After all the drops and turnovers and costly penalties and mental errors, the Eagles still had a chance to walk out of their own stadium with a win over the Lions on Sunday afternoon.
They couldn’t get it done.
“We had the ball at the end of the game with a chance to win and we came up short,” Carson Wentz said. “It’s obviously frustrating but we have a quick turnaround, so we gotta look ourselves in the mirror, see where we can get better and come out flying on Thursday.”
The Eagles lost, 27-24, to the Lions at the Linc and are now 1-2 heading into a very tough game on the road in Green Bay on Thursday night. They could very well be looking at 1-3 (see observations).
It hurts even more because, down just three points, they were in a great situation to tie or win this game late.
Even without their top two receivers, it’s simply inexcusable for the Eagles to flounder on two late-game drives in good situations, at home, in a game they kind of needed to win.
On the eight plays in those last two drives, the Eagles gained a total of 13 yards and failed to pick up a single first down.
“I wouldn’t take any [play calls] back,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “We understood exactly what they were doing. They were putting pressure with two guys on Zach (Ertz) and trying to eliminate him. We had 1-on-1s across the board. Just great defense by them. It’s a good learning experience for our guys.”
• With 3:16 left and holding three timeouts, the Eagles got the ball at their own 20-yard line thanks to a wily play from Darren Sproles on the punt to let the ball bounce into the end zone.
First down: A 2-yard pass to Nelson Agholor
Second down: An incompletion batted at the line
Third down: A deep incompletion to Agholor
Fourth down: A 6-yard scramble from Wentz
Why go for it on fourth down from your own 22?
“Situational right there,” Pederson explained. “Just going ahead and going for it there. With the three timeouts, I could use them on defense obviously. We knew they were probably going to run the ball in that situation. Got them to kick the field goal. It worked in our favor, but we didn’t capitalize on the other end.”
It absolutely did work. Because Malcolm Jenkins blocked a field goal and even after a block in the back from Jenkins on the return, the Eagles got the ball at the 50-yard line with plenty of time. That’s an ideal situation; that’s what they want; that’s what any team wants.
• With 1:39 left and still with two timeouts, the Eagles had the ball at midfield. Plenty of time to win the game. Heck, they just needed to get into field goal range to have a chance to tie.
“We’re going to win it,” right tackle Lane Johnson said about the mindset of the team in the moment. “That’s always been our mantra. Anytime we get in that situation, you can feel the momentum was on our side.”
Instead, they failed to get a first down.
First down: Incompletion to Ertz
Second down: Incompletion to Mack Hollins
Third down: A 5-yard pass to Agholor
Fourth down: An OPI on Sproles after a 25-yard catch
Fourth down: A deep incompletion to JJ Arcega-Whiteside
“We got out there and we don’t convert,” Johnson said. “Game’s over. It’s tough.”
On that last 4th-and-15 heave, Arcega-Whiteside was the third read on the play, but Wentz got the ball to him. The rookie simply dropped a ball he should have caught to set up the Eagles with a 1st-and-goal with a chance to win. It was the seventh drop for the Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
If the Eagles could have eliminated one or two costly errors from Sunday’s game, they probably win. But there are a bunch of losing teams every Sunday who feel the same way. The Eagles dropped passes, committed penalties, coughed up the football, gave up a special teams touchdown.
Despite all that, they still could have won. They still should have won.
“Down the stretch, we just didn’t make the plays and execute the way we know we can when it really mattered,” Wentz said. “That’s frustrating, but we have to move on.”
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