jim Dray with 4:45 left in the game.

Just when it looked like the Cardinals were going to come up with a fourth-quarter comeback to possibly win or tie the game, the Eagles defense did not allow a first down on Arizona’s final possession of the game.

“I like those moments, but it’s kind of a bittersweet situation because you never want to be put in those situations,” said Eagles cornerback Cary Williams, who had one of two interceptions for the Eagles. “But at the end of the day, if you are, you want to play to the best of your ability and give it your best shot in each and every down. We handled our business and continued to get better in those scenarios.”

In fact, it was the Eagles defense that set the tone for the game when linebacker Trent Cole sacked Palmer and forced a fumble that was recovered by rookie defensive lineman Bennie Logan. That turnover led to the Eagles first score of the game.  The Birds got two sacks from Brandon Graham, two from Coles and one by defensive end Damion Square.

“They had a nice game collectively,” said defensive coordinator Billy Davis. “It’s a group effort and all of them, the D-line, the outside linebackers on the edges collectively they rush and collapse the pocket they take turns getting the sacks.”

Eagles Secondary Comes up Big in Win over Cardinals

2 Dec

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Cary Williams intercepts a Carlson Palmer pass in the Eagles 24-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Cary Williams intercepts a Carlson Palmer pass in the Eagles 24-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The Eagles secondary came into Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals knowing that they had a tough assignment going up against Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the Cards physical receiving corps.

The Birds corners and safeties figured that Cardinals receivers were going to get their fair share of catches in the game, but they were determined to not allow them to totally dominate the game.

“They were going to try to be physical with us,” said safety Nate Allen. “So we knew we had to be physical and re-route them and get our hands on them and mess up their timing on the routes and I think we did a good job of that today.”

They won some battles and they lost a few battles, but more importantly the Eagles secondary helped the Eagles to win the war in a 24-21 win over the Cardinals Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

“I believe the refs let us play today and that was a good thing,” said Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher. “When you go up against guys like Floyd and Fitzgerald and you can be a little more physical, it definitely helps out.”

It could be argued, especially by the Cardinals receivers, that there were a few penalties against the defense that weren’t called in the game. On the flip side of that, Arizona receivers did their share of pushing off, too.

“If the wide receivers are going to play us physically, we’re entitled to our space,” said Eagles cornerback Cary Williams. “If a wide receiver runs into me, I’m entitled to get my hands up in defense, if I happen to hold, it’s a part of the game. They were pushing off the whole game, in my opinion, but I like those kinds of games because you’re out there being physical. You’re the playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Not only did the Birds secondary get a pair of interceptions, but they kept Fitzgerald and company from dominating the game. None of the Cardinals receivers had more than 100 yards in receptions. Michael Floyd had five catches for 99 yards and a touchdown while Fitzgerald had five catches for 72 yards.

“I think we had a great game-plan in place,” said Williams, who had one of those two interceptions off Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. “I think (defensive coordinator Billy) Davis called a good game today.

“Some scenarios we weren’t very good in communication, but for the most part secondary-wise we played pretty good thanks to the pass rush. Without that, I don’t think it would have as dominant of a performance.”

Eagles safety Nate Allen get his first interception of the year against the Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles safety Nate Allen get his first interception of the year against the Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick.

The Eagles front-seven had five sacks and forced a fumble. They constantly put pressure on Palmer throughout the game. That made it easier for the corners to go one-on-one with the Cardinals receivers.

“Those guys stepped up and took on the challenge of playing this top receiving group and there were a lot of times when they were one-on-one today,” Davis said. “Throughout the game, I was mixing in brackets and combos and clouds over the top of them, but there were a lot of snaps where it was ‘hey get your man, you gotta hold up and they did.”

After giving up a pair of second-half touchdown passes that enable to Cardinals to overcome a 24-7 deficit, the Eagles secondary clamped down on the Arizona receivers late in the game when it mattered most.

The Cardinals started their final drive at their own 10 yard-line with 2:03 left in the game, but only got as far as their own 15. On the game’s final three plays, the Eagles defensive backs allowed no room for Cardinals receivers to get open. On fourth down, Fletcher batted away a Palmer pass to Floyd.

“Fletch made a great play on that curl route and that was huge, getting off the field like that,” said Allen, who also had an interception in the game. “When push comes to shove and it’s ‘hey make a play or keep the drive going, Fletch did a great job with that.”