Eagles

Instant Replay: Seahawks 26, Eagles 15

Instant Replay: Seahawks 26, Eagles 15

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE – It would have been hard enough for the Eagles to win on Sunday even if they played the perfect game in Seattle.

It was impossible to win with the way they played.

Brandon Graham jumped offsides, Jalen Mills missed a tackle and Nelson Agholor didn’t line up on the line of scrimmage. The list of mistakes goes on.

All of that was too much to overcome against one of the best teams in the NFL, as the Eagles lost, 26-15, to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sunday afternoon.

With the loss, the Eagles dropped to .500 on the season at 5-5. The Seahawks improved to 7-2-1. The Seahawks improved to 32-5 at home since 2012.

The Eagles are now 0-5 when they give up 20-plus points this season and 5-0 when they don’t.

Despite all the Eagles’ mistakes in the first half, they were down just 16-7 heading into the second half. But the Eagles lost their top two running backs and the Seahawks cruised to a victory.

The Seahawks ended up outgaining the Eagles 439-308 on the afternoon. The Eagles added a fourth-quarter touchdown, but couldn’t get any closer.

Turning point
The Eagles scored a 57-yard touchdown that would have given them the lead in the second quarter, but Agholor wasn’t lined up on the line of scrimmage. The Eagles were called for an illegal formation and the play was called back.

On the very next series, the Eagles – as they like to do – went back to Agholor. He was all alone in the middle of the field for what should have been a first down, but he dropped the ball.

Key stat
With his touchdown catch on a trick play in the third quarter, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has the same number of receiving touchdowns as Agholor this season. Agholor hasn’t had one since Week 1.

First half
The Eagles had chances in the first half but went into the locker room down 16-7 after a few costly mistakes.

The biggest was the illegal formation that negated a 57-yard touchdown that would have given the Eagles a 14-13 lead. On the ensuing drive, the Seahawks picked up a field goal.

On the drive before the Agholor penalty, the Seahawks went on a 10-play, 92-yard drive that was capped by a 35-yard touchdown catch by Jimmy Graham. Graham caught the ball with Jaylen Watkins draped on him, but it didn't matter. The play before the touchdown, Brandon Graham was flagged for being offside. Even earlier in the drive, the Seahawks had a 2nd-and-20 from their own 10-yard line and converted on third down.

The Seahawks kicked off the scoring with a big 72-yard run from rookie C.J. Prosise, but after the Seahawks missed the extra point, the Eagles responded with a 13-play, 68-yard drive that spanned 7:35. It was their longest drive (plays and time) of the season. Ertz caught his first touchdown pass of the season to cap off the drive.

The Seahawks outgained the Eagles, 300-146, in the first half.

Offensive stud
Ertz picked up his first touchdown of the season and should have had another had it not been for a bonehead penalty.

Offensive dud
Agholor. The penalty, the drop. Just an awful day for the former first-round pick.

Defensive stud
Nolan Carroll had a huge highlight-reel hit in the first half.

Defensive dud
Rookie Jalen Mills didn’t have his best game. He had a rough day in coverage and missed a tackle on the long touchdown run by Prosise.

Injury report
Ryan Mathews (knee) and Darren Sproles (ribs) were both injured in the first half and did not return for the second half. Jason Peters (left forearm) left briefly but returned. Halapoulivaati Vaitai left in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury.

Jordan Matthews (back) and Zach Ertz (hamstring) were both questionable coming into the game, but were active. Safety Terrence Brooks (hamstring) did not play.

Up next
The Eagles will be home next weekend for a Monday Night Football game against the Packers. Then they’ll travel to Cincinnati the following weekend.

Brandon Graham stays ready in boxing ring, takes 'important step' for Eagles' 2018 opener

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Brandon Graham stays ready in boxing ring, takes 'important step' for Eagles' 2018 opener

In February, Brandon Graham won a ring. In the six months since he’s gotten in one.

Graham said Monday he’s been doing some sparring as he rehabs from postseason ankle surgery.

Graham, who had a career-high 9½ sacks last year, returned to practice Monday after spending the last three weeks on the Eagles' physically unable to play reserve list (see story).

“Boxing is real good, especially with using my hands,” he said. “I always do that during the offseason. Always focus on my hands, because as a D-lineman that’s our goal, you’ve got to use your hands in everything.

“So while I’ve been hurt I’ve just been trying to work on my coordination and make sure everything stays tight.”

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Graham will be limited for a while here as he works off the rust.

"There are steps he's got to take along the way,” Schwartz said. “This is an important step getting back on to practice with his teammates. Probably be limited to just some individual stuff and we'll sort of work him along. But it is great to have him back.”

Graham won’t play against the Browns Thursday night and almost certainly won’t play against the Jets in the preseason finale a week later.

All he’s got on his mind is the Falcons on Sept. 6.

“All I can say is when I do start hitting people, I’m going to be so sore, but then you’ve got to work through that soreness like we always do and eventually that starts to become your armor and you build on that,” he said.

“I’m excited. Just excited to be back out there with the boys. It’s been hard standing back because you don’t want to feel behind. I don’t feel like I’m behind but they got a lot more reps than I got, so I’m just trying to catch up.

“Everybody knows when it’s time to go it’s going to be time to go. I’m just excited. We’re all excited because it’s the first step.”

Graham, who had the legendary strip-sack of Tom Brady in the closing minutes of the Super Bowl, said his ankle is fine, it’s just a matter of conditioning at this point.

Week 1?

“I’m not going to make any promises, but I’m working my butt off every day,” he said. “Putting money in the bank every day.”

Graham has missed only one game since opening day of 2012, and that was the meaningless season-ender last year against the Cowboys.

Only four defensive ends — Jerry Hughes, Cameron Jordan, Julius Peppers and Ndamukong Suh — have played more games (96, obviously) over the last five seasons.

“I’m really just focused on Week 1 right now and focus on today and how everything goes,” said Graham, now 30.

“I feel like I can get myself ready for Week 1, for sure, because I’m already doing two-a-days and sometimes two-a-days. It’s on me to make sure I continue to get my shape up and that’s just running and doing drills and pushing and pulling on people.

“I think as I continue to feel better, I’m going to continue to go harder. I’m just excited because now I can start counting down the days. I’ve got 17 days to get right.”

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Tackling new helmet rule a challenge for Jim Schwartz, Eagles

Tackling new helmet rule a challenge for Jim Schwartz, Eagles

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is concerned enough about the NFL's new rule banning tacklers from lowering their head to initiate contact that he held a defensive meeting Monday specifically so his guys could study film of exactly how the league is calling the new rule.

Through two preseason weekends, the Eagles have been cited a league-high five times for personal fouls for lowering the head.

“The instructions we’ve given guys is, try not to lower your head and try to take your head out of it, and I think our guys are trying to do that,” Schwartz said.

“I can confidently say we don’t have any guys that are trying to play outside the bounds. We don’t have any guys that are head hunting, that are being selfish. They’re trying to play within the rules.

“I think you can see Nigel [Bradham’s] play, he’s trying to get his head out. I think even Rodney [McLeod’s] play, he’s trying to get his head across and get it out. The problem is they’re dealing with world-class athletes who are moving targets. A little bit easier said than done. 

“And those fouls have hurt us in those first couple preseason games and we’ve got to get to a point where they don’t hurt us in the regular season.”

Cornerback Sidney Jones was called for a lowering-the-head penalty on Steelers receiver Damoun Patterson in the preseason opener, and tight end Richard Rodgers was also cited in the opener for an illegal hit on Justin Thomas on a punt return.

Last Thursday night, McLeod was called for a hit on running back James White, Bradham was cited for a hit on receiver Julian Edelman and safety Jeremy Reaves was penalized for a hit on running back Mike Gillislee.

“It’s going to be very important work over the next couple weeks, not just learning from our own mistakes but learning from other teams,” Schwartz said.

“There’s some other good feedback. We get clips from the league that show not just penalties that were called but penalties that should have been called. So there is a learning process.”

Eagles veteran defensive end Brandon Graham said it’s going to be tough to eliminate these penalties simply because the game moves so fast, and even if your intention is to use perfect form tackling, it doesn’t always end up that way.

“It’s tough because sometimes the runner’s ducking his head just as much as you’re ducking,” he said. “But they just don’t want to see the crown of your head hitting his crown or hitting his facemask.

“Just really try to keep your eyes up. You’re going to get ran over sometimes. Hey, you’re going to get ran over. But some people do like to use the crown of their head and it’s just to protect them because you don’t want to be paralyzed from hitting someone the wrong way. 

"So I try to keep my face up and hit with my facemask and this will force people to start doing stuff like that.”

One challenge Schwartz noted is getting his guys to play hard, fast and aggressive without thinking about how they’re tackling.

“You want to play fast,” he said. “You want to play confidently on the field. But any time there’s something new, there is going to be an adjustment. 

“It’s a difficult thing. We're trying our best to work through it, but it does add a layer of difficulty to what we're trying to do.”

According to penalty stats on NFLgsis, an official league statistical web site, there have been 48 lowering-the-head penalties called in 32 preseason games or 1½ per game.

Eight of the 32 teams haven’t been cited at all. The Eagles and Titans have been called a league-high five times each.

“It’s real sensitive right now, but as professionals, we’re going to adjust,” Graham said.

“They want to make it an emphasis in preseason, and I’m happy it didn’t cost us a real game. We’ve just got to continue to keep our head out of things and I think we’ll make that adjustment."

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