Eagles

Eagles' offense 'just OK,' does most of damage on broken plays

Eagles' offense 'just OK,' does most of damage on broken plays

The new and improved Eagles' offense didn't earn many style points in its regular-season debut Sunday. Actually, Carson Wentz and company didn't rack up many points at all.

Don't let the 30-17 final score fool you. The Eagles' offense crossed the goal line only twice during the team's win over Washington on Sunday (see breakdown). Caleb Sturgis kicked three field goals and Fletcher Cox returned a fumble for a touchdown.

So more than half of the Eagles' scoring was via defense and special teams. In a sense, that's great. Those units are important, too.

From the standpoint that the Eagles invested a lot of draft picks and money in the quarterback position and offense as a whole over the past two offseasons, this was not the desired result.

"We made some plays. A lot of them were broken plays," head coach Doug Pederson said after the game of the Eagles' offense. "Just OK."

There were encouraging signs, specifically in the passing game. Wentz completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns, including a 58-yard pass to Nelson Agholor — one of those broken plays Pederson mentioned.

Washington's defense also registered two sacks and nine hits on the quarterback, as Wentz was frequently under pressure or held on to the football too long. There was no ground attack to speak of, either, with Eagles running backs averaging 2.6 yards per carry.

The Eagles totaled 356 yards on offense, but too often, drives stalled or ended in a turnover.

"We have to look at the field and make the corrections," Pederson said. "It wasn't perfect. Too many breakdowns in some crucial situations, some drive killers, whether it be a penalty or a sack. Those are things we have to take a look at, but all in all, we had some opportunities.

"There were some opportunities down the field, which is exciting, and those are things moving forward that we'll try address and we'll try to fix."

Wentz certainly tried to get his new toys involved, targeting Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith a combined 10 times, many of those deep shots. Each time, the pass was underthrown, or overthrown, more often than not turning the wide receiver into the defender.

Jeffery finished with three receptions for 38 yards with a two-point conversion in his Eagles debut. Smith had one catch for 30 yards. They were fourth and fifth on the team, respectively, in both targets and production.

"It was part of the way [Washington] played it," Wentz said. "Their defense took some things away on the outside at times.

"It was just all part of the way the offense worked today. At the same time, I'm not worried about it. Alshon and Torrey will get theirs."

There was some reason for optimism here, too. Those plays were there to be made if Wentz throws the ball a little bit farther or a little bit shorter, or if Jeffery comes up with the highlight-reel grab he tends to make look easy.

Even the mere threat of going over the top — an ability the Eagles' offense sorely lacked the last couple of seasons — can dictate the way an opponent defends.

"Coming into each game, you want to be able to do that," Pederson said. "You don't want the defense to play eight and nine in the box all the time.

"We're going to continue to look at that and find ways to get the ball down the field. We just missed on a couple today that could've been big hitters for us."

While it wasn't a big day in the box score for Jeffery or Smith, defenses still have to respect their ability, Wentz says.

"It opens things up," Wentz said. "We missed the first play of the game to Torrey. I overthrew him on another one. Nonetheless, teams see that and it will open some things up underneath."

Wentz pointed to the performance of tight end Zach Ertz — who finished with a team-high eight receptions for 93 yards Sunday — as an example of Jeffery's and Smith's presence.

"Just having those elements will continue to open things up for [running back Darren Sproles], for Ertz, for Nelson in the slot and some different things. It's a big part of our game."

The missed opportunities down the field, though, were only one aspect of the Eagles' struggles. The offensive line and running game looked out of sync in preseason action as well, and Wentz's issues with accuracy and holding on to the ball too long go back to his rookie year.

One reasonable explanation for everything is the starters played little during the preseason, and the Eagles need time to build a chemistry. Left tackle Jason Peters also exited the game with a groin injury.

Then again, maybe there's no need to make excuses at all. After all, the Eagles did win.

"We made enough plays to win," Wentz said. "Are there things that we left on the field? Totally. We made some mistakes — the turnovers, some different things here and there.

"We have to get those fixed, but we made enough plays to win, so we're going to enjoy that."

Once Pederson gets a hold of the film, something tells me the Eagles won't be enjoying this one for too long.

Raiders beat Chiefs in thriller with touchdown on final play

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Raiders beat Chiefs in thriller with touchdown on final play

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Wins have been so hard to come by for the Oakland Raiders that it took three tries at the final play for them finally to pull this one out and possibly save their season.

Derek Carr threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on the final play after the game was extended by two straight defensive holding calls and the Raiders snapped a four-game losing streak with a 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

"We didn't give up," Crabtree said. "We got a team full of fighters. We believe. ... No matter how hard the game was, we believed. We came out with the W and I'm excited. It's a good way to win, a great way to win."

With their season on the line following the recent slump, Carr led an 85-yard touchdown drive in the final 2:25 to give the Raiders (3-4) the thrilling comeback in a game they trailed by nine points heading into the fourth quarter.

Carr finished 29 for 52 for 417 yards and three touchdowns, with Amari Cooper catching 11 passes for 210 yards and two of the scores. The Raiders had struggled to get the ball downfield while being held to 17 or fewer points in four straight games but Carr repeatedly beat the Chiefs with deep passes.

"No. 4 kept making plays," coach Jack Del Rio said. "This is a special, special win."

Alex Smith threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns but it wasn't enough for the Chiefs (5-2). They lost consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 11-18, 2015, and had their 12-game winning streak in the AFC West snapped in a thrilling finish.

"I've never been part of a game that came down so dramatic," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "But, still had a chance to win. Period. Just have to make a play. One play. One play."

The Raiders had an apparent go-ahead touchdown pass to Jared Cook with 18 seconds left overturned when replay ruled he was down at the 1. An offensive pass interference on Crabtree wiped out another touchdown on the next play.

But holding calls on Ron Parker and Eric Murray set the stage for the final play. Carr hit Crabtree in the front corner of the end zone to tie it at 30. Giorgio Tavecchio won it with the extra point , setting off a celebration on a wild night that included Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch getting ejected in the second quarter for shoving an official.

Hot tempers
The game took an odd turn midway through the second quarter after Kansas City's Marcus Peters hit Carr late, angering the Raiders. Offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn confronted Peters and Lynch sprinted off the Oakland sideline to join the fray. Lynch, a close friend of Peters, ended up shoving line judge Julian Mapp and getting ejected . Peters also was called for a personal foul on the play. Lynch congratulated his teammates in the locker room after the game but didn't speak to reporters.

"I was disappointed he ran out because I knew we had a 15-yard penalty and we'd be in good shape," Del Rio said.

Long drive
After Marquette King pinned the Chiefs at their own 1 with a perfect punt early in the second quarter, Kansas City needed little time to turn the momentum. Smith hit Demarcus Robinson on a 33-yard pass on the first play of the drive. After a short run, Tyreek Hill beat David Amerson for a 64-yard touchdown pass that gave the Chiefs their first 99-yard drive since doing it Dec. 3, 2006, against Cleveland.

Deep connection
Carr had not connected on a single deep ball to Amari Cooper all season before the two teamed twice for long TDs in the opening quarter. On the first, Cooper appeared to push Terrance Mitchell but the officials picked up the flag and gave Cooper the 38-yard TD . Later in the quarter Carr and Cooper connected on a 45-yard score, making Cooper the first Raiders receiver with two TD catches in the first quarter since Mervyn Fernandez in 1989.

Kicking woes
The Raiders were hurt last week when a bad snap by Jon Condo led to a missed extra point by Giorgio Tavecchio in a 17-16 loss to the Chargers. That was Tavecchio's first missed kick of any kind this season but he then had a 53-yarder blocked and missed a 45-yarder wide left in the second quarter. Tavecchio also had a false start on an extra point in the third quarter.

Up next
Chiefs: Host Denver on Oct. 30.

Raiders: Visit Buffalo on Oct. 29.

Carson Wentz feels 5-1 Eagles 'just wired different this year'

Carson Wentz feels 5-1 Eagles 'just wired different this year'

There's something special going on around here, and Carson Wentz isn't afraid to say it.

“We’re made different this year," Wentz said after practice Thursday. "We have a different character makeup in that locker room, and nobody’s going to ever settle for anything less than greatness. So we’re going to go out there every day and attack it.”

The Eagles, 5-1, go for their fifth straight win Monday night against the Redskins, who they beat on opening day at FedEx Field.

Wentz, in only his second season, has elbowed his way into the NFL MVP conversation (see story). His emergence as the unquestioned leader of this team has mirrored the team's emergence as one of the NFL's elite teams.

Wentz spoke Thursday about how he sensed something different, something special, as far back as spring workouts.

“You could just see it, even going back to OTAs," he said. "You could see the competitive nature, even in practice. You couldn’t wear pads. You couldn’t even press cover outside. You could just see the competitive nature.

"And then through training camp, it just kept getting elevated even more. You could just see it from the leadership on down. We’re just wired different this year.”

When Wentz tells his teammates to strive for greatness, they listen, because here's a kid who in just 22 career games has established himself as one of the NFL's best young quarterbacks. He has 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions this year and has posted a passer rating of 90 or higher in five of six games.

“It’s something that we always strive for," Wentz said. "And really, in everything we do in life, you strive for greatness.

"When we’re sitting where we’re at right now, we can just never let that slip. We can never let that slip from our preparation in the film room, the meeting room, the weight room, in practice, so that’s just something I feel like we have to always keep focusing on.

"Never settle, never settle, and just keep striving for that greatness.”

Wentz said he didn't feel anything lacking last year, when the Eagles went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for a third straight year.

It's just that head coach Doug Pederson is in Year 2, coordinators Frank Reich and Jim Schwartz are in Year 2 and Wentz is in Year 2.

The whole program is in Year 2 and there's a confidence, an attitude, a swagger that was nowhere to be found last year or really the last few years.

“I think it was just a natural growth," Wentz said. "You go back and look at last season again. We were so close in so many of those ballgames but [it's] just the natural growth that’s taken place both from coach and just really all of us being in this together and having a year under our belt."