Just when the Oakland Raiders start to convince people that they’re going to be a tough out every week, the Philadelphia Eagles come across the country and stomp them 49-20. The story of the game was Eagles quarterback Nick Foles who tied an NFL record with seven touchdowns, a mark already achieved by Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning back in Week 1. While Foles was superb, he was certainly helped by a number of blunders in the Oakland secondary as cornerbacks fell to the ground numerous times while simply blowing coverages on other plays. The Eagles defense deserves credit for as well for their relentless pass rush that had Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor extremely uncomfortable in the pocket.
With the win, the Eagles kept pace with first place Dallas Cowboys as the NFC East is as wide open as any division here in Week 9. For the Raiders, the opposite is true, as they’ve certainly exceeded expectations to this point, but being saddled in the strong AFC West has them destined for the basement, even with three wins under their belt.
Here’s a look at the top performances from Sunday.
Philadelphia – Three Performances of Note
The raw numbers resemble “Madden-on-rookie” status, as Foles completed 22-of-28 for 406 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Perhaps most impressive about Foles’ effort was his ability to effectively use pump fakes to look off defenders. He started early with the quick pump before throwing a strike to wide receiver Jeff Maehl on the dig route for 19 yards at the 7:51 mark of the first. After finding tight end Brent Celek for his first touchdown, he hooked up with WR Riley Cooper for his next two. Both were well-thrown deep balls, first a 17-yard strike on a go route against rookie CB D.J. Hayden then a 63-yard deep post that was made a bit easier by Hayden’s falling to the ground at the top of the route. Foles capped his four-TD first half by finding rookie TE Zach Ertz in the back of the end zone after scrambling to his right.
The second half started out with the Eagles simply out-scheming the Raiders as they overloaded one side with four receivers and a failed adjustment from the defense led to an easy 25-yard score on the swing pass to running back LeSean McCoy. The Raiders fell down on the job again for Foles’ sixth touchdown, this time it was CB Mike Jenkins hitting the turf, but despite the wide open throw, Foles once again did a nice job of holding free safety Charles Woodson in the middle of the field to provide enough room for the 46-yard strike. Finally, Foles found Cooper once again for a 5-yard score on a crossing route for his seventh touchdown and the NFL record.
So what does it all mean for the Eagles? It looks like Foles is here to stay as their starting quarterback, but Eagles fans have to wonder if they’re getting the +5.2 overall Foles that showed up Sunday or the -7.8 Foles that showed his face against the Dallas Cowboys back in Week 7?
Killer C’s – Cole, Cox, and Curry
The Eagles’ Law Offices of pass rush, outside linebacker Trent Cole, defensive end Fletcher Cox and DE Vinny Curry led the way for Philadelphia’s pass rush that pressured Pryor on 50 percent of his dropbacks. Cox did the most damage with six hurries and a +3.2 pass rush grade as he had his way with guards Mike Brisiel and Lucas Nix. He’s now grading at +18.7 on the season, second among 3-4 defensive ends. Curry (+2.6 pass rush) did most of his damage against the guards as well as he notched a sack and five hurries on his 25 rushes, while Cole (+3.2 pass rush) also had a chance to kick inside with three of his seven pressures coming against Nix. The three players accounted for nearly two-thirds of the Eagles pressures Sunday, and it’s a trio that could have a huge impact on a pending NFC East run.
Strong Up Front
Of course, Foles’ big day likely doesn’t happen without good protection from the Eagles offensive line and that’s exactly what he got. Only RG Todd Herremans grade negatively as he surrendered four of the Eagles six pressures up front. The rest of the line was stout, perhaps most notable being first round right tackle Lane Johnson who posted a career-high +3.2 overall grade. He graded at +2.3 in the pass game as he notched the first pressure-free game of his young career. In the running game, it’s no surprise to see LG Evan Mathis lead the way with a +2.6 grade. He continues his run blocking dominance as he moves to +23.1 on the season, far and away best among all offensive linemen.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
And now to the other side of the action where the Raiders’ defense obviously surrendered Foles’ 406 yards and seven touchdowns. Free safety Brandian Ross graded at -5.0 in coverage while being charged with 10 receptions on 11 targets for 151 yards and four touchdowns. Some of the targets were perhaps a bit harsh, but that’s all considered in the grading. He got lost in the end zone a couple times, first failing to track Celek on his drag route and then coming in late on Ertz’s out route. He lost track of Cooper as well on the seventh touchdown of the game. Beyond Ross, we’ve already touched on Hayden’s day that saw him surrender three receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns on his way to a -2.6 coverage grade. Jenkins got into the action as well at -1.3, mostly due to his tumble on Jackson’s 46-yard touchdown. It was not a good day to be in Oakland’s secondary.
Nix’s Struggles Continue
The Raiders may not have any other options behind Nix, but he’s pushing toward some historically bad play. His -7.5 grade on the day pushes him to -32.5 overall for the season, a grade that would represent the worst ever given to a guard in since PFF’s inception in 2008. He was simply unable to slow down the Eagles’ interior rushers surrendering a season-high nine pressures (all hurries). As always, the grades trump the stats and his –6.0 pass block grade is representative of the speed at which he surrendered those pressures. His two missed blocks at the end of the first half were as bad as it gets as he allowed Cole into the backfield in 1.7 seconds with 0:54 to go in the second quarter and it wasn’t much better when Cox beat him in 1.8 seconds at the 0:14 mark. Oakland has survived a number of injuries to their offensive line, but it’s Nix’s development that might go the longest way to ensuring their improvement up front.
Lone Bright Spot
One of only two Oakland defenders to grade in the green, LB Kevin Burnett finished at +2.1 to continue his strong play in his first year with the Raiders. He once again showed well against the run, grading at +1.3 for the game to move to +9.6 on the season, a grade that quietly leads all 4-3 outside linebackers. The big step for Burnett was in coverage where he graded at +1.2 thanks to his three stops in the passing game. He made two great reads on screens, first at the 15:00 mark of the second quarter and when he tackled Celek for a short gain and then with 8:49 to go in the third quarter when he knifed into the backfield to tackle McCoy for a 7-yard loss. Burnett’s play was one of the lone bright spots in a difficult afternoon in Oakland.
– The Eagles defense had 23 players play at least 16 snaps in the game
– Raiders rookie RT Menelik Watson made his debut grading at +2.3 on 57 snaps.
– Foles was 5-for-6 for 200 yards and four touchdowns on passes thrown beyond 20 yards.
PFF Game Ball
Numbers aside, Nick Foles was in complete control of the game and he’s an easy choice for this week’s game ball.
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