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PHILADELPHIA – Slow starts and strong finishes have become a trend for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles' 30-27 comeback win at Indianapolis on Monday night made them the first team in NFL history to overcome double-digit, halftime deficits in the first two games.
Chip Kelly and his players know this isn't a recipe for long-term success.
"No one should be patting themselves on the back anywhere," Kelly said Tuesday. "We're fortunate to be 2-0. We've done a great job of coming back in both games, but there is a lot of work in every aspect of the game that we need to work on. So that's the great thing about this group, they understand that."
The Eagles trailed Jacksonville 17-0 at halftime in the season opener before rallying for a 34-17 victory.
They were down 17-6 against the Colts at the half and 20-6 in the third quarter before coming back. They haven't scored a touchdown in the first half in six of the past 12 games, but they're 9-1 in their past 10 regular-season games.
"It's good to have that in your arsenal that you know that your team can stick together through adversity," quarterback Nick Foles said. "Do you want to go down like this every single week? I mean, if that's what it takes, we'll do it, but we need to play better football in the first half offensively.
"We really need to get things going. There's a lot of stuff that, even though we won like we did, there's a lot of stuff to improve on. That's the exciting thing for us, we need to improve."
Foles struggled in the first half against the Jaguars and missed a couple of open receivers against the Colts. He's already matched his interceptions total (two) for all of last season. But his overall numbers are solid: 653 yards, three touchdowns, 86.1 passer rating.
"We had a few drops at the wideout spot," Kelly said. "Also had a couple balls that could have been placed a little better, so they've got to come up with the catches and we've got to play some ball a little bit better."
Riley Cooper couldn't hang on for a touchdown catch and Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews each had drops. Foles completed 15 passes for 261 yards to running backs and tight ends. Darren Sproles was the catalyst for the latest comeback. The versatile back had a career-high 152 yards receiving, 26 rushing and one TD.
"He can do so many things, and the thing I love most about him is he's a great teammate," Foles said. "The guys love him. He's great in the locker room. He's a guy you can depend on, and he's been a great addition to our team."
Red zone issues hurt the Eagles in the first half again. They gained a total of 10 yards on their first 10 plays inside the 20. They settled for a pair of field goals by Cody Parkey and he missed one from 38 yards.
But the running game got going in the second half and Foles made some precision passes, including a 6-yard TD toss to Maclin that tied it at 27 in the fourth. A makeshift offensive line missing two starters and using a third-string right tackle kept Foles clean — he wasn't sacked.
"I thought both those guys held up really well," Kelly said of left guard Dennis Kelly and right tackle Andrew Gardner. "Both those guys did a pretty good job their first chance in the limelight."
The Washington Redskins (1-1) are next up for Philadelphia in DeSean Jackson's first return since the three-time Pro Bowl receiver was released by the Eagles in March.
NOTES: Kelly didn't have any update on a calf injury that forced LB Mychal Kendricks out of the game in the second half. Kendricks is one of the most irreplaceable players on defense. Casey Matthews filled in for him and struggled, specifically in pass coverage. ... Kelly downplayed ESPN showing a screen shot of his play sheet. "There isn't much to do about it. They already did it," he said.
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