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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Glenn Erby

10 takeaways from the first half as the Saints hold a 13-0 lead over the Eagles

The Eagles returned to Lincoln Financial Field for the first time in three weeks, and in a shocking turn of events, were held scoreless in the first half by a stingy Saints defense.

Philadelphia was held to 61 total yards, two first downs (0 in first 29 minutes), 1-5 on 3rd downs, and 9 rushing yards in a miserable first-half performance as the team works to wrap up the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

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With the second half moments away from starting, here are ten takeaways from a nerve-wracking first half of action.

1. Eagles terrible on third down

(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

The Saints converted 6-10 third attempts and logged 247 total yards in the first half while holding the ball for 22.50 seconds.

2. Saints best player in the slot

(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

Taking a page out of the Cowboys’ playbook, New Orleans featured wide receiver Chris Olave and tight end, Juwan Johnson, out of the slot.

Rashid Shaheed had four catches for 43 yards, Juwan Johnson had 5 catches for 62 yards and rookie Chris Olave had 4 catches for 42 yards in an active first half.

3. Andy Dalton near perfect first half

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

13-14 passing for 164 yards in the first half and would have been perfect in the first half if not for an untimely interception to Josiah Scott.

We previewed the Eagles’ inability to pressure quarterbacks in key situations and they have to blitz Dalton in the second half.

4. Injuries continue to mount at key positions

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Already without Lane Johnson (groin), C.J. Gardner-Johnson (kidney), and Avonte Maddox (toe), the Eagles lost Josh Sweat on Sunday to an apparent head injury or stinger after having his neck snapped back on a tackle early in the first quarter.

5. Brandon Graham makes history

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The longtime Eagles pass rusher finally recorded 10 sacks in a single season to accomplish a goal.

6. Javon Hargrave career high in sacks

(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

7. Eagles make franchise history

(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

With Graham’s 10th sack of the season, Philadelphia became the first Eagles to become the first team in NFL history with 4 players reaching 10 sacks or more.

– Reddick
– Sweat
– BG
– Hargrave

They also broke the franchise record for sacks in a season.

8. Eagles dismal first quarter performance

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This team doesn’t need a bye with the way they’re currently producing on offense without Jalen Hurts.

9. Inept play calling

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Steichen is a head coaching candidate but his playcalling over the past three weeks has been pedestrian at best.

Philadelphia had 11 total yards and back-to-back three-and-outs at one point with 8:30 remaining in the first half. Even worse, the big three of A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert were held without a target during that span. Philadelphia has to embrace the run and get Miles Sanders involved to help take some pressure off backup right tackle Jack Driscoll.

Philadelphia has run 17 total plays and accrued 2 first downs in that span.

10. Random notes

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia had the ball for less than five minutes in the first half and barely ran nine plays in the first half. New Orleans had the football for almost 25 minutes and ran almost 40 plays in that first half.

Gardner Minshew was 6-10 passing for 70 yards and was sacked five times in the first half as the Eagles failed to generate any offensive efficiency.

Miles Sanders had two carries for 9 yards in the first half and no other running back touched the ball from the backfield.

A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert were held to a combined four catches for 52 yards and no touchdowns.

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