Eagles

Eagles

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE — It's been a while. About 2½ months since the Eagles experienced this.

The Eagles, who've been pushing teams around for the last couple months, faced an elite opponent for the first time since beating the Panthers in Week 6 and got pushed around Sunday night.

The Seahawks built a 17-3 lead in the third quarter and then coasted to a 24-10 win over the Eagles at CenturyLink Field (see breakdown).

Nine-game winning streak? Over. Undefeated record vs. the NFC? Over. Firm grasp of the No. 1 seed? Over … for now.

After the Eagles' first loss since Sept. 17, let's get right to tonight's 10 Observations.

1. I felt like this game was over early. The Seahawks were really the more physical, more dominating team on both sides of the ball in the first half, and just took the game to the Eagles. This is the sort of opponent the Eagles haven't seen lately — a cocky, confident bunch with a lot of guys who won a Super Bowl four years ago. They've got some swagger and attitude, and they don't play around. They really were the aggressor on both sides of the football in building that 17-3 lead, and it felt like the Eagles took a lot of punches to the midsection before they finally kind of made the game a level playing field and started fighting back. By then it was too late. You don't come back from 14 points down to the Seahawks in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. The Eagles have been bullying teams all year. Sunday night, they got bullied. Good lesson. Can't let it happen again.

 

2. Doug Pederson has been brilliant calling plays this year, finding a rhythm, being aggressive, balancing run and pass. But I just didn’t like the concept of the offense Sunday night. You don’t beat a team like the Seahawks on the road running the ball, and I get that he was trying to protect Carson Wentz from Seattle’s pass rush, but the first-half run-pass ratio was 19 runs and 13 passes, and the Eagles got some yards on the ground but only three points. The Eagles started moving the ball through the air in the second half — Wentz had more passing yards on the first drive than in the entire first half — but then his fumble out of bounds gave the Seahawks the ball. They went down the field and scored, and once it was 17-3 the Eagles pretty much had to pass. I just feel like against a team like Seattle the Eagles needed to be aggressive from the jump, and they weren't.

3. But I'll tell you what. Wentz keeps proving how special he is, and it seems like every week he does it in a different way. Wentz got battered early Sunday night. He took a lot of huge hits. He had a finger on his right (throwing) hand wrapped up on the bench with some sort of apparent injury. He struggled to find time to throw and forced a few balls. He fumbled out of the end zone when he was about to score. He missed open guys. He struggled for much of the game like we haven’t seen him struggle in a long time. You look up, and it’s 17-3 Seahawks in a building where they’re 37-8 over the last six years and the crowd is going nuts and you’re just thinking, “You know what? This just isn’t Carson’s day.” And then he busts out of a sure sack for a 51-yard miracle down the right sideline to Nelson Agholor and then a spectacular 27-yard TD across the field to Agholor and the Eagles are back in the game, and you realize just how special this kid is. With everything conspiring against him, he still threw for 348 yards, completed 64 percent of his passes, threw one TD and one interception - to Eagles castoff Byron Maxwell - and finished with a respectable passer rating of 86.2. Heck, he threw for over 300 yards in the second half alone. The Eagles fell short Sunday, but I like the fight this kid has. He may go down, but he doesn't go down quietly.

4. You can make a case either way, but I didn’t like the punt on 4th-and-2 from just inside midfield with 18 seconds left in the first half. Doug has been aggressive all year, and to beat a good team in their own building you have to be aggressive. The Seahawks are missing half their secondary. You should be able to get two yards and then try to get into Jake Elliott range, which really was only a few yards away. If you don’t get it, the Seahawks still need 22 yards in, what, maybe 13 seconds, to get within range for a 50-yarder — which is the longest field goal Blair Walsh has made the last two years. That punt had a vague sense of playing-not-to-lose, and that's not how the Eagles got to 10-1.

 

5. It’s really hard to question Jim Schwartz right now, but I didn’t get the zero blitz on the play that turned into Russell Wilson’s 47-yarder to Doug Baldwin down to the 1-yard-line. That play led to the Seahawks' TD that turned a 10-3 lead into a 17-3 lead. The Eagles were getting tremendous pressure the whole game, and Wilson is so good at finding his hot receiver when he’s blitzed. Again, tough to second guess Schwartz, who’s been phenomenal this year. But it was 3rd-and-10 near midfield, your pressure from the front four has been relentless, and that really turned into the pivotal play in the game.

6. We haven't seen the Eagles' secondary torched like this in a long time. Wilson was brilliant Sunday, doing exactly what Schwartz said he's most dangerous at - making plays on the run, especially after rolling backward, deep behind the line of scrimmage, and then reversing field and either running or throwing on the move. Wilson finished 20-for-31 for 227 yards with three TDs and no interceptions, and his 118.6 passer rating is the highest against the Eagles since Matt Stafford's 135.0 in Detroit last year. Good measuring stick game. The Eagles' pass defense has been so effective lately, but Wilson is just a uniquely talented quarterback, and now this secondary knows exactly where it stands. The two QBs who've beaten them -- Alex Smith and Wilson -- are both guys who can run and throw. If the Eagles are going to make a deep playoff run, they're going to have to beat some really good quarterbacks. They're going to have to play better than they did Sunday night.

7. Brandon Graham played out of his mind Sunday night. Playing on the same field as Earl Thomas, who eight years ago the Eagles bypassed in the draft to take Graham, he was an absolute beast. He picked up his career-high eighth sack of the year and got constant pressure on Wilson, forcing several errant passes and rushed passes, including one in the third quarter that should have been a pass interference. I thought Graham was the Eagles' best player Sunday night.

8. One quick note on Halapoulivaati Vaitai: He seems to struggle from time to time early in games, and Sunday night he sure did. He had a very tough first quarter. But he generally seems to bounce back, and he did again this time. Vaitai needs to figure out how to start off more effectively, but it is encouraging that he's able to figure things out and play better as the game goes along.

 

9. His performance will probably go unnoticed because the Eagles lost, but Agholor had a career game with seven catches for 141 yards. That's the most yards by an Eagles wide receiver since Jordan Matthews had a 159-yard game against Arizona in 2015, and the second-most yards anybody has had against the Seahawks this year -- DeAndre Hopkins had a 224-yard game in October. Last year, Agholor was so bad against the Seahawks he got benched the next week. That's how far this kid has come. Agholor is now sitting with 40 catches and 599 yards, both career highs with four games left. Good for him. He's overcome a lot and really become a weapon.

10. Finally, this: Big point now for the Eagles now. They're spending the week in Los Angeles, they have another very good opponent waiting for them in the Rams, and with the Vikings, Rams and Saints all in hot pursuit, the Eagles can’t afford too many more losses if they're going to snag a first-round bye, in particular the No. 1 seed. Big test. Big moment. There's a ton at stake here. The Eagles have answered all the big tests they've faced this year. They answered their only previous loss with nine straight wins. Let's see how they respond to this one. I have a hunch they'll respond positively.