TAMPA — Malcolm Jenkins blamed himself for the first one: “I just vacated the post. Inexcusable mistake.”
Jalen Mills blamed himself, too: “Good throw, good catch, touchdown. Just have to be better in coverage.”
Ronald Darby blamed himself for the second one: “It was just a bad play. A missed tackle. Get it fixed and move on to next week.”
Two plays. Ballgame.
Two plays defined the Eagles’ 27-21 loss to the Bucs Sunday at Raymond James Stadium (see observations).
Two plays the Eagles can’t allow to happen.
Ryan Fitzpatrick 75 yards to DeSean Jackson on the first play of the game, and Fitz’s 75-yarder to O.J. Howard late in the second quarter.
“That’s 14 points, those two plays,” Mills said. “We take those away, we win the ballgame.”
Their loss to the Bucs Sunday was the first game in franchise history the Eagles have allowed two 75-yard touchdown passes before halftime.
“It’s hard on any defense when teams are getting explosives,” Rodney McLeod said. “We can’t win like that. Can’t put ourselves in that situation.”
Those two long TDs equaled the total number of 75-yard touchdowns the Eagles allowed in their previous 23 games going back to late in the 2016 season.
This is totally out of character.
The Eagles usually get enough pressure that quarterbacks don’t have time to crank up deep balls. And they have talented albeit young corners and smart safeties.
Heck, the Eagles only allowed nine touchdown passes longer than 20 yards in 19 games all last year!
But this was just a combination of two plays where the Bucs executed at a high level and the Eagles didn’t.
“We killed ourselves,” Darby said. “It’s nothing they did, it’s what we did to ourselves.”
It’s going to be tough for any offense to march 80 yards in 12 plays against the Eagles.
So teams are going to take shots. Especially teams that have the kind of firepower the Bucs have.
“It’s disappointing, it’s frustrating,” Jenkins said. “But in no way do we feel like it’s an emergency. I just can’t be stupid and vacate the post and we’ve just got to get a guy on the ground.
“It’s that simple.”
Only once in Eagles history had they allowed two 75-yard TDs in the same game. That was Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown in that 24-20 loss in Arizona in 2014.
“We take those plays away — even if they’re not touchdowns — and we find a way to get ‘em on the ground and they’re still big plays? We live to fight another down,” Jenkins said.
“So that’s really the most frustrating part of it, that those two big plays turned into points.
“Big plays will happen, but those can’t go for touchdowns. Not that quick. They’ve got to be able to earn their way down the field.”
The Eagles on Sunday became the first team in three years to allow two 75-yard TDs in a first half. Jay Cutler and the Bears hit two in the first half against the Rams in 2015.
Losing QB in that game: Nick Foles.
“It happens,” Nigel Bradham said. “It’s football. It’s not like we weren’t in position. If we weren’t in position that would be a problem. But we were. But I believe in our guys to make those plays.”
When a team goes 75 yards in one play, that’s just so hard to overcome mentally. Tough to bounce back from.
But I wouldn’t be shocked if the Eagles don’t allow another deep ball over the top again this year.
This is a sound defense. A talented defense. One game isn’t enough for me to believe this is who they are.