How Eagles aggressive 2nd half gives them advantage this week


Just a few minutes after the Eagles wrapped up their 35-13 win over the Steelers on Sunday afternoon, vice president of player performance Ted Rath stomped through the home locker room at the Linc like a madman shouting “1-0 starts now!”

There’s not much time to savor the win.

The Eagles play the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football in just a few days, which is exactly why it was so important to finally stay aggressive and finish off an opponent in dominant fashion.

“We knew a lot of people look at us as not a very good second half team, so we just kind of wanted to go prove that we can score points in the second half,” Dallas Goedert said. “We can play in the second half, that we’re a complete team, we can play 60 minutes.”

But the Eagles didn’t even need the full 60 minutes on Sunday.

They were able to score 14 points by early in the fourth quarter to take an insurmountable lead and were then able to pull most of their offensive starters with 9:24 left. That’s a nice head start with another game coming in a few days.

“Quick turnaround, back at it Thursday,” DeVonta Smith said, “So that helps a lot.”

After the Eagles forced a punt early in the fourth quarter already up big, Nick Sirianni made the decision to pull Jalen Hurts and most of his starters on offense. Not only did that eliminate injury risk, but it prevents unnecessary wear and tear.

Jason Kelce said because of the lack of a run game and getting the final 9:24 of the game off, his body felt much better than it normally does coming out of a game.

“That’s huge going into a short week,” Goedert said. “Give your body time to get ready. It’s definitely going to benefit us and that was another reason we wanted to stay aggressive, so we could get ahead and, if everything went right, do what we could do and not play the last 9 minutes or whatever, so we can be fresher on Thursday.”

Of course, the Eagles wouldn’t have been able to give their players any rest if they didn’t take care of business. Far too often this season, the Eagles have not been able to maintain their offensive aggressiveness into second halves.

Entering Sunday, the Eagles had scored just 35 second-half points all season. While it makes plenty of sense to bleed the clock in the second half with leads, there had been a few games that got too close for comfort.

That didn’t happen against the Steelers.

“That was obviously and emphasis throughout the week, at halftime,” Kelce said. “We’ve kind of stalled out in the third quarter, let’s make sure that we don’t do that. Let’s make sure that we don’t do that and put points on the board right away. Put points on the board and not kind of allow Pittsburgh back into it, which is what we’ve done the last few times we’ve been up that much. That’s a good improvement.”

The Eagles won the opening coin toss on Sunday and deferred so they got the ball first to start the second half. They didn’t wast much time.

They needed just five plays to go 75 yards and capped off the 2:07 drive with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Zach Pascal. The Steelers answered with a field goal later in the third but then the Eagles put together a really quick scoring drive (2 plays, 55 seconds) early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

And to flip the focus to Houston in Week 9.

“It's all about recovery,” Sirianni said. “Those guys are in there right now. Because we just have such an unbelievable training staff, strength staff, the trainers, and the doctors, they're in there getting massages right now, eating the right things.

“That quick turnaround is what are we going to do to make sure our bodies are ready to go. Coaches have a short turnaround as well, so we have to make sure that we get the plan together for our guys on a short week and that our guys can go out and execute.”

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