Eagles

Seahawks 24, Eagles 10: Studs, duds, turning point and more

Seahawks 24, Eagles 10: Studs, duds, turning point and more

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE — The Eagles talked all week about how important this road trip was going to be.

They talked about how these next few games could very well define their season.

Then they had a clunker.  

The Eagles went down early to the Seahawks at a raucous CenturyLink Field on Sunday night and never recovered. They committed too many penalties, had a major turnover, struggled to stop Russell Wilson and didn't get a consistent game from Carson Wentz or head coach Doug Pederson.

They lost 24-10 (see Roob's observations)

The Eagles dropped to 10-2 and lost their first game since Sept. 17 in Kansas City. They failed to set a new franchise record of 10 straight wins.

They also failed to clinch the division this weekend.

With the win, the Seahawks improved to 8-4 and avoided losing three games in a row at home. It would have been the first time that happened since 2008.

Thanks to a Vikings win earlier on Sunday, the Eagles are no longer the top team in the NFC. They have the same record as the Vikings, who would win in tiebreakers for the one-seed if the playoffs began today. 

The Eagles had a pretty awful first half, but trailed by just one touchdown heading into the locker room and got the ball back to start the second half. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Wentz fumbled the ball at the goal line on the first drive of the second half and the Eagles failed to get points.

During the week, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz warned of how dangerous Russell Wilson can be. He was right. Wilson was tremendous for all of Sunday's game. His ability to use his legs to extend plays really hurt the Eagles.

Turning point
Wentz's fumble out of the back of the end zone in the third quarter was a disaster. The Eagles could have tied the game at 10-10. Instead, the Seahawks got the ball back and scored for a 14-point swing. 

Key stat
After the Bears game a week ago, Pederson warned that penalties and turnovers could come back to hurt the Eagles against better competition. That's what happened on Sunday.

The Eagles were on the receiving end of several questionable calls, but they still committed too many penalties. They had seven for 64 yards.

Offensive stud
Nelson Agholor was the Eagles' best receiver on Sunday. He had the first 100-yard game of his career.

Offensive dud
Wentz just didn't have his best game on Sunday. Even aside from that disastrous fumble out of the end zone, he didn't show his normal MVP-like form against the Seahawks. He made a couple fantastic throws, but it came too late (see report card).

Left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has been solid recently, had a really bad game against Seattle. 

Defensive stud
Brandon Graham continues to play great football. He's a game-wrecker. In the first half, he sacked Wilson from his knees. He picked up another half sack in the second half. 

Defensive dud
A few players deserve blame. The Eagles' defense didn't pull its weight. Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod and Mychal Kendricks were beaten through the air. 

Key plays
• Kendricks was faked out of his shoes by J.D. McKissic in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass. After the Eagles made it a one-score game, the defense gave up a 73-yard touchdown drive to push the lead to 24-10.

• On a key third down in the fourth quarter, Wilson lateraled the ball after a six-yard carry to pick up the first down. Replays showed it might have been a forward pass, but the Eagles didn't challenge the ruling.

• On 3rd-and-13 in the fourth quarter, Wentz somehow threw an incredible 51-yard pass to Agholor completely off balance to extend the drive. A couple plays later, Wentz threw a beautiful touchdown pass to Agholor to make the score 17-10.

• The Eagles went for it on 4th-and-3 in the third quarter and failed to get a first down. Wentz tossed the ball out in the flat to Kenjon Barner, who lost his footing, and the pass hit the ground.

• On a 3rd-and-10, Wilson got a pass off before the blitz got to him and delivered a throw to Baldwin, who shook off McLeod on the play. The 47-yard gain put the Seahawks on the Eagles' 1-yard line. A few plays later, Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for a 1-yard touchdown pass to put Seattle up 17-3.

• On the first drive of the second half, Wentz scrambled for four yards and neared the goal line when he fumbled the ball out of the back of the end zone for a touchdown. The Eagles could have tied the game at 10-10, so this play was crushing.

• The Eagles had a 16-play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter, but came away with just three points. Jake Elliott hit a 26-yard field goal to make the score 10-3. The longest play on the drive was a 12-yard scramble from Wentz.  

• Ronald Darby was called for a ticky-tacky 19-yard defensive pass interference down the sideline. A few plays later, Wilson hit Jimmy Graham for an 11-yard touchdown pass to put the Seahawks up 10-0.

• The Eagles' defense didn't get off to a great start, giving up two third-down conversions, but held the Seahawks to a field goal on their opening drive.

Injury report
Joe Walker (neck) was inactive on Sunday after suffering a stinger against the Bears.

Zach Ertz left the game in the second half with a concussion.

Up next
The Eagles are leaving Seattle, but they're not going home just yet. Instead, they're flying to Southern California, where they'll spend the week practicing at Angel Stadium before playing the Rams in LA next Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.

Jay Ajayi no longer a secret in Eagles' RB room

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USA Today Images

Jay Ajayi no longer a secret in Eagles' RB room

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It's not much of a secret anymore. 

Jay Ajayi is the Eagles' top running back. 

And in Sunday's 34-29 win over the Giants, he began to separate himself even more. He had 89 total yards on 14 touches and was a threat on the ground and through the air.

"Yeah, I definitely feel that I was getting some good runs out there," Ajayi said. "Obviously, I would have loved to do a lot more on the ground, but what I was able to get, I think I was running pretty hard today."

Ajayi's numbers weren't staggering Sunday, but he was the best of the Eagles' four-man running back rotation. He had 49 yards on 12 carries and had two catches for 40 yards. The other three running backs combined had the same number of touches. 

For the past few weeks, Ajayi's role in the offense has grown and that doesn't look like it's slowing down anytime soon. By the time the playoffs get here, the Eagles' midseason acquisition should be really hitting his stride in his new offense. For as good as LeGarrette Blount has been, at times this season, he just doesn't seem to have the explosiveness the 24-year-old Pro Bowler does. 

Ajayi's playmaking ability really took center stage in the third quarter, when he ran for 22 yards and then caught a screen pass for 32 yards on the very next play. That set up a touchdown to put the Eagles up 31-23 a few plays later.

"I definitely feel on plays like that, it's good to feel like I'm doing good for the offense, getting in a rhythm," Ajayi said. "Obviously, I would have loved to finish in the end zone. So I just have to make sure I end in the end zone so I can put some points on the board in the RB room and get us some stats."

If Ajayi's looking for stats, how about these: He already has four runs of 20-plus yards this season. Blount, who has been with the team all year, has just seven. 

And in six games with the Eagles, Ajayi has 356 yards on 56 carries for an average of 6.4 yards. Ajayi's overall numbers aren't that good because of his time in Miami, but if only his Philly stats counted, he'd be among pretty exclusive company. There's only one running back in the league (Alvin Kamara) to average over 6.0 yards per carry with at least 50 attempts. 

Aside from his running ability, Ajayi enjoys the receiving aspect of playing in this offense. He might not be the most natural pass-catcher, but his 40 yards receiving was the second-highest total of his career. He'll get even more chances to catch the ball this season, especially if he's on the field for an increasing number of third downs.

Really, getting on the field on third down is all about trust from the coaching staff.

"Yeah, I've shown them that I'm keyed in on my protections and it's just about knowing what you're doing on third down," he said. "And that's what I've been trying to do throughout this time."

Ajayi prides himself on his physical condition. Even when he was the feature back in Miami, he prided himself on being fresh late in games and late in the season. He claims he would be fresh even if that was the case.

But the Eagles haven't asked him to carry the ball 20-plus times at all since he's been in Philly. After carrying the ball 260 times last year, he has just 194 carries this season and just 56 of those have come since the trade. Even if the Eagles ride him hard over the last two games of the season — which seems unlikely — he's going to have way fewer touches this year. 

"I feel good," Ajayi said. "I'm very diligent in my preparation, so whether I was getting a lot or a little, I would still feel good. But right now, I feel good."

Facing misconduct investigation, Panthers owner selling team

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AP Images

Facing misconduct investigation, Panthers owner selling team

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Facing a growing investigation that accuses him of sexual misconduct and using racist language at work, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced Sunday that he will sell the NFL team after the season.

The team announced on Twitter that Richardson is selling the team, linking to a five-paragraph letter by the franchise's only owner.

"I believe it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership," Richardson wrote, saying he wouldn't begin discussions until after the season. The Panthers, who lost in the Super Bowl in 2016, are in playoff position again.

"I hope everyone in the organization, both on and off the field, will be firmly focused on one mission: to play and win the Super Bowl," said Richardson, 81.

The NFL awarded Richardson, a former player with the Baltimore Colts, an expansion franchise in 1993, and he has been the team's only owner.

Richardson's letter did not directly address the investigation.

"There has been no greater mission or purpose in my life than to have brought and NFL franchise to Charlotte," Richardson wrote. "The obstacles back then were significant and some even questioned whether or community could or would support professional football. But I always knew that if given the chance the Carolina would rise to the occasion. And you have. The team has become an integral part of the community. The stadium is in its best condition since the day it opened."

Richardson attended the game Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers at Bank of America Stadium and was photographed sitting beside his wife Rosalind in his luxury box.

He did not speak to reporters.

"While I will no longer be the team owner, I will always be the Panthers Number One fan," Richardson's letter said.

The Panthers are tied to Charlotte through June of 2019.

The city of Charlotte and the Panthers reached agreement on improvements for the team's stadium in 2013. The plan called for the city to contribute about $87 million for renovations to Bank of America Stadium in exchange for a six-year deal to keep the Panthers in Charlotte.

The money is less than what the team was seeking for improvements of the stadium, which opened in 1996. Forbes estimates the Panthers worth at $2.3 billion.

Richardson's announcement comes after a Sports Illustrated report that cited unnamed sources who said Richardson made sexually suggestive comments to women and on at least one occasion directed a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout. The report states that the settlements came with non-disclosure requirements forbidding the parties from discussing the details.

The NFL on Sunday said it has taken over the investigation of allegations of workplace misconduct. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had no comment on the report.

Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said Sunday the team requested the league take over the investigation.

"We thought it would be best for transparency reasons," Drummond told The Associated Press.

The investigation was originally going to be led by the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, LLP, and overseen by Erskine Bowles, a minority owner with the Panthers.

Drummond said in a release that the Panthers take these allegations very seriously and are committed to a full investigation.

"The entire organization is fully committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally," Drummond said.

The Panthers began play in 1995 but have never delivered on Richardson's promise of winning a Super Bowl. They lost after the 2003 and 2015 seasons.

The Panthers are 10-4 entering the final two weeks of the regular season and well positioned for a playoff run.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, like most of the team's players, hadn't read the details of the report that came out just as the Panthers were preparing to play the Green Bay Packers.

Newton said Richardson has served in a "father-like role" for him since his arrival in Carolina seven years ago.

"For me I hope things don't alter my thinking of Mr. Richardson," Newton said. "But I do know that he has given me some things that I will forever be appreciative of."

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said after the game it is important to let the process play out, but vouched for Richardson's character.

"The only thing I can speak on is for what he has been to me as far as I'm concerned," Rivera said. "A lot of you know I had a house fire and he was there for (my wife) Stephanie and I. He was tremendous in supporting us. My brother passed and Mr. Richardson was there and helped me get to the funeral and back. I can't speak to anything other than that."

It has been a whirlwind year for the Panthers organization.

Team president Danny Morrison abruptly resigned in February. Richardson then fired general manager Dave Gettleman on the eve of training camp and replaced him with former general manager Marty Hurney on an interim basis. It was a surprising move considering Carolina made the playoffs three times in four seasons under Gettleman.