Breaking down the Eagles’ dominant finish in Green Bay

Breaking down the Eagles’ dominant finish in Green Bay

When was the last time we saw the Eagles simply overpower an opponent the way they did the Packers in the fourth quarter on Sunday?

There are a ton of things to like about the Birds right now. Nick Foles can’t seem to make a mistake. LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are about to reach 1,000-yard milestones. The defense hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in six games. We’re 10 games into Chip Kelly’s first season as head coach, and the team has already surpassed last year’s win total. The playoffs are on everybody’s mind.

What I enjoyed most of all about the victory in Green Bay though was the dominant fashion in which they closed out the game. Following a turnover on downs, the Eagles were awarded the ball at their own 8-yard line with 9:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Packers never took possession again.

The Eagles called 16 plays total on that final drive. 12 were runs. Three were kneel-downs. The only pass attempt was on 3rd-and-7, their lone third-down conversion of the series.

Green Bay knew exactly what was coming, yet they were powerless to stop it. McCoy carried seven times for 41 yards. Bryce Brown ran twice for 11 more. Foles iced the game with a zone-read keeper for nine. Nine minutes and 32 seconds, gone, just like that.

This is the same club that’s ranked dead last in the NFL in time of possession this season. Even up to that point in the game, Philadelphia had only held the ball 16 minutes to the Packs’ 34. If their defense was tired, it was not for lack of rest.

No team strikes faster than the Eagles with an average scoring drive south of two minutes per Philly.com’s Jimmy Kempski. Some weeks, Chip has proven incapable of slowing down the pace to his own detriment. He slowed it down to a crawl on Sunday though, and his offense was still unstoppable.

He didn’t do anything special or tricky at all. It was one handoff after another, offensive linemen and tight ends pushing defenders out of holes, backs trusting their lanes, running with power and staying in bounds.

And this was without Jason Peters on the field, the All-Pro left tackle exiting the game earlier with a quad injury. This was against the NFL’s fifth-ranked run defense entering Week 10.

That is how good teams finish games. That is something we haven’t seen in Philadelphia since who knows when. It’s been years.

Afterwards, McCoy expanded on his offensive line’s performance. Per Reuben Frank for CSN:

“I think the offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage,” McCoy said. “The backs we have, you give us 1-on-1 opportunity with a linebacker, defensive end or a safety, nine times out of 10, we’re going to make them miss, and today that’s what’s happened.

“I think it’s one thing for a back to be confident to run the ball, it’s another when the guys up front want to run the ball even more than you do. It says a lot about the guys up front the way they played today.”

And left guard Evan Mathis, who is charting as the club’s best run blocker according to metrics by Pro Football Focus:

“As far as a football game goes, you don’t usually have more fun than that,” guard Evan Mathis said.

“You’re ahead, which is good, and then to go out there with nine-plus minutes on the clock and be able to run the ball effectively and be able to completely control the clock, get first downs, it’s a great feeling.

“We take a lot of pride in being able to do that. It’s comforting knowing that you’re able to do that.”

It doesn’t get much better than knowing if the game is on the line and all the offense needs is a first down to put it away, they have the ability to lean forward and take it. At its nuts and bolts, football is still and will always be about dominating up front.

Did the Eagles have the Packers defeated before they went on that march? Probably, but why let them go out shooting? Good teams quietly smother opponents and go into their victory formation.

The Eagles just took a huge step toward becoming one of those good teams.

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

Twenty-five of the Union’s 34 games in 2017 will be featured on CSN and TCN, as Jim Curtin’s club vies for a second straight playoff berth.

Twenty matches will air on TCN, while five can be seen on CSN. The nine others will be appear across 6ABC, ESPN and FOX Sports 1.

The Union’s season opener on March 5 at the Vancouver Whitecaps will broadcast on TCN and the team’s home opener on March 11 against Toronto FC will air on CSN. The next three games — March 18 at Orlando City SC, April 1 at D.C. United and April 8 vs. the Portland Timbers — will be shown on TCN.

The Union are coming off an 11-14-9 season and their second-ever trip to the MLS playoffs in which they suffered a first-round exit to Toronto FC.

For the Union’s full 2017 schedule, click here.

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews had three goals and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat rival Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday night for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Wild in less than two weeks.

Toews notched his fourth career hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:02 left to stave off a spirited rally by the Wild, who began a franchise-record eight-game homestand on Feb. 8 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Toews had a goal and two assists in that one and has 37 points in 35 career games against Minnesota.

Chicago's captain has been chewing up almost everyone else, too, with 20 points in his last 12 games. Toews' wing men Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik had the other goals, giving the Blackhawks 34 goals in their last eight games. Their first line totaled nine points.

Mikael Granlund's second power-play goal for the Wild brought them within 4-3, before Ryan Suter hit the crossbar with a shot that nearly tied it (see full recap).

Islanders open 9-game road trip with win
DETROIT -- Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.

De Haan's shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender's left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.

Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for New York.

Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.

The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, began a stretch of nine straight road games by winning for the third time in four games and improved to 8-13-4 away from home (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins take care of Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Scott Wilson also scored to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions bounce back from their only loss since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh moved three points behind East-leading Washington and is 7-1-3 since the break.

Jeff Skinner scored for the last-place Hurricanes, who have their second five-game losing streak in the past five weeks. They have been outscored 19-4 during the current slide.

Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Penguins while Cam Ward stopped 19 shots for Carolina (see full recap).