Celek's slide caps Eagles' awesome 4th quarter

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Celek's slide caps Eagles' awesome 4th quarter

Didinger on Eagles win: 'It was astounding'

December 8, 2013, 6:00 pm
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The Eagles scored all 34 of their points in the final 22 minutes of the game and Brent Celek capped off the win in style with a slide through the snow. (AP)

He iced the game. Not that the game needed any more of that. Lincoln Financial Field was blanketed in snow for the entire afternoon -- from kickoff until the closing moments.

About those closing moments: Brent Celek saw to them in style. With two minutes left in the game, the Eagles had a 14-point lead on 4th-and-12 at Detroit’s 37-yard line. Considering the situation and the weather conditions, the Eagles went for it. Nick Foles dropped back and threw a tight spiral to Celek, who hauled it in for a 27-yard gain.

Celek could have walked the extra 10 yards into the end zone. He didn’t. Instead, he slid through the snow and waited for the Lions to come over and touch him. With that, he was officially down -- and the game was all but officially over.

Celek said he planned to slide before the play unfolded. If he scored and then the Eagles kicked off, he thought someone could get hurt given the sloppy, tricky footing on the field. Besides, the game was over at that point -- and who could resist celebrating by sliding through the snow? 

“It felt good. It felt real good,” Celek said after the Eagles beat the Lions, 34-20, on Sunday (see Instant Replay). “Just knowing the game was over, being able to slide, hey, that’s it. It was a good feeling.

“For us as a team, to be down like that, in these conditions, you know it’s going to be hard to come back. And then to do what we did, we just kind of went on fire there at the end.”

It was an unusual conclusion for the Eagles. They’re on a five-game winning streak now, but the four victories that came before the Detroit game involved significantly less offensive success in the fourth quarter.

Going into Sunday, the Eagles' offense hadn’t scored a fourth-quarter touchdown since Week 6.  They entered the fourth quarter against the Lions trailing by a touchdown and a two-point conversion. It looked grim.

Then the offense went wild. Over the final 21 minutes and 37 seconds, the Eagles scored on five consecutive drives. After struggling so mightily in the fourth quarter these last several weeks, they put up 28 points in the final frame against the Lions (see 10 observations).

“[Sunday] we stuck with it,” Evan Mathis said. “We stuck with what we know. We kept calling what was working. We kept trying to apply pressure and just control the game.”

That had almost everything to do with LeSean McCoy and the ground game. Early on, the Eagles tried to throw the ball. As the weather cleared, they had more success with their air attack, and Foles finished with 179 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception.

But for the most part, especially late in the game, McCoy was the key. He went into the fourth quarter with 69 rushing yards on 18 carries. That alone was a pretty good effort since planting and cutting were almost impossible in the snow.

McCoy’s fourth-quarter performance would have been remarkable on any day in any conditions. What he did on that field in all that snow was something hard to fathom. He carried the ball 11 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. In the process, McCoy finished with 217 yards on 29 carries. That broke the Eagles’ record for most rushing yards in a single game. More importantly, McCoy helped secure an incredible come-from-behind win.

The Eagles have eight victories now and five losses. They have won five straight. And they are very much in contention for the playoffs. Few people would have believed any of that possible before the season -- and it wouldn’t have been possible if not for the Eagles' dramatic fourth-quarter comeback against the Lions.

“I don’t think this group gives up,” Chip Kelly said. “They’ve got way too much invested. I think the more you have invested in something, it’s a lot more difficult to quit. It’s an extremely hard-working group. They understand that it’s a long game. You’ve just got to keep plugging away. You can’t get discouraged when you’re not successful early because, in this league, there’s a lot of times when you’re not going to be able to go out there and say ‘Hey, this is what we chose to do.’ There’s so many good players on the other teams. It’s always going to be a battle. They just know, hey, if we hang in there and just keep fighting and just keep banging away, good things are going to happen for us.”