Arizona has been where good Eagles teams go to die. The Eagles haven’t won a game in Arizona since 2001.
This Eagles team, as they show each week, might not be one of those good Eagles teams. They might be considerably more than good — despite the uneasiness of Sunday’s victory.
The Eagles, facing adversity, strain and the possibility of losing their first game, went on a 17-play, 70-yard drive that set up the winning 23-yard field goal to defeat the Cardinals, 20-17.
The winning kick was converted by someone named Cameron Dicker, who was completely unknown by 99.99 percent of the Delaware Valley before he was signed earlier in the week to replace injured Pro Bowler Jake Elliott.
- They called me Monday morning, at 8 a.m., just getting out of bed,” Dicker said. “I got a call from my agent and it was: ‘Hey, you’re flying to Philly.’
- “Great. Flew in, worked out and got signed … It’s not up to me. I did the best I could do [working out for the Eagles] and let the people who make the decisions make the decisions.”
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni was pretty thrilled about the decision to sign Dicker and the results.
- “They went to the guy they felt the best about,” Sirianni said about the front office. “Not necessarily the guy with experience, the guy they felt the best about. What an unbelievable thing for Cam.
- “First of all, all the credit to him. He made the kick in a huge moment. He made another kick in a big moment [42-yard field goal in the third quarter]. He made both extra points.
- “The guys really embraced him, made him feel welcome. They put their arms around him. That’s our team.”
The Eagles consumed 7 minutes, 58 seconds of the fourth quarter on the season’s most important drive. They kept the ball away from the Cardinals, who were gouging yardage against the Eagles’ defense.
The drive was in-your-face, physical football. The Eagles were determined to run and the Cardinals knew it. Arizona just couldn’t stop them. The Eagles ran the ball 13 times on the final drive and gained 56 yards.
- “Maybe the run game wasn’t going the way we wanted it to early. Credit to them,” Sirianni said. “Jason Kelce fought through it [an injury]. Landon Dickerson fought through it.
- “We knew that this was going to be a physical game. We knew we had a physical team. We knew our identity is to be physical. And when we needed to the most, we were.
- “I know we didn’t punch it in. They made a good play there on third down. Our job as coaches is to lean on our best players and we jumped on our offensive line’s back and we rode them down the field …
- “That offensive line is warriors.”
After Dicker’s winning kick, Arizona had the ball with 1:45 to play but with no timeouts. The Cardinals already had come back from deficits of 14-0 and 17-10.
The Cardinals moved downfield but quarterback Kyler Murray made three crucial mistakes on their final drive. Still, he had the Cards in position to tie the score.
- Badly overthrew a wide open Zach Ertz
- Slid a yard early on a run at the 25-yard line, leaving the Cards a third-and-one
- Spiked the ball on the third down with 23 seconds to play, forcing the Cardinals to try a field goal
But the Cardinals’ rent-a-kicker, Matt Ammendola, didn’t convert as the Eagles’ rental did. Ammendola pushed a 43-yard field goal attempt wide right and this Eagles team became the third in franchise history to start a season 5-0.
LONG, LONG SEASON
Five games into a 17-game marathon is way too early to pass seasonal judgments about this Eagles team. Make such assumptions about the Eagles, or any NFL team, after only five games is done at your own peril.
All you had to do was look across the field at the Cardinals. Last year, the Cardinals won their first seven games, eight of nine. On Dec. 5, Arizona was 10-2, the team many analysts believed was headed to the Super Bowl behind MVP candidate Murray.
Then, the Cardinals imploded. They finished 11-6, barely made the playoffs and were eliminated by the Rams, 34-11, in the wild card round.
The Cardinals hadn’t won a home game in more than a year. It was Oct. 24, and it was no whoop — a 31-5 win over the sad sack Houston Texans.
Still, the game was in the Valley of the Sun — a mostly no-win location for the Eagles. The game was bare knuckles and physical. The Eagles pushed around the Cardinals and they were pushed back. Eagles fans with memories justifiably expected the worst.
The victory might not be enough to satisfy a fan base dreaming big dreams. In fact, you might feel a little worse about the Eagles after the game than before it.
The Eagles are 5-0. Every game isn’t going to be artistic. Some games are going to be won by some guy named Cameron Dicker. Enjoy it.
“It’s a great time to be a Philly sports fan,” Sirianni said, while wearing Phillies shirt.