When you win nine games in a row in the NFL, there’s bound to be a sense of invincibility. Not from the coaches mind you, but from the players and especially the fan base, there becomes an expectation each week.
The Eagles' last loss was Sept. 17. That’s a long time ago. The pre-Gabe Kapler era Phillies lost at home that day to Oakland. The Flyers were still 18 days away from their season opener. The Sixers would begin their training camp nine days later. And many high-profile Hollywood and media types, now disgraced, were still employed.
It’s remarkable really that in such a week-to-week league that any team, let alone one that lost nine of its last 13 a season ago, could put together such an impressive streak. So naturally, when said team loses in a game in which it was favored, there’s going to be an overreaction. The Eagles were not going 15-1.
Seattle is arguably the toughest place in the NFL to play. The Seahawks entered the game 7-4, on the outside looking in for a wild-card berth. They had already lost two home games. Despite major injuries to their secondary, this was going to be a tough game. This was a desperate, perennial playoff team at home that had to have this game. Factor in the Eagles now admitting they did not practice in the ensuing weeks the way they should have to be prepared for such a game and this is far from a panic-time loss.
Yes, the way the game played out was painful. But I view this as a wake-up call at the perfect time. Let it be Week 13 rather than a first-round playoff game. You can commit a ton of penalties against the Bears and win. Do it against a team like the Seahawks and it’s tough to overcome. You may get lucky and recover your own fumble in the end zone against the same hapless team but most times, especially in the red zone, it’s a killer. If Carson Wentz scores on that run to start the second half, it is a completely different game.
As much as fans hate to hear this, there are times you tip your hat and give props to the other guy. Russell Wilson was brilliant. He outplayed Wentz, plain and simple. The Eagles' secondary had its problems and things that must be cleaned up for the Rams, but when the opposing quarterback buys an extra four seconds on multiple plays, no defensive backs will be able to hold up.
Wentz did not play well in the first half. He showed you in the second half the combination of heart and skill that makes him an MVP candidate.
Doug Pederson has pushed every right button since the loss to the Chiefs. He’s been aggressive all season. That’s his team’s identity. His approach was tentative, perhaps because he knew his team wasn’t ready. Perhaps not. Jim Schwartz has been masterful all year dialing up the right defensive calls. He guessed wrong on several occasions. Whoever you want to blame, it didn’t work. It happens. Plays are missed and in-game mistakes are made. Learn from it and don’t let it happen again.
The Eagles ripped off nine straight wins after their last loss. But the 9-3 Rams this week will be a much sterner test than the dumpster-fire Giants in Week 3. My confidence in this team was not swayed by the loss to the Seahawks. Despite all the self-sabotage, the officiating, etc., the Eagles were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter, playing their C-game.
With the scorching hot Vikings having an identical 10-2 record and several other teams on the Birds’ tail in the NFC, this is a huge game this week. But it goes beyond standings. We’ll find a lot out about this team’s makeup this week in SoCal.
Based on what we’ve seen for a large majority of the season, the Seattle game will be the anomaly. Everything’s going to be alright.