PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles' offense is finally starting to show some potential.
Rookie quarterback Nick Foles, rookie running back Bryce Brown and a revamped offensive line helped it score a season-high 26 points Sunday in a 38-33 loss at Dallas.
Much of the credit belongs to an offensive line that is starting to develop chemistry and cohesiveness after enduring a rash of injuries that sidelined center Jason Kelce and tackles Jason Peters and Todd Herremans for the season and put guard Danny Watkins on the bench.
Sunday's game at Tampa Bay will mark the fourth straight one that center Dallas Reynolds, guards Evan Mathis and Jake Scott, and tackles King Dunlap and Dennis Kelly have played together.
"You always want to find positives in what you do, and I think our growth as an offensive line is one of those positives," Kelly said. "I think we are building a rhythm. We're getting to know how to play with each other and I think it's showing. Knowing the guys and having continuity has definitely helped us."
The offensive line reached its low point in a 28-13 loss to New Orleans on Nov. 5. The Saints registered seven sacks against quarterback Michael Vick, who was knocked out of the following game against Dallas with a concussion and has yet to return to action.
In the last two games, however, the Eagles have allowed two total sacks while paving the way for Brown to rush for a combined 347 yards and four touchdowns against Carolina and Dallas.
"You look at the sacks and you look at the run game where you've got a running back that's cranked out a few yards here in the last few weeks," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "(The offensive line) has done a good job in their protection and they've done a good job with the run game."
Much of the credit belongs to Reynolds, Mathis and Scott.
Reynolds had never played in a regular-season NFL game before Kelce suffered torn ligaments in his knee against Baltimore in the second game of the season. He got off to a rocky start, but has since become a reliable, consistent player.
He's also earned respect among the players and coaches for his toughness. Reynolds suffered a severe ankle sprain against Washington on Nov. 18, but played the entire game and was back in the lineup for the next two games.
"Dallas Reynolds is one tough dude, man," Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg said. "Dallas had some high-level sacrifice. For him to play through that, he deserves some recognition."
Mathis has provided stability. Mathis and tight end Brent Celek are the only members of the Eagles' offense who have started all 12 games at the same position. But while Celek has been inconsistent this season, Mathis has played well enough to be considered a possibility for the Pro Bowl.
The eight-year NFL veteran has also served as a mentor to second-year guard Danny Watkins, plus provided onfield help to left tackles Dunlap and Demetress Bell.
"Looking back on it, it seems like we've steadily improved," Mathis said. "I think it's a combination of the continuity and the experience. Those two things together can go a long way."
Scott has been among the Eagles' biggest surprises this season.
At this point a month ago, the nine-year veteran was out of a job. After playing four years with Indianapolis (2004-07) and four with Tennessee (2008-2011), he sat out the first 10 weeks of this season before signing with the Eagles on Nov. 12.
He started at right guard for the Eagles just six days later at Washington and has played so well that Watkins - the Eagles' first-round draft pick in 2011- can't get back on the field.
"I'm sticking with the group that's playing right now," Reid said. "They're playing very well together and I think that's a positive."
Scott has been a big help to Kelly, a rookie sixth-round draft pick who started three games at right guard before being moved out to right tackle.
He's been able to work with Kelly on techniques while also providing some insider tips that only come with experience.
"He's absolutely been a big help to me," Kelly said. "He's very smart and he's played in so many games (127). He gives me some subtle tips that calm me down a little bit when I need it. He reminds me not to worry about things outside of my responsibility and don't try to do too much. It's been very good for me."
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Eagles at Buccaneers
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
TV/radio: FOX/97.3 FM
Line: Buccaneers by 7