Extra Points: Eagles in First Place Adds to Craziness of 2020
This year has been weird, to say the least. Before Covid-19 hit the country in March, the last time I wore a mask was when I dressed up as Batman to go trick-or-treating in 1968.
It's been nothing but craziness the last few months. Plexiglass barriers surround the gaming tables in Atlantic City. The press is not allowed in the press box at high school football games. I celebrated my birthday in April by waving from my front step while my grandsons drove past with an "We Love You Poppy" sign taped to the car window.
For me, one particular episode has epitomized 2020.
In late July, beachgoers on Perry Street in Cape May were greeted by a swarm of bees that ultimately turned a woman's towel into a hive. They apparently were following the queen bee, who caused quite the buzz after getting dethroned earlier in the day.
So, it only figures the Eagles be in first place in the NFC East with Sunday's 25-20 over San Francisco. Dallas (1-3), Washington (1-3) and the New York Giants (0-4) all lost earlier, leaving the Eagles (1-2-1) atop the division, despite a horrible start to the season.
And that wide receiver Travis Fulgham and linebacker Alex Singleton would be the heroes.
Yeah, I've never heard of them, either.
Fulgham, who played college ball at Old Dominion - is there a New Dominion anywhere? - was on the Eagles' practice squad until Saturday. He was promoted to the active roster due to injuries to DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor, Alshon Jeffery, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. One more injury and the Eagles would have asked Mike Quick to come out of the radio booth.
Fulgham caught two passes against the 49ers, which is two more than Arcega-Whiteside has this season. His final reception was his biggest, an acrobatic grab along the sideline in which he somehow managed to stay inbounds before tumbling into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown.
According to NBCSports.com, it was the longest fourth-quarter, go-ahead TD catch by an Eagle since running back Brian Westbrook caught a 57-yarder from Donovan McNabb against Washington in 2007.
"I just did what I do every day in practice," Fulgham said after the game. "It was right in the bread basket and I was able to get the touchdown. For me, that's a regular play. The ball's in the air. See ball, go get it."
Singleton, a former star in the Canadian Football League, was originally slated for special teams duty against the Niners, but was called upon to play linebacker in the second half after T.J. Edwards left with a hamstring injury.
Like Fulgham, he also made the most of his opportunity.
Niners quarterback Nick Mullens' last pass of the game hit Singleton in the chest. He returned it 30 yards for the Eagles' first defensive touchdown of the season, which proved to be the game-winning score.
"(Mullens) kind of threw the ball right to me," Singleton said after the game. "My heart kind of skipped a beat. Just caught it, went with it. Knew I had to get in the end zone. We talk about it all week, to score on defense. It was the only thing going through my mind."
The TD toss to Fulgham was part of a solid performance from Carson Wentz. He completed 18 of 28 passes for 193 yards with a TD and an interception - his seven interceptions lead the league - and also ran for a TD.
It was especially impressive given his supporting cast, but please stop with the narrative that it was somehow a spectacular effort. The best that can be said is that he played better than the first three games, but let's not put him in the Pro Bowl just yet.
Given the awful state of the NFC East - the teams are a combined 3-12-1 so far - it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the Eagles could finish something like 5-10-1 and still make the playoffs.
That tie against Cincinnati could be the deciding factor. In 2014, Carolina won the NFC South with a 7-8-1 record while New Orleans went 7-9.
If they wind up making it, they can thank guys like Fulgham and Singleton for playing like the bee's knees.