Eagles

Nelson Agholor on nightmare vs. Seahawks: 'I got to get out of my own head'

Nelson Agholor on nightmare vs. Seahawks: 'I got to get out of my own head'

SEATTLE — It’s gotten this bad for Nelson Agholor.

He stood at his locker Sunday after the worst game of his career — which is really saying something — and basically psychoanalyzed himself for 10 minutes in front of a sea of TV cameras and microphones.

It was not easy to watch.

Agholor achieved the triple crown of wide receiver ineptitude in the Eagles’ 26-15 loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field (see Instant Replay).

He committed a penalty that negated a touchdown. He dropped a pass that would have gone for at least 40 yards and maybe a touchdown. And he finished with zero catches for zero yards (see 10 observations).

Agholor was already struggling terribly.

And now this.

This was a nightmare.

“I got to get out of my own head,” Agholor said at his locker. “Pressing so much and worried about so many things. I got to go out there and (just) try to catch the ball ... because I’m thinking too much and got so worried.

“And it’s such a selfish thing that I need to stop. I need to give my energy to my teammates and this organization and not myself. I’m feeling so much pressure to make every single (play). Just have fun.”

Agholor, a first-round pick last year, has just 50 catches for 547 yards and two touchdowns to show for his first 23 NFL games.

No full-time starting wide receiver in the NFL has fewer yards than Agholor over the last two seasons.

But this was bad even for him.

With six minutes left in the second quarter on a 2nd-and-6, Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz appeared to hook up on a 57-yard touchdown play. The PAT would have given the Eagles a 14-13 lead.

But Agholor was called for lining up improperly — not covering the line of scrimmage.

Head coach Doug Pederson was yelling for Agholor to step up, but he never heard him and never moved.

“I should have checked with the ref,” Agholor said. “It’s usually the first thing I do when I line up. But I was just focused on what the coverage was, and I just didn’t do it. 

“That was disappointing because that was a big play and a mental error like that you can’t have. And I know better than that.”

On the first play of the next drive, after a Seahawks field goal made it 16-9, Wentz spotted Agholor crossing from right to left, as open as he’ll ever get.

Wentz put the ball right where he wanted, but it bounced off Agholor’s hands to the ground.

And that was pretty much it for Agholor and for the Eagles.

Agholor was asked how he got to this point.

“I did it to myself,” he said. “I started getting in my own head and trying so hard to think about being perfect, and when miscues were there, I let it just eat at me.

“I need to continue to work better at letting things go and just playing hard and practicing hard and letting the way I practice translate into Sundays.”

Agholor caught a 35-yard touchdown pass against the Browns on opening day but doesn’t have a touchdown since.

Which means Russell Wilson has more TD catches than Agholor over the past nine weeks (see standout plays)

Agholor has three career receptions over 21 yards. He has never had more than 65 yards in a game. 

The last five games, he’s averaged just 16.6 yards per game. The last two games, he has seven receiving yards.

Agholor was asked if he realizes how upset Eagles fans are with him.

“I apologize for that,” he said. “It’s just something that’s tough. They love this team and I love this team and they want this team to win games and because I’m a part of this team, I have a responsibility to them.

“Right now, I need to find a way to let go of my mental block and focus just on the moments that I have.”

Agholor was asked if he needs a change of scenery and he didn’t hesitate to say no.

“Football is a tough game for tough people,” he said. “No matter who I play for or where I’m at, I need to focus on understanding that it’s tough.

“I’m meant for this. My parents raised me for this. My other coaches I had before this, Coach (Doug) Pederson, Coach (Greg) Lewis prepared me for this moment. And I need to embrace that and take advantage of that.”

Agholor said he’s confident he’ll get through this.

“When you get through the storms, things clear up, and I really believe it’s going to clear up,” he said. “I just have to continue to fight. One thing I can’t do is give up.”

Jeff Lurie tickled that Eagles are Super Bowl underdogs

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USA Today Images

Jeff Lurie tickled that Eagles are Super Bowl underdogs

Jeff Lurie just watched his team pull off an incredible 38-7 smackdown over the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. 

He stood on stage and was handed the George Halas Trophy and got to celebrate with coaches and players. 

There was just one more bit of good news to come. 

"Are we underdogs again?" Lurie asked. "Great! Great. Great. Somehow I'm not surprised. I think it's great. I always try to root for underdogs, so I think if we can — it comes with an understanding that this is a very proud group of players and coaches and you tell them no one thinks you're going to win, you're not good enough. 

"With all the hard work and success they've had, the best record in the NFL and all of that, and you tell them that. It doesn't register."

Yes, the Eagles are underdogs in Super Bowl LII against the Patriots. They're either 5½- or 6-point underdogs against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Pats. 

And it's really not hard to figure out why. 

The Eagles have overcome so many injuries all season. That's really what has made this run so improbable and special. Lurie said the adversity the Eagles have faced this season is "unprecedented." 

The last time Lurie spoke publicly, in early September, he was hesitant to say whether or not he thought the Eagles were a playoff team. He said it was "foolhardy" to make predictions. 

So has this season surprised him? 

"It surprised me because of all the injuries," Lurie said. "I thought going into this season we were going to be a very good football team. How good, that's hard to judge. 

"If you told me before September, 'No you're not going to have Jason Peters, you're not going to have Darren Sproles, you're not going to have Jordan Hicks, you're eventually not going to have Carson Wentz, you're going to lose your best special teams player in (Chris) Maragos — oh, by the way, your field goal kicker, you're not going to have him either' — it's a lot of body blows at that point. If you had said that, I would have told you, 'No, I don't think we'll make the playoffs.' Right? So the resiliency amongst this group is phenomenal."  

Lurie admitted it was tough when Wentz went down in Los Angeles in early December but said they brought in Nick Foles and paid him a lot of money for a reason. Lurie said he isn't surprised by how well Foles played on Sunday. 

The Super Bowl in two weeks will be a rematch of the last time the Eagles went to the game; they lost in 2005 to the Patriots. Lurie said the rematch doesn't add any extra motivation. 

So what does he think the Eagles' chances are? 

"We go into every game expecting to win," he said. "This team, we haven't lost many games and we have a very, very focused group of players and coaches. They are focused on each practice, each play at practice, each film session, and that's how you have to be. That's how you have to be to have a maximum performance and I expect they will do all — this is a team that works hard."

The pick-six that 'everyone down Broad Street heard'

The pick-six that 'everyone down Broad Street heard'

Patrick Robinson was talking a little trash with some Eagles teammates before the NFC Championship, so when he came up with an interception, he sort of had to back it up.

“Two hours before the game, I was like, 'When I get a pick, I'm not going out of bounds,'" Robinson said. "When I got it, I was running down the sideline, and I was like, 'No, I definitely can't go out of bounds,' so I just cut it back upfield.”

The end result was a 50-yard return for a touchdown — a play that served to energize the Eagles, the home crowd and an entire fan base during the 38-7 win over the Vikings (see Roob's observations).

“I don't think it just pumped up the offense," Nick Foles said. "I think it pumped up the whole City of Philadelphia. I think everyone down Broad Street heard that.”

Not only did Robinson's pick-six tie the score at seven in the first quarter, it shifted the momentum in the Eagles' favor permanently.

There was an uneasy feeling over Lincoln Financial Field after the Vikings marched straight down the field on a nine-play touchdown drive. A penalty on the ensuing Eagles punt improved Minnesota's field position, while a conversion on third-and-long moved the offense close to midfield. Nothing was going right.

"We had to make a play because they drove right down and scored," Chris Long said. "If we didn't have believe in ourselves and a little toughness, you might've thought, 'Oh, man, it's gonna be a long night.' I know some people probably thought that watching on TV or whatever, but we know what we're capable of as a defense.

“On us, on defense, we had to go out and make a big play and create a turnover.”

Long did exactly that. The 32-year-old pass rusher beat the protection and reached Vikings quarterback Case Keenum mid-throw. The result was a pass that came up woefully short of its intended target — what Robinson described as "an easy pick."

Far less simple was the return. Robinson began by running down the sideline with a convoy of Eagles defenders. Then, with precious little room to maneuver and a promise not to run out of bounds, he cut all the way across to the opposite side of the field, outracing the remaining Vikings players to the pylon.

It was a runback worthy of a certain Eagles All-Pro punt returner.

“Pat, man, he was unbelievable out there," Long said. "He was like Darren Sproles with the ball.”

Robinson was happy to play the part, at one point directing fellow cornerback Ronald Darby to throw a key block that ultimately allowed him to get into the end zone.

“A lot of times you get a pick, there's always one guy that slips through the pack and gets a guy who has the ball," Robinson said. "But this time, all our guys were running hard and trying to make blocks for me.”

For a team that's leaned on home-field advantage all season long, winning nine games in their own building, you better believe that play came at a critical juncture in the contest.

"It got the crowd into it," Malcolm Jenkins said. "Defensively, that first drive, we were kind of uncharacteristic in the run game, missing tackles, just kind of leaky and unsettled. Once we got that, we evened the score back up, it was, 'OK, that was our restart.'

“The crowd is into it. Our offense got going. Defense started getting stops. That was a huge play in the game.”