Eagles' defense comes up small when the team really needed it


Things were looking up.

Sure, the Eagles had a disastrous first half, but they had come back against the Giants before and they knew they had a good chance to do it again. After scoring just three points in the first half on Sunday, the Eagles’ offense finally got things going to start the third quarter. The Eagles put together an 84-yard touchdown drive to open the half with the big play coming on a 56-yard touchdown run from Boston Scott. And then they got the two-point conversion.

All of a sudden, the Eagles were down three with all the momentum going in the right direction.

So much for that.

Because on the ensuing possession, the Giants sliced through the Eagles’ defense, going 75 yards on six plays in 2:42 seconds to extend the lead back to double digits and, ultimately, put the game out of reach in a 27-17 loss for the Birds.

“That’s always the goal, to play complementary football and today we just didn’t get it done,” Brandon Graham said. “We dug ourself a hole. When we was about to go up, we couldn’t stop it. It was a credit to them, they made the plays today that helped them get this win.”

It was a familiar script for the 2020 Eagles.

Because through nine games — they’re 3-5-1 — the Eagles have yet to play a good game in all phases for 60 minutes. And just when it seems like things are going their way, there’s a letdown like the defense had on Sunday.


The Eagles are like a sinking ship and every time they plug a hole, another one springs up.

“For one, man, those are great catches. Super tight coverage,” Jalen Mills said. “This is the NFL. Those guys are going to catch the ball. It’s tough for sure. At the end of the day, we pride ourselves on being a dominant defense. And those catches right there, those definitely hurt for sure.”

OK, so Mills is right. The two big plays on that drive came on back-to-back snaps — a 27-yarder to Sterling Shepard and a 38-yarder to Golden Tate. Tight coverage but Daniel Jones made great passes and the receivers made great grabs.

It’s true that other players sometimes make plays. We’ve heard that before. Credit to them and all that.

But that’s not an excuse. Because the reason the Eagles’ defense didn’t any room for error was its own doing. It wasn’t magic that put them in a hole. It was the Eagles’ fault that they were playing from behind all day on Sunday.

The Eagles’ defense gave up 14 points in 15:03 to start the game. The Giants began the game with an 8-play, 85-yard drive and followed it up with a 13-play, 75-yard drive, both of which resulted in touchdowns.

This is a Giants team that came into Sunday averaging 18.7 points per game and the Eagles managed to give them 14 in just over a quarter.

“We gave them 14 early and we can’t do that, especially on defense,” Graham said. “We gotta strike first. When you’re playing a team two times, it’s all about who strike first, who came to play. In the beginning, it didn’t seem like we started fast and we didn’t. We came back, we put ourself back in the position to come back in the game but obviously we didn’t make the plays at the end to stop the bleeding.”

And then in the fourth quarter, after the Eagles managed to cut the lead to four points, Jones was able to hit Darius Slayton on a 40-yard bomb to put the Giants in field goal range and secure the win. Darius Slay had tight coverage and couldn’t make the play. It’s one he knows he needs to make.

But it would be unfair to point out just one play. Because despite a few stops, the Eagles’ defense had a pretty poor day overall.

They again let Daniel Jones run all over them — he finished with 64 yards and a long touchdown. He also had some big throws. And even Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris were able to pick up chunks of yardage on the ground against them.

By the end of the game, the Eagles had given up 382 yards and 27 total points to the NFL’s 31st-ranked offense.

For as much attention as Doug Pederson is getting — and rightfully so — for the Eagles’ lackluster performance on Sunday, let’s not lose sight of what their defense just did. Jim Schwartz doesn’t speak to reporters after games, so we’ll hear from him on Tuesday. I can’t wait to hear what he says.


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