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Eagles vs 49ers: The Grades

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What it always almost comes down to is big-time players making big-time plays to win big football games.

So as the Eagles won their fifth straight game, moved to 10-4 on the season, remained a game ahead of Dallas in the NFC East, and clinched at least a wild-card spot with a 27-13 win over San Francisco, it came down to the playmakers.

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson  had his second consecutive 140-yard game, scored his 11th touchdown of the season, and caught a 59-yard pass on the Eagles final scoring drive that pushed the lead to 27-13 early in the fourth quarter.

Defensive end Trent Cole, the Eagles best defensive player all season, recorded two sacks to give him 11 ½ on the season, including one on the 49ers last offensive play of the game to seal the win.

Here’s how the rest of the team graded out in the win.

PASSING OFFENSE: This wasn’t one of Donovan McNabb’s  better performances of the season. He completed 21 of 36 passes for 306 yards, but threw two poor interceptions to go with one touchdown pass. He was also the victim of three dropped passes. He also had pretty good time to pass most of the day, and made some plays with his legs, including a nice touchdown run from seven yards out on 3rd-and-6 that made it 14-3 in the first half. McNabb did use eight different receivers and went to Jackson six times, as the second-year receiver has become almost uncoverable. Both of McNabb’s interceptions were intended for Jackson, as perhaps he is telegraphing some of his passes. Tight end Brent Celek had another good game with four catches for 73 yards.

Grade: B

RUSHING OFFENSE: Fullback Leonard Weaver continues to get more work each week. Sunday he carried a season-high 17 times, eight more than his previous high. Those carries amounted to just 52 yards. He was also stopped on what could have been a critical 4th-and-1 from the Eagles 29 in the first quarter. Rookie LeSean McCoy  got nine carries and turned them into 48 yards, an average of 5.3 yards per carry. He also scored on a tough two-yard run that gave the Eagles a two-touchdown lead early in the fourth quarter that they made hold. San Francisco’s 3-4 base defense seemed to present more problems up front for the Eagles in the run game than most defenses have. The 49ers did come into the game with the 5th ranked run defense in the league, however.

Grade: C

PASSING DEFENSE: This was classic Eagles. Going against a below average quarterback in the 49ers’ Alex Smith, the defense had a field day. They picked off three Smith passes in the first half, including his first as an Eagle by linebacker Tracy White, and the eighth of the season by Asante Samuel. The Eagles forced Smith into a 20-for-33, 177-yard effort with one touchdown and the three interceptions for a 42.3 rating. Smith looked confused in the pocket, even when he had time, as coordinator Sean McDermott had a great game plan for the one-time No. 1 pick in the draft.

Grade: A

RUSHING DEFENSE: Frank Gore (107 yards) became the first back in 24 games to go over 100 yards against the Eagles and he did it in just 16 carries, begging the question why did the 49ers allow Smith to pass twice as much as they allowed Gore to run. While Gore was impressive, the Eagles stopped him when they needed to the most. Impressive up front was defensive tackle Mike Patterson and Cole, who both had two tackles behind the line, and left end Juqua Parker, who played perhaps his most active game of the season. In case you were wondering, the Giants’ Brandon Jacobs was the last back to go over 100 against the Eagles when he did so at the Linc last year.

Grade: B-

SPECIAL TEAMS: The punt coverage was flawless, as Arnez Battle actually had minus yards on his returns. The kickoff team, which has been playing well, allowed Morgan to bring a kick back 52 yards, that’s not good. The punting team should have downed a kick at the one yardline, but Joselio Hanson was called for illegal touching, because he went out of bounds, came back and was the first player to down the ball. Dimitri Patterson was right there, too, and should have downed it, but the blame belongs to Hanson, who should have known he was out and back in again. Sav Rocca going against probably the best punter in the NFC, Andy Lee, averaged just 40.3 yards per punt, but except for one touchback, did a nice job. David Akers made two short field goals.

Grade: B

 

homepage photo: www.reuters.com