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Mathews sparks Eagles’ ground game

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PHILADELPHIA – For one half at least, the Eagles finally got their run game going on Sunday. With Ryan Mathews replacing injured DeMarco Murray, the Eagles rushed for 86 yards on 20 carries in the first half of their 24-17 win over the New York Jets.

Mathews finished with 108 yards on 25 carries after getting just four carries in the Eagles’ season-opening losses to Atlanta and Dallas.

The passing game continued to struggle, though. Quarterback Sam Bradford again was inconsistent and not in synch with his receivers, who dropped at least four passes.

Bradford completed just 14 of 28 passes for 118 yards. He did throw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Mathews and didn’t throw an interception for the first time in three games.

But he again struggled on third down, completing just 3 of 10 third-down passes for 35 yards. The Eagles were 0-for-7 on third down in the second half when they had just five first downs and failed to score.

“They were a good defense,” Bradford said. “I thought they matched up with us well today. I missed a few throws and I think we had a few drops. There were a couple of different things on a couple of different drives that set us back. But I don’t think there was anything major. I’m really proud of the way we fought to get that win and hang in there. That’s huge for us right now.”

Asked about Bradford’s performance against the Jets, coach Chip Kelly said he did a “good job.”

Said Kelly: “There are some throws Sam probably wants back. There are a couple in there that he missed. But there also were some drops that could have extended some drives for us. But we’re pleased with Sam right now.”

REPORT CARD VS. JETS

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus. Eagles averaged 4.3 yards per carry in the first half, but just 1.9 in the second half. The offensive line did give up the penetration they did in the first two games, which allowed Ryan Mathews to rush for 108 yards. Mathews had a fourth-quarter fumble that gave the Jets the ball in Eagles territory.

PASSING OFFENSE: D-plus. First the positives: Sam Bradford didn’t throw an interception for the first time this season, had pretty good protection most of the day and threw a touchdown pass to Ryan Mathews. Now the negatives: He averaged just 4.2 yards per attempt, completed just 50 percent of his passes, his receivers dropped at least three passes and Jordan Matthews was the only wideout to catch a pass.

RUN DEFENSE: A. Even without linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso and defensive end Cedric Thornton, the Eagles stuffed the Jets’ ground game, holding them to 2.9 yards per carry. Brandon Bair did an outstanding job filling in for Thornton and linebacker Jordan Hicks played like anything but a rookie.

PASS DEFENSE: B. The Eagles did a good job of keeping Brandon Marshall from running amok. They kept the ball in front of them and held QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to 4.9 yards per attempt. Marshall had 10 catches, including a TD, but averaged just 10.9 yards per catch. The Eagles had three second-half interceptions.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Darren Sproles had a huge 89-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the second quarter that gave the Eagles a 10-0 lead. Donnie Jones had a busy day, punting nine times, but averaged 48.9 yards per attempt and had a 41.2 net average. Eagles’ coverage units once again were solid.

COACHING: B-plus. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis had an excellent game plan for neutralizing Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall, mixing up man and zone coverage and using linebacker Connor Barwin to take away his favorite slant routes when he lined up in the slot.


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