The Eagles got a little help from Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley, who the Eagles considered before hiring Kelly.
With the Jaguars facing fourth-andone at their own 29-yard line with 6:01 left, Bradley ordered Chad Henne to go for it. Henne threw high to his open tight end, Marcedes Lewis, and the Eagles took over on downs.
“Early in the game we felt like we needed to steal a possession somewhere,” Bradley said. “We had a chance to execute it and be bold. We felt like we had to steal the possession and we just missed it.”
Defensive end Fletcher Cox picked up a fumble forced by Trent Cole and rolled 17 yards for a touchdown with 1:23 to go.
“The right thing to do was to get down and let the offense get on the field and bring the victory home,” Cox said. “But it was once in a lifetime for a D-lineman to see the ball and that much grass to the end zone. I don’t think I’ll probably have too many chances to do that.”
It was a tough day for the offensive line.
All-Pro guard Evan Mathis was carted off with a knee injury.
Allen Barbre, the replacement for suspended right tackle Lane Johnson, exited with a sprained ankle.
Both will undergo magnetic resonance imaging tests Monday. Mathis could be shelved for a significant amount of time. Reserve center David Molk and Andrew Gardner replaced them.
Left offensive tackle Jason Peters, the perennial Pro Bowler, gave up 2 sacks resulting in two Foles fumbles recovered by the Jaguars in the first quarter.
“I’ve just got to stay on them longer,” Peters said. “They were running up the field, running all the way around. I’ve just got to stay on them and push them up the field more, you know? They were covering up our receivers I guess. It was my fault, I’ve just got to stay on the defensive end longer and give Foles time.”
Henne looked like anything but a retread turning the fumbles into touchdown throws to undrafted rookie receiver Allen Hurns. It staked the Jaguars to a 17-0 lead at the intermission.
Hurns beat Cary Williams on the first scoring grab. On the next one Hurns, who had four receptions for 100 yards, got over on Williams, Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen.
“We gave him a lot of things,” Williams said. “And that’s the bottom line. He’s a good player. He’s definitely an NFL player but not the caliber of player that I made him look like today. Trust me, it wasn’t all him. It was a bad game on my part. I was trying to do too much. I committed the golden sin. That won’t happen again.”
It could have been worse for the Eagles.
Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee missed a 50-yard field goal attempt and had a 36-yarder snuffed by Brandon Bair in the first half.
It also could have been better.
Foles was intercepted by cornerback Alan Ball throwing a fade to Brent Celek in the end zone in the first half.
Ultimately the Eagles got a huge third-quarter spark from Darren Sproles.
Booed for fair-catching a punt in the third quarter with the Birds in a 17-0 hole, Sproles survived a big hit on an 8-yard screen pass and then on fourthand-one, burst up the middle behind a Jason Kelce block to put the Birds on the scoreboard. It came off a quick count.
“It absolutely caught them off guard,” Kelce said, no pun intended. “They didn’t have a safety back there. Once we broke through the hole it was smooth sailing.”
Sproles bounced back with a 22-yard punt return after the Eagles forced a three-and-out. It set up Foles’ 25-yard scoring pass to Zach Ertz pulling the Birds within 17-14. Ertz caught three passes for 77 yards.
When kicker Cody Parkey knotted the game at 17 with a 51-yard field goal, the Eagles knew they were on the verge of victory. Parkey added a 28-yarder and a PAT after Cox’s return, completing the scoring.
When all was said and done, Kelly was OK with the resiliency of Foles and the team that rallied to win.
“I talked to him a few times,” Kelly said of Foles. “I can see why he was frustrated. I think everybody was frustrated. I heard a few fans that were frustrated, too. Go figure. But they had every right. I was booing myself.”