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.
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
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
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
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
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
6. Javon Hargrave career high in sacks
7. Eagles make franchise history
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.
Brandon Graham's career-high 10th sack breaks the @Eagles' single-season franchise record (63).
— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) January 1, 2023
They also broke the franchise record for sacks in a season.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 1, 2023
8. Eagles dismal first quarter performance
9. Inept play calling
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
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.