PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Fast starts have helped the Philadelphia Eagles overcome slow finishes.
The Eagles (7-5) have survived poor fourth quarters during a four-game winning streak thanks to building big leads early. They've been outscored 33-0 in the final quarter in the four games, and haven't scored an offensive touchdown in the fourth quarter since Week 6 at Tampa.
"Part of being a good football team is you have to learn how to finish games," coach Chip Kelly said. "It's something we've got to continue to work on. Like everything, there's got to be things to work on every week, and that's something we'll address this week."
The stat is somewhat misleading because the Eagles haven't needed to score points in the fourth quarter during their winning streak. They've built leads of at least 17 points in the third quarter of each game.
They effectively ran out the clock in a 27-13 win at Green Bay on Nov. 10 by keeping the ball the final 9:32. But they couldn't sustain long drives in the fourth against Washington and Arizona, and the defense needed a hold at the end in both games.
The Redskins nearly overcame a 24-0 lead and were trailing 24-16 with the ball at the Eagles 18 when Brandon Boykin intercepted Robert Griffin III's pass in the end zone with 24 seconds left two weeks ago.
Last Sunday, the Cardinals rallied from a 24-7 deficit and were trailing 24-21 before the defense forced a turnover on downs in the final minutes.
"I don't know if there's a common thread," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "In a couple of games we were playing, we were trying to melt the clock. There's been times when we've been ahead and we've done a better job of chewing the clock and moving the ball, and there's been a couple games that we didn't. And so that's what you work on."
The problem could be the Eagles change their approach when they have leads in the fourth quarter. The fast-paced, hurry-up offense works well when the Eagles run plays quickly, keep the defense off-balance and don't allow opponents to rest or match up properly.