Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Game-Winning Play

How Mark Sanchez played an important role in Jordan Matthews' game-winning touchdown catch.

Jordan Matthews. (USA Today Sports)

Jordan Matthews. (USA Today Sports)

After faking the handoff to Ryan Mathews four minutes into overtime Sunday night, Sam Bradford looked at his first read. Josh Huff wasn’t open down the right sideline, so Bradford continued his right-to-left progression and located Jordan Matthews over the middle of the field.

Bradford then connected with Matthews, who ran 41 yards for the touchdown and win over the Cowboys. What wasn’t immediately evident, however, was the contribution of one Eagle who wasn’t even on the field.

Matthews revealed yesterday after practice which teammate that was: Mark Sanchez. That morning, Matthews watched film with the Eagles’ backup quarterback and picked up pointers on how to run his route.

“The one thing I want you thinking when we run this play is patience,” Sanchez said, according to Matthews. “Be patient. Do not rush it. Because if you rush it, you’re going to come back to the sideline [and] you’re going to be mad at yourself.

“So just the whole time we run it, be like ‘Patience, patience, patience,’ and then the second you feel him coming up over you — whether it’s underneath or over top of you — throw him through and get out and the ball should be there.”

Bradford delivered a perfect strike and hit Matthews in stride not long after the receiver’s break.

“[Sanchez] was definitely right,” Matthews said. “It’s a testament to him just getting me in the film room and us going over that.”

However, that wasn’t the first time the Eagles ran that play on Sunday night. Chip Kelly also called it in the middle of the third quarter, when Matthews picked up 28 yards the play before Mathews’ 6-yard touchdown run. The formation was the same and the Eagles were in ’11’ personnel (one running back, one tight end) both times.

When Philadelphia ran this, the play-action forced the linebackers to step up — delaying their drops into coverage — and they had their tight end come across the formation to execute a ‘sift block.’ While both outside receivers run deep posts, according to Kelly, Matthews’ (circled below) route is the key.

TD

“I run a lot of overs where I come across the defense,” Matthews said. “A lot of times in our offense with how fast we’re going, a lot of teams start undercutting those or being really aggressive and the Cowboys were one of them. So I kind of gave them that look like I’m coming across the defense and we’re rolling our whole offense that way, and then Sam rolls out and I break out to the corner.”

The route works well because Matthews often comes open on those overs he’s faking. However, he wouldn’t have reached the end zone without solid pass protection from the offensive line. Although it wasn’t a great block, Celek also got enough of Greg Hardy in their one-on-one matchup to prevent a sack.

After the ball left Bradford’s hands, the receivers took it from there.

“Jordan, with his speed, kind of beat the free safety and then as he turns upfield, the last guy left was the corner,” Kelly said. “Josh had transitioned really well because Josh had run a post route on the play; he’s really the first look on the play.

“But a lot of guys give up after the ball’s not thrown to them; then they become spectators. Those are not the type of receivers we have. They know that once the ball is not thrown to you, you can still be a viable option in terms of blocking to spring us. Josh threw a great block at the goal line, and Jordan made the free safety miss, turned the corner and got the ball in the end zone.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

“I don’t know what he saw.” Byron Maxwell on his pass interference penalties Sunday night.

Examining every touchdown and turnover from the Eagles’ fourth win of the season.

Injury updates from Tuesday’s practice, and a look at the inside linebacking group without Jordan Hicks.

“Foles is flimsy and fallible.” Updates from Nick Foles and the rest of the Eagles’ offseason departures.

T-Mac looked at Sam BradfordChip Kelly, and the gelling process after the first half of the season.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor saw a big step forward from the Eagles’ entire offense against the Cowboys, especially in the passing game.

Bradford has had his issues this year. But he needs help. He needs receivers to quit dropping passes and he needs them to start making plays. Both things happened [Sunday] and the results were fantastic.

Bradford didn’t throw any INTs. He generally made good decisions. That was probably his best game in terms of accuracy. He had good pocket presence. Even on the winning TD, he threw the ball just a moment before getting hit. There were several plays where I yelled “Throw it!” as a defender was closing in on him. Sam did that each time and it resulted in some key plays. Since I’m a team guy, I won’t take credit for that. I’ll let Sam have it.

Overlooked in the Eagles’ overtime win Sunday night was the way Dennis Kelly handled his first start at right tackle, says Les Bowen.

On the Eagles’ game-winning overtime touchdown drive Sunday night, DeMarco Murray runs of 20 and 9 yards helped put the Birds in position for the 41-yard clinching touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews.

Both run plays went to the right, where Dennis Kelly was playing right tackle for the first time since 2012. Lane Johnson’s first-ever start at left tackle, Johnson matched up mostly against Greg Hardy and got most of the attention, but Kelly, stepping in off the bench for his first start of the season at any position, played a strong game under no less daunting conditions. He even faced Hardy a few times and emerged unscathed.

COMING UP

Chip Kelly will address the media at 10:50 a.m.