LeSean McCoy dunks the ball over the crossbar after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter of the Eagles' 24-16 win over the Redskins on Sunday. (AP)
The last time the Eagles had won a home game before Sunday, Demetress Bell started at left tackle, Jamar Chaney at weak-side linebacker and Derek Landri at defensive tackle.
Yeah, that long ago.
It was almost 14 months ago. Some would say it felt like an eternity.
“I don’t even remember what it felt like the last time we did,” said cornerback Brandon Boykin, whose interception in the north end zone (see story) Sunday at the Linc sealed the Eagles’ 24-16 win and put the finishing touch on the drought-ending victory (see Instant Replay).
The 10-game losing streak at the Linc, the franchise’s longest home losing streak ever and the NFL’s longest-active home drought, is history.
For the first time in 413 days, dating back to last September, the Eagles savored victory before their home crowd.
“Anytime you win, it's awesome,” said Chip Kelly, the recipient of his first home victory. “I thought our crowd was fantastic today. They probably deserved it as much as anybody. There was a lot of energy in that stadium, and we needed every ounce of it.”
You may have heard, but the Eagles hadn’t won at the Linc since scoring a 19-17 win over the Giants on Sept. 30, 2012.
Back then, Boykin was a rookie with just four professional games under his belt. Now, he’s one of the team’s top playmakers. He leads the Eagles with four interceptions, two in his past two games.
Back then, guys like Jason Babin, Clay Harbor, Stanley Havili, Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were either starters or contributors for what would be the worst team in Andy Reid’s 14 seasons.
Now, the coaching staff is new, the defensive scheme is new and the Eagles are over .500 this late into the season for the first time since 2010.
“It feels good to end the streak,” rookie right tackle Lane Johnson said. “What was it, eight games?”
Um, how 'bout 10?
“Ten?” said an incredulous Johnson. “That’s pretty terrible.”
You don’t say.
Amazingly, the Eagles entered the game with a 5-1 road record, with their only road loss coming to Peyton Manning and the Broncos. They had just returned to the Linc after two straight road wins in two of the NFL’s toughest road venues, O.Co Coliseum in Oakland and historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
At home, they had treated fans to a variety of nauseating losses, starting with a 33-30 barnburner to San Diego in Week 2 followed by a 26-16 eyesore to Kansas City four days later.
Then came the offensive drought, back-to-back home division losses to Dallas and the Giants in which they failed to score an offensive touchdown in eight quarters.
Nick Foles’ one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Redskins marked the team’s first offensive touchdown at the Linc since LeSean McCoy’s 41-yard touchdown run against the Chiefs on Sept. 19.
"It's a great feeling,” said Donnie Jones, whose 70-yard punt with 3:37 to play trickled out of bounds at the 4-yard line and put the Redskins 96 yards away from tying the game (see 10 observations). “We've been really successful on the road. That was a big goal for this team is to come back and get one at home, especially going into the bye.
“I think a lot of guys feel really good about where we're at. It'll be nice to have a week off, get everybody rested and recovered, and then come back and get ready for the last five games."
Hard to believe, but the Eagles now have the league’s second-fewest home wins, behind the Jags, who are 0-5 in their home stadium. Unlike the Jags, the Eagles have fared well enough on the road to be competitive in the playoff race.
With the Cowboys (5-5) idle, the Eagles (6-5) jumped into sole possession of first place in the NFC East and headed into their bye week on a three-game win streak. After the bye, they have consecutive home games against the Cardinals (6-4), also winners of three straight, and the Lions (6-4).
“It’s good that we got that off our back,” linebacker Connor Barwin said. “And it’s really good because we have three out of our next four at home.”
It’s not something most coaches would admit, but Kelly said the home victory trumped even the winning record.
“I think our fans deserved it, the way they've kind of hung in there with us,” he said. “It was awesome to get this win at home. I think that part was a little bit more special than the fact that that puts us up one over .500.”