Eagles Defense Holds Up Just Enough

The Eagles defense will be vilified for those three late touchdowns that turned the game into a nailbiter. Conversely, Philadelphia's D did make timely plays at opportune times.

The three consecutive drives in which Bill Davis' defense allowed three touchdowns probably didn't do your blood pressure any good. Bradley Fletcher's recurring cushion issues, Austin Davis' well-placed darts, and the sudden absence of the aggressive pass rush that yielded four early sacks, contributed to the Rams alarming comeback bid.

Scoring 21 points in 10:27 of game time is enough to make Eagles fans forget that they watched their team win 34-28. Those white-knuckle finishes take some of the air out of whooping it up among fellow fan friends.

You can blame Nick Foles' needless fumble on the give-himself-up slide for helping galvanize the Rams' later surge. Making the stress even more excruciating were a pair of offensive drives by the Eagles that gained 51 yards on ten plays, taking off a mere 5:08 of game time. Not quite the nine-minute closer against the Packers last season.

So no, all of the blame can't be heaped on the defense, despite the three late touchdowns.

To put it another way, the Rams scored on four of 14 total possessions. Of the ten that didn't yield St. Louis points, five resulted in some form of a turnover, four led to punts, and one was a halftime concession, down 20-7.

Maybe you've heard of the statistic Bendability. That's where you take an opponent's yards gained, then divide it by the points the score. Multiply that result by seven, and that's how many yards, on average, a team needs to score a touchdown.

Coming into Sunday's game at the Linc, the Eagles' Bendability rating for the season was 15.05 (touchdown ever 105.35 yards allowed), which was good for 17th best in the league. Makes sense, given the previous slate of high-scoring battles that addled the D.

On Sunday, St. Louis did score 28 points, but on a whopping 466 yards of offense. The Rams averaged 116.5 yards per touchdown scored, giving the Eagles a healthy 16.64 Bendability rating.

Here's the breakdown of those 466 yards.

FOUR SCORING DRIVES, 300 YARDS

The low point for the Eagles defense, as nearly two-thirds of the Rams output went toward touchdowns. Holding them to a field goal on even just one of those drives would have made Philadelphia's day a whole lot easier, but it is what it is.

Davis and company, particularly Brian Quick and Kenny Britt, came alive in the fourth quarter with tremendous efforts to which the Eagles had no counter.

FIVE TURNOVER DRIVES, 69 YARDS

A little more respectable. Philadelphia forced three fumbles (one a Cedric Thornton touchdown), blocked a punt (the Chris Maragos touchdown), and held off the Rams on fourth down to seal the game.

The last two turnover drives gained significant yardage. The final fumble, recovered by Thornton and returned all the way to the Rams' 24 yard line, gained 37 yards, reaching the Eagles' 36-yard line before Brandon Graham forced Zac Stacy to cough it up.

The Rams' last drive, in which a touchdown would have taken the lead, began at their own seven and reached midfield, going for 40 yards before turning it over on downs. Philadelphia made a four-down stand, aided with a key Brandon Boykin break-up against Austin Pettis on third-down.

FIVE CONCESSION DRIVES, 91 YARDS

These include four punts on drives of a combined 84 yards, and a seven-yard gain before the Rams decided to go in at halftime.

Two of the drives gained a bit of ground before stalling out. The first was a late-first quarter drive that ran six plays, gaining 36 yards before failing at the Eagles' 40. The second took place early in the third quarter, trailing 27-7, and gained 35 yards before hitting a stalling point at the Eagles' 44.

Point being: the Rams came considerably closer to winning this game than even the late touchdown blitzkrieg indicates. Thanks to timely plays (Eagles forcing punts in their own territory, the Stacy fumble in field goal range), Philadelphia managed to build just enough of a lead, and maintain it with those key plays, despite the late surge.

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