When the Eagles got the ball back with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter on Sunday, they were down eight points.
They needed a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Everyone knew it.
So for the next 1:16, as they drove down the field, Doug Pederson had time to come up with the perfect play call if the Eagles got in the end zone. Then the Eagles scored a touchdown and were down 30-28. A chance to tie the game.
And he called that?!?!
Here’s how Pederson’s post-game press conference went on Sunday evening:
Can you take us through the play call?
“Again, great opportunity right there to score, tie the football game,” Pederson said. “I can do better as far as getting the play in and giving our guys a better opportunity play-call-wise in that situation. But credit them; made the stop and just a little bit short.”
Why was that the play call?
“My decision to go with the play call, so that's on me.”
What did you think about the execution?
“Like I said, I can put our team in a better situation.”
At that point in the game, Carson Wentz had been basically running around for his life, picked up the Eagles’ offense and put the whole team on his back. And then Pederson didn’t even give him an opportunity to throw the ball with the game on the line.
Instead, he called a zone-read play — Jason Kelce said there was a pass option on it — behind a makeshift offensive line, with the backup running back. The play was doomed from the beginning and it ended up in a mini game of tug-o-war between Wentz and Boston Scott as two Ravens defenders swarmed.
Pederson took the blame, but that doesn’t give anyone solace.
To be clear, the Eagles didn’t lose on Sunday just because of that decision. But to climb back into that game after they were down 17-0, to watch Wentz play as tough as we’ve ever seen him play, to overcome all of those injuries … for it to end like that was such a letdown.
At least give Wentz a chance to tie it.
And to make matters worse, the call took too long to get in. The Eagles barely got the snap off, which might have affected the rhythm of the play.
“We probably did get a little later out of the huddle than we wanted, I think it’s a 20-second play clock, seems like it goes pretty quick on a two-point play, and so we have to be more urgent to get up to line and get our calls and get our checks,” Wentz said. “We had a scouted look there that we felt confident in. They made a good play, made life tough on us. It’s frustrating to come up short, but hats off to them.”
To not have a sense of urgency on a two-point conversion when everyone in the stadium knew on that whole drive that you had to go for two is simply inexplicable.
The Eagles on Sunday scored three touchdowns and went for two-point conversions after all three. They converted on the middle one but missed out on the one at the end of the game and on one midway through the third quarter. After J.J. Arcega-Whiteside dove on a Miles Sanders fumble in the end zone with 7:17 left in the third, the Eagles were down 11 and went for two. That failed.
“At that time, it just gives you the best probability to win the game,” Pederson said. “In that situation, you go for two and then you're down a touchdown and a field goal wins the game; obviously if things stay status quo.”
So the thinking there was that the defense was going to hold the Ravens to 17 points? Seems rather optimistic.
Last week, the Eagles were in a similar situation and made the same call. In the third quarter against the Steelers, they also went for two when they were down 11. So clearly the analytics tell Pederson to go for it in those situations. Last week, the Eagles converted. This week they didn’t.
Pederson on Sunday made a couple questionable decisions when it came to two separate two-point conversions. The Eagles lost by two.
The second of those decisions was even worse, though. It wasn’t the only reason the Eagles lost on Sunday, but it was a tough way to finish it off.