The only matchup between division leaders did not disappoint Sunday. The Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles traded momentum throughout the game. The Cardinals twisted the dagger inside the 2-minute mark when Carson Palmer hit John Brown with a 75-yard bomb for a touchdown. The play helped the Cardinals topple the Eagles, 24-20, but the Cardinals defense still needed to make a stand.
With one minute and 20 seconds remaining in the game, Nick Foles tried to lead the Eagles to a game-winning touchdown from his own 20-yard line. The Eagles made their way to the Cardinals' 16, and with one second left on the play clock, Foles hit an open Jordan Matthews in the corner of the end zone. Matthews was forced out by Rashad Johnson, however, and couldn't come down in bounds, sealing the game for Arizona.
With a 28-yard field goal with nine minutes remaining in the game Chandler Catanzaro put the Cardinals even, 17-17, with the Eagles. The score was fitting of the game itself. To that point, it was difficult to say either team was playing better.
The Eagles dominated the first half by total yardage -- 273 to 171 -- but committed two turnovers, both deep in Cardinals territory, to head into halftime in a tie, 7-7. The Cardinals didn't turn the turnovers into points, but they did buy time for the offense to wake up. Early in the third quarter, Larry Fitzgerald scored on a 60-yard catch-and-run to put the Cardinals back up.
The Eagles responded with 10 straight points -- a 54-yard field goal from Cody Parkey, and a beautiful 54-yard pass and throw from Nick Foles to Jeremy Maclin.
After the big plays, both offenses sputtered. The Cardinals gave the ball back to the Eagles late in the third on an Andre Ellington fumble that had to be overturned on replay. The Eagles went 3-and-out off the opportunity, however, then Foles threw an ugly interception on their next possession that led to Catanzaro's kick.
Three things we learned:
1) Larry Fitzgerald still has it
Fitzgerald hadn't gone over 100 yards receiving in any game this season, and many had been wondering if his best days were officially over. He responded with a monster game against the Eagles -- seven receptions, 160 yards, one touchdown. He didn't look slow, and he didn't look out of place. Fitzgerald looked exactly like the player with a Hall of Fame case to make in his near future.
Keep in mind that Michael Floyd was just fine, despite the fact that he couldn't get open. Maybe defenses have focused their attention more on the younger wideout this season. That's just fine for the Cardinals and Fitzgerald.
2) Jeremy Maclin, too
In fact, he has had it all season, but it was hard to project this sort of success before the season began. On Sunday, Maclin had the best game of his career, catching 12 passes for 187 yards and two scores topping his previous career-best of 171 yards set in 2011.
When the Eagles let DeSean Jackson go in the offseason, we questioned the wisdom of the move, in part because Maclin was still something of an unknown quantity even six years into his career. He still has yet to post a 1,000-yard season (though he's currently well on pace) and had struggled with serious injuries. Maclin looked explosive Sunday, and more than capable of being a No. 1 receiver.
3) The Eagles need to stop committing turnovers
The Eagles were third in the NFL with 14 turnovers heading into Week 8, and they committed three more Sunday. Their minus-5 turnover differential on the season puts them near the bottom of the NFL among dubious company -- above Washington, Jacksonville, the New York Jets and New Orleans -- and just below Minnesota and Oakland. They will stay near the bottom after going minus-2 against the Cardinals.
It's a miracle that despite their turnover problems, the Eagles are still 5-2 on the season. If they don't start being careful, however, karma could bite them in a bad way over the second half of the season.