Eagles beat Jets 24-17 for first win
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) So much for those sluggish, winless Philadelphia Eagles.
Darren Sproles sparked the Eagles with an 89-yard punt return for a score and added a 1-yard touchdown run, the defense caused four turnovers and Philadelphia got its first win of the season by holding on to beat the New York Jets 24-17 on Sunday.
Sam Bradford threw a TD pass to Ryan Mathews, who also rushed for 108 yards on 25 carries while starting in place of the injured DeMarco Murray. The Eagles (1-2) improved to 10-0 all-time against the Jets (2-1), who were coming off a victory at Indianapolis last Monday night.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall and Jeremy Kerley, but was intercepted three times. The last one, by Walter Thurmond with 3:28 left, helped seal the victory over the Jets, who held the Eagles scoreless after halftime.
Nick Folk kicked a 53-yard field goal with 2:34 remaining, but Seyi Ajirotutu recovered the onside kick and the Eagles ran out the clock.
Philadelphia avoided its first 0-3 start since 1999, when the Eagles lost their first four games and finished 5-11.
Murray was out with a hamstring injury, while the Jets played without running back Chris Ivory (quadriceps), who was active but didn’t play, and wide receiver Eric Decker (sprained knee). In Murray’s absence, Mathews and Sproles got the Eagles’ heavily criticized offense going as Philadelphia scored 24 straight points to open the game.
Bradford was 14 of 28 for 118 yards, while Fitzpatrick was 35 of 58 for 283 yards. Marshall had 10 catches for 109 yards.
Kerley, who had been dropped on the depth chart and played just two total snaps on offense entering the game, caught a 7-yard pass from Fitzpatrick to get the Jets within 24-14 with 9:37 remaining. The catch capped a 16-play drive in which New York held the ball for 8:11.
The Jets appeared ready to turn the momentum when David Harris popped the ball out of Mathews’ hands and Demario Davis recovered. But three plays later, Philadelphia took it right back when Brandon Bair deflected Fitzpatrick’s pass intended for Marshall and Jordan Hicks grabbed the easy interception.
Sproles put the Eagles up by 10 with his spectacular punt return early in the second quarter, dodging at least four would-be Jets tacklers. It was the second-longest punt return score in Eagles history, second only to Demaris Johnson’s 98-yarder against Dallas in 2012. It was also the longest punt return for a TD – and sixth overall – of Sproles’ career.
Bradford made it 17-0 with 4:57 left before halftime when he found Mathews streaking down the right sideline – with linebacker Davis in single coverage – and connected with the running back for a 23-yard TD.
With the Jets in desperate need of a lift on offense on the ensuing possession, Marshall tried to do too much as he caught a 17-yard pass – and then tried to get off a backward pass to Jeff Cumberland. But the ball hit an Eagles defender and was recovered by Hicks. A video review confirmed the call, and the Eagles made the Jets pay.
Sproles got his second score moments later, running straight ahead for a 1-yard TD that gave Philadelphia a 24-0 lead with 2:11 remaining in the half.
The Jets were able to get on the scoreboard with a 79-yard drive, capped by Marshall’s 16-yard touchdown grab with 6 seconds left. New York struggled miserably on offense in the first half while gaining just 63 total yards before the scoring drive.
Jets quarterback Geno Smith was active as Fitzpatrick’s backup for the first time this season after having his jaw broken by a punch from then-teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali on Aug. 11.
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