NINERS’ WIN OVER EAGLES CREATES A NEW REALITY IN NFC RACE

Eagle WR Riley Cooper was a butterfingers in the second quarter.

By Michael McCarthy

Sunday’s 26-21 loss to the 49ers not only sent Eagles Nation into a funk, but it threw the NFC race into a chaotic mess.

The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks both had the Sunday off, so they were watching intently as the Niners got off the NFC mat and edged the Eagles 26-21.

The 49ers, in peril of their first three-game losing streak under coach Jim Harbaugh, rallied and knocked off the previously undefeated Eagles with a familiar formula: running game and defense.

Frank Gore ran for 119 yards — his first 100-yard game of the season — and turned a cross-field pass from Colin Kaepernick into a 55-yard touchdown. And San Francisco’s defense kept Philly’s offense from crossing the 50-yard line for the first 56 minutes of the game.

What’s more, the 49ers came alive in the second half for the first time all season. The team that had been outscored, 52-3, in the second halves of the first three games, pitched a 13-0 shutout of the Eagles and top-rated quarterback Nick Foles after halftime.

The Eagles’ scoring came on two special-teams touchdowns and a pick-six.

In a showdown between Harbaugh and the Birds’ Chip Kelly — a flashback to their coaching days at Stanford and Oregon, respectively — Eagles fans were left gritting their teeth over a particularly painful series near the end.

With Philadelphia trailing by five with 2 minutes 50 seconds remaining, the Eagles had a first-and-goal at the six-yard line.

Foles had an incomplete pass. On second down, LeSean McCoy ran to the one-yard line. Then, instead of trying to pound in with a run, the Eagles went back to the air and two more incompletions.

Although Philly would get the ball back after a quick three-and-out by San Francisco, the Eagles went nowhere, and their fate was sealed with a fourth-down interception of Foles.

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