In a crucial point of the Eagles’ 37-19 loss to the Rams, Doug Pederson faced a tough decision.
Jake Elliott had just drilled a 33-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to cut the Rams’ lead to five points, but the Rams were called for a defensive offside. So Pederson had two options:
1. Decline the penalty and take the points
2. Accept it and go for a 4th-and-3 from the Rams’ 10-yard line
Pederson declined the penalty. He decided to keep the points and show some faith in his defense to get a stop. After all, Jim Schwartz’s unit held the Rams to just three points in the third quarter.
That decision burned him.
Because after the ensuing kickoff, it took the Rams just three plays to go 75 yards in 1:14 to push their lead to 12 points. That was pretty much it.
“Well, I mean, that's the thing. We had some momentum,” Pederson said. “We got the three points and I believe we got it to a five or six-point game at that particular time, something like that. Really felt like the momentum was on our side.
“Defense was eager and ready to go back out on the field. We just needed to find a way to get a stop at that particular time and get the offense out.
“That's the one thing we'll take a look at, and we've got to do better there. We've got to coach it better and play better in those situations to where everybody understands that you get one stop in those situations, and give it back to your offense, you've got a chance to take the lead on maybe the next possession.”
Good teams play complementary football. The offense helps the defense, the defense helps the offense and special teams helps both. Bad teams don’t. And the latest example came from the Eagles on Sunday.
Because there’s really no excuse for giving back a touchdown on three plays. Not after the Eagles’ offense just went on a 13-play, 60-yard drive that took 5:07 off the clock.
But the Eagles’ defense lacked discipline and completely erased any chance the team had to really get back in Sunday’s game. And it happened quickly.
On the first play, Darrell Henderson ran for 40 yards. The Eagles were out of their gaps and took terrible angles to the football. And after a 2-yard run, Jared Goff hit Tyler Higbee for a 28-yard touchdown as Nathan Gerry trailed in coverage.
Just like that, the game was out of reach.
“Not in our gaps. Gap responsibility,” Rodney McLeod said. “We all have to play that play. That’s what I’m talking about. It was nothing that the Rams did, it was all self-inflicted and us not being where we needed to be. We can’t give up explosive runs or explosive passes. They get the 40-yard run, obviously we get him down, and now our backs are against the wall, we’re trying to fight. …
“We just have to have good eyes and disciplined football. That’s what this game was today – we were the undisciplined team.”