For almost three quarters the Philadelphia Eagles managed to hide the fact that their offensive game was non-existent through special teams and their defensive touchdowns. But the San Francisco 49ers are a better team right now and after some early problems, Colin Kaepernick put together a very good game of football to lead his team from behind to win 26-21, and stop the panic and rumors surrounding the team.
It wasn’t perfect. He threw an interception in the first half, but that was better than what Nick Foles managed to produce during the entire game. Kaepernick still has problems making reads and isn’t the most accurate of slingers. But he has a big arm and his athleticism makes it possible for him to keep some plays alive and turn them into points. Maybe these are bootlegs and not everything is completely planned, but that’s part of the deal with a quarterback who is very special when running the ball.
Maybe the biggest story in the game and especially in the second half was Nick Foles having a performance which was reminiscent of his games as a rookie while the Eagles were being crushed on the dying embers of the Andy Reid era. He was only 21-of-43 with two passes intercepted, and was especially awful when looking downfield. The 49ers took away the deep passing options except for one drive that also ended in nothing, as Foles was only 0-of-10 with two interceptions when throwing 20 or more yards downfield.
Foles wasn’t the only player who wasn’t even close to average. Something bad is going over LeSean McCoy, who ran for 17 yards on 10 carries and has combined 39 yards over the last two games, only the third running back since 1990 with such a low production in consecutive games following a year in which he led the NFL in rushing. The Eagles were held to just 22 yards on 12 carries, making it very easy for the 49ers once it was clear they had given up on the run.
So how did the Eagles manage to score 21 points? Special teams, beginning with a blocked punt that ended in the end zone to put the Eagles on the board first, followed by Malcolm Jenkins returning a Kaepernick kick 51 yards for a touchdown and put the Eagles 14-10 ahead, and Darren Sproles returning a punt 82 yards later in the second quarter, giving the Eagles a 21-10 lead. They didn’t score through the final 38 minutes and 49 seconds of the game.
Kaepernick made the one big mistake and looked bad in the first half. He and Jim Harbaugh had their moments after the quarterback called for a timeout and his head coach was furious. It didn’t matter. He completed the big throws, mostly to Michael Crabtree (five catches, 43 yards) to get him out of jams and third down situations. The 49ers were 8-of-19 on third down conversions, the Eagles were 5-of-13. Kaepernick and his legs, rushing for 58 yards on 7 carries, were just as important.
Frank Gore being happy for the first time this season didn’t hurt as well. He carried the ball 24 times for 119 yards, showing that even when playing from behind, a good running game can help out a team when done correctly. The Eagles leave just two teams undefeated now, while the 49ers are back at .500, making things a little bit calmer and maybe delaying the talk about Harbaugh leaving and going to Michigan for a while.