Sproles, Eagles come up big in 30-27 comeback win vs. Colts

New opponent, same result. Well, sort of.

A week after scoring 34 unanswered points in their season-opening victory, the Eagles struggled to muster momentum in the first half of Monday night’s prime time game against the Indianapolis Colts, only to rebound for their second consecutive comeback win of the year, a 30-27 defeat of Andrew Luck and the defending AFC South champions.

A 36-yard field goal by Cody Parkey as time expired gave the Eagles the win, but quite a bit unfolded before the seconds ticked down at Lucas Oil Stadium, including an explosive night for veteran running back Darren Sproles.

While starter LeSean McCoy (20 carries, 79 yards) was held in check for much of Monday night’s battle, Sproles was a human highlight reel out of the Eagles backfield, finishing the game with 178 yards from scrimmage. Responsible for breaking Philadelphia’s scoreless streak in Week One, the former New Orleans Saints backup scored on a 19-yard run in the third quarter and later set up the Eagles’ go-ahead touchdown in the fourth.

A second-quarter touchdown pass from Luck to tight end Jack Doyle propelled Indianapolis to a 17-6 lead, which the Colts extended early in the third thanks to a field goal by Adam Vinatieri.

Quarterback Nick Foles, playing behind an offensive line that was without two injured starters in Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre, led the Eagles to two scoring drives in the fourth quarter, the first of which ended in a game-tying TD pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Foles wasn’t perfect on the night as one of his 37 throws, an earlier shot at Maclin, was intercepted by the Colts’ Greg Toler, but he finished with 331 yards through the air and helped command the Eagles’ comeback.

Credit for the win also goes to the Eagles defense, which had its fair share of struggles against Indianapolis but came through with a three-and-out stand in the waning minutes of the game. Despite its promising showing against the run last week, the Eagles “D” surrendered a combined 149 rushing yards to Colts backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson. That being said, the defense forced a fourth-quarter turnover when safety Malcolm Jenkins intercepted a pass by Luck and was also responsible for preventing the Colts from scoring on their last drive.

The Eagles, who became the first team in NFL history to twice trail its opponent by more than 14 points in the second half and start the season 2-0, will next return home for a divisional matchup against the Washington Redskins (1-1) Sept. 21.

Other game notes: McCoy, despite averaging less than four yards per carry against Indianapolis, scored the Eagles’ first touchdown on a one-yard run in the third quarter; Philadelphia was forced to rely on backups Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho at inside linebacker after starter Mychal Kendricks suffered a second-half calf injury; Parkey, who was acquired from the Colts via trade during the preseason, unofficially converted his game-winning kick twice since his first attempt was negated by a last-second Indianapolis timeout; defensive end Fletcher Cox was part of an Eagles turnover for a second straight week after forcing a Bradshaw fumble.

3 questions for Eagles vs. Colts

It was a tale of two halves for the Eagles on Opening Day last week, and fortunately for Philadelphia, the better side of the team’s performance came when it most needed it.

The last remaining unbeaten team in the NFC East after nearly two weeks of regular season play, the Eagles figure to face a tougher test Monday night when they travel to Indianapolis for a prime time meeting with Andrew Luck and the Colts.

Here are three questions to consider as the Eagles play their first road game of the year against the Colts (0-1):

Can the Eagles’ battered offensive line protect Nick Foles?

Foles finished the Eagles’ season-opening rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars with 322 yards and two touchdowns, but he also had three turnovers behind a banged-up offensive line. Now missing injured starters Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre at left guard and right tackle, respectively, Philadelphia will be forced to rely on their depth in the trenches. Among the replacement starters could be former Texans Pro Bowl selection Wade Smith, who was signed this week to bolster the Eagles’ unit.

Will Philadelphia’s secondary fix its early issues from Week One?

As a whole, the Eagles defense put forth a promising performance against the Jaguars last week, shutting out Jacksonville in the second half. Early on, however, there were some coverage issues that led to big touchdown passes by Chad Henne. Against the Colts, Philadelphia will be up against perhaps the most intelligent young quarterback in the game in Luck, so consistency could be key. No. 3 cornerback Brandon Boykin could play a big role in Indianapolis thanks to the Colts’ noteworthy trio of Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks at wide receiver.

Can the Eagles repeat their dominating performance up front?

One area in which the Eagles were virtually flawless in Week One was their run defense from the front seven. Another sound performance from the likes of Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton and the linebacker corps of Connor Barwin, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham could prove invaluable to the Eagles’ defense against the Colts, who have struggled to get consistent production from running back Trent Richardson.

Eagles shuffle OL, LB corps after injuries

Injuries to starting offensive linemen Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre prompted several roster moves by the Eagles on Tuesday.

Philadelphia also shuffled its linebacker corps this week, announcing that Barbre and inside linebacker Najee Goode have been placed on Injured Reserve (IR), while Mathis has been placed on IR/Designated for Return.

In addition to free agent offensive guard Wade Smith, the Eagles signed Emmanuel Acho and Kevin Graf from their practice squad in order to fill the open spots on their active roster.

The team’s starting left guard since 2011, Mathis was sidelined for the second half of the Eagles’ regular season opener after suffering an MCL sprain. Reports from The Philadelphia Inquirer indicated Mathis could miss at least four weeks, and on IR/Designated for Return, the Pro Bowler can either return after eight weeks or remain inactive for the entire season.

Barbre reportedly suffered a high ankle sprain in his first start in place of the suspended Lane Johnson. Initial reports suggested the former Seattle Seahawks backup could be out for anywhere between four to six weeks, but on IR, Barbre will be unavailable for the remainder of the year along with Goode, who reportedly sustained a torn pectoral muscle in Week 1.

Acho and Smith figure to be the immediate replacements for Goode and Mathis, respectively.

Acho, who has been on and off the Eagles practice squad since 2013, appeared in six games for Philadelphia last year and is likely to see time as the No. 3 ILB behind DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks.

Smith, a victim of final roster cuts in Seattle this year, has started 98 games in his career. After stints with the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs, he spent 2010-2013 with Houston, earning one Pro Bowl berth during that time. Per the Eagles website, Smith “started 64 consecutive games at left guard for the Texans during his four-year stint with the team and has experience at center, guard and tackle.”

Graf, originally an undrafted signing of the Eagles out of USC, is likely to serve as emergency depth behind the team’s remaining tackles opposite Jason Peters: Andrew Gardner and Dennis Kelly.

In related news, the Eagles announced three additional practice squad moves: inside linebacker Colton Underwood has been released, while linebacker Brandon Hepburn and offensive lineman Tyler Hoover have been signed. The team’s scout team, which has one opening, now consists of Hepburn, who spent 2013 on the Detroit Lions practice squad; Hoover, an undrafted signing of the Indianapolis Colts this year; quarterback G.J. Kinne, running back Matthew Tucker, wide receivers Quron Pratt and Will Murphy, offensive guard Josh Andrews, nose tackle Wade Keliikipi and safety Ed Reynolds.

Reports: Mathis, Barbre could miss at least four weeks

The Eagles might have escaped their home opener with a win, but they were unable to avoid the injury bug in Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

According to reports from Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Adam Caplan of ESPN, both offensive guard Evan Mathis and offensive tackle Allen Barbre could miss at least four weeks after suffering injuries Sunday.

A 2013 Pro Bowl selection, Mathis didn’t return to the Eagles’ first game after being helped off the field in the second quarter and, per McLane, sustained what is likely a “Grade 3″ MCL sprain. The team’s starting left guard since signing with Philadelphia in 2011, he reportedly could be sidelined for anywhere from four to eight weeks. Such an injury might also make Mathis a candidate to land on Injured Reserve/Designated to Return, on which he wouldn’t count against the Eagles roster for eight weeks.

Barbre, who signed a contract extension in June and was slated to replace Lane Johnson as the right tackle during the latter’s four-game suspension, is reportedly hoping to return within four to six weeks after sustaining a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s opener.

With Johnson suspended and backup guard Matt Tobin nursing a high ankle sprain of his own, the Eagles are left with David Molk, Dennis Kelly and Andrew Gardner as offensive line depth behind starters Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans. Gardner and Kelly have experience at tackle, while Molk would seem to be the most logical replacement at guard after sliding from center to Mathis’ spot on Sunday.

In related news, the Eagles announced this week that wide receiver Arrelious Benn has been released from Injured Reserve (IR) with an injury settlement. The former Buccaneers wideout was placed on IR as part of Philadelphia’s final roster cut-down after suffering a reported back injury in the team’s preseason finale.

Resilient Eagles score 34 unanswered points to top Jags

At first, it wasn’t pretty, but the Eagles came out of their regular season opener with perhaps as much momentum as possible.

Nothing seemed to go right for Philadelphia at the start of its Week 1 showdown with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but 34 unanswered points and production from both sides of the ball in the second half propelled the team to its first victory of the 2014 season, a 34-17 decision.

Rallying from a 17-0 deficit and a three-turnover first half, quarterback Nick Foles threw two touchdowns to calm concerns about Coach Chip Kelly’s offense, while the defense held its own after a similarly slow start, pitching a second-half shutout and scoring on a turnover in the fourth quarter.

Foles appeared out of rhythm early on, fumbling twice after delayed decisions in the pocket and throwing an interception in the red-zone when the Eagles were down three scores. However, whatever Kelly said to the team at halftime affected Foles, too, as the third-year signal-caller finished with 322 passing yards–68 of which came on a TD pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for the go-ahead score.

Running back LeSean McCoy didn’t break off for many long runs but still accounted for 115 yards from scrimmage, while his new backup, Darren Sproles, stole the spotlight with a 49-yard TD run on fourth down in the third quarter to break Philadelphia’s scoreless streak. No. 2 tight end Zach Ertz was another weapon who helped Foles’ turnaround, hauling in a 25-yard TD and finishing with 77 yards.

Foles’ early turnovers put the Eagles defense in a bad position, but there was an evident improvement from the unit in the final two quarters. After surrendering two TD passes from Chad Henne to rookie receiver Allen Hurns, the “D” shored up by limiting running back Toby Gerhart to 42 yards on 18 carries and returning a Henne fumble 17 yards for a touchdown in the waning minutes of the game. Outside linebacker Trent Cole forced the turnover on a sack, while defensive end Fletcher Cox recovered the fumble.

Rookie kicker Cody Parkey, in his first game as the replacement of Alex Henery, converted both of his two field goal attempts on the day, nailing a 51-yard try to tie the game at 17 in the fourth.

The Eagles (1-0) will take on the Indianapolis Colts next Monday night in Week 2.

Other game notes: Defensive tackle Bennie Logan probably deserves the Most Hyped Player Award after aggressively riling up his teammates throughout the game; punter Donnie Jones pinned the Jaguars at their own one-yard line on one drive after his kick was downed by cornerback Brandon Boykin; rookie WR Jordan Matthews debuted as the No. 3 target with two catches for 37 yards; starting safety Nate Allen was one of three Eagles who sacked Henne.

Opening day: 3 questions for Eagles vs. Jaguars

It’s here.

Football is officially back for the Eagles, who will welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 1 p.m. regular season opener at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, and expectations are lofty as anticipated.

Philadelphia is the consensus favorite to defend its 2013 NFC East title, and while Jacksonville still seems well entrenched in a rebuilding phase after a 1-3 preseason, fans should know the NFL is far from predictable (“any given Sunday,” right?).

Here are three questions to consider as the Eagles open their 2014 season against the Jaguars:

How much will the Eagles use their new offensive weapons?

Returning starters like quarterback Nick Foles, running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver Riley Cooper will undoubtedly play a big role in the performance of the offense, but head coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will also have the chance to debut new faces like Darren Sproles and Jordan Matthews.

Will the defense display an evident improvement?

For a unit that was almost entirely rebuilt in 2013, the Eagles defense had its fair share of promising moments last season. The team did make efforts to upgrade its pass rush (see: Marcus Smith) and secondary (see: Malcolm Jenkins, Nolan Carroll), however, and Sunday’s matchup with Jacksonville will provide the first official look at Philadelphia’s “D.”

Will Chip Kelly’s fast-paced tempo wear down the Jaguars?

One of the headlines of Kelly’s first season with the Eagles was the head coach’s innovative strategy to run as many plays as possible in the shortest amount of time, an approach often seen when Kelly coached the University of Oregon Ducks. With one year of film on Kelly’s offense, the question is: are the Jaguars prepared to slow down the Eagles, or do the Eagles already have more up their sleeve to down Jacksonville?