The Eagles did something on Sunday afternoon that’s pretty hard to do.
They didn’t convert on a single third down.
By the end of their 27-17 loss to the Giants, the Eagles were 0-for-9 on third downs. It was the first time since Nov. 7, 2004 that the Eagles didn’t convert a third-down.
Since 1991 (as far back as Stathead’s third-down data goes) NFL teams are 22-89 without converting on a single third down situation. Sunday was just the second time since that data is available that the Eagles failed to convert on a third down.
So what happened?
“Yeah, too many third-and-longs,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “It’s hard to overcome and we’ve got to do better on first and second down. Too many third-and-longs.”
But then it was pointed out to Pederson that the Eagles’ first three third-down situations on Sunday were 3rd-and-1, 3rd-and-3 and 3rd-and-1 and the Eagles failed on all of them too.
“We just need to execute a little better in those situations,” Pederson said. “Honestly, I hate to keep using this phrase, but I’ve got to take a look at it and see. I can probably answer that question better tomorrow to see if there was any breakdown in execution or whatever it is. But you’re right, when you get in those situations, you need to convert.”
But Pederson was right about the long third-down attempts too. After the first three third-down tries, the average length of the other three attempts was 3rd-and-12.33 yards.
Carson Wentz on third downs was 0-for-6 and was sacked twice.
Sunday’s game, by the way, was the Eagles’ fourth straight game converting on fewer than 40% of their third downs. They hadn’t done that since 2016.
Pederson said he needed to go back and look at it, but we can do that too. Let’s look at all nine failed third-down attempts:
Situation: 3rd-and-1 from Eagles’ 47-yard line; 9:31 left in the first
On this one, Wentz threw to Dallas Goedert but he overthrew the 6-foot-5 tight end, who couldn’t sky to bring it down. Not a good throw but also a ball that probably should have been caught despite the high throw and tight coverage.
Situation: 3rd-and-3 from Giants’ 22-yard line; 6:36 left in the first
This was a great design from the Eagles to run a little pick play to get Jalen Reagor open. Give credit to James Bradberry on this play to avoid that pick, recover and break up the pass. But also too much hesitation from Wentz. He pumps before the throw but if he releases on time, the Eagles probably pick up the first down instead of settling for a field goal on the next play.
Situation: 3rd-and-1 from Giants’ 41-yard line; 12:46 left in the second
This one was just kind of a wacky play. Wentz takes a sack after he gets stepped on by his offensive lineman. It looks like Jason Kelce’s right foot came back and got Wentz.
Situation: 3rd-and-11 from the 50-yard line; 6:29 left in the second
This play was set up by an incompletion and then a negative Miles Sanders run on second down. The deep ball on the third-down play falls incomplete. It was overthrown but I wonder if Travis Fulgham could have drawn a DPI if he ran through it a little more because there was contact.
Situation: 3rd-and-14 from Eagles’ 7-yard line: 57 seconds left in second
The Eagles were already facing a 3rd-and-9 after an incompletion and a low snap from Kelce. But then Fulgham was called for a false start to put them into a 3rd-and-14 situation.
This basically became a “punt” throw from Wentz into double coverage. Reagor wanted the call there and but he didn’t do a very good job of tracking the ball and wasn’t in a position to make a play.
Situation: 3rd-and-11 from Eagles’ 29-yard line; 1:19 left in third
The Eagles had their offense cooking at this point. They were coming off two touchdown drives earlier in the quarter and Sanders broke off a 13-yard run to start this drive. But on the ensuing first down, Wentz threw an incompletion. On second down, the Eagles had Jalen Hurts in there for some reason and he lost a yard. So it set up a 3rd-and-11. Wentz didn’t like what he saw and checked it down to Greg Ward. It looked like everything else was covered.
Situation: 3rd-and-18 from Eagles’ 10-yard line; 11:51 left in fourth
This awful situation was set up by another low snap from Kelce that resulted in an 8-yard sack on first down. An incompletion on second down set up the coward’s draw on third. I actually like the design, though. They tried to open a gap by putting Reagor in motion but the Giants didn’t bite.
Situation: 3rd-and-10 from Giants’ 36-yard line; 5:01 left in fourth
The Eagles were moving the ball on this drive but then they sputtered. They got the ball from their 25 to the Giants’ 36 on four plays with a penalty. But on first down, Sanders was stuffed. Second down, incompletion.
Third down … This is actually a really impressive throw from Wentz. One of his best from the day. Yes, it’s behind Fulgham but that’s where it needed to be between two defenders. Fulgham probably should have had it. It’s also worth noting this was four-down territory and the Eagles then failed on fourth. Perhaps a third-down play where they didn’t go for it all might have worked better.
Situation: 3rd-and-10 from Eagles’ 37-yard line: 2:52 left in the fourth
The game was pretty much over at this point but any hope the Eagles had evaporated when Wentz took this sack.
For the sake of fairness, the Eagles did draw a defensive pass interference on a 3rd-and-4 in the second quarter but that doesn’t count as a play and therefore doesn’t count as a third-down conversion.
And because that one doesn’t count, the Eagles ended up having a historically bad day on third downs.