Seemingly everything that could go wrong for the Eagles did in Seattle, but don’t let the blown calls and bad bounces distract you from the truth.
Carson Wentz cost the Eagles the game.
Not Doug Pederson. Not the officials. The Seahawks didn’t even beat the Eagles – not as much as Wentz lost it, anyway.
It feels as though the autopsy of Sunday night’s 24-10 defeat is focusing on all of the glancing blows instead of the very obvious mortal wound. Wentz left three touchdowns on the field.
The Eagles should’ve won, perhaps with ease. But Wentz overthrew Nelson Agholor on a likely touchdown, underthrew Agholor for another likely score, and fumbled one yard away from the goal line – one of his two turnovers in the contest.
Instead of coming away with 21 points on those three possessions, the Eagles came away with zero.
We can all count. Those points would’ve helped.
Did Pederson exacerbate the situation by calling the game too conservatively? Perhaps. The Eagles chose to punt and flip the field in situations where they often might go for it on fourth down. Pederson decided against throwing the challenge flag on a pivotal play in the fourth quarter – an illegal forward pass, as it turns out, that would’ve erased a third-down conversion on a scoring drive. In general, the Eagles looked hesitant to throw the ball down the field in the first half against a beleaguered Seattle secondary.
Yet, Pederson’s coaching job would’ve been enough to deliver an Eagles victory, had Wentz executed.
Did the officials play too heavy a hand in the outcome? Let’s be clear, the Eagles shot themselves in the foot on many if not all of the seven assessed penalties for 64 yards. Alshon Jeffery wiped away a touchdown with an unnecessary holding penalty, forcing the Eagles to settle for three instead, while the secondary helped the Seahawks move the ball up and down the field with numerous legitimate infractions. And, sure, the refs missed the illegal pass, but it’s not as if the game came down to one call.
Despite all the flags against the Eagles, and even the ones the zebras missed, Wentz could’ve had his team in position to win.
Russell Wilson was phenomenal, with a move for every would-be tackler that came his way, while Seattle’s receiving corps caught just about everything in sight. The Seahawks defense limited the Eagles ground attack to 3.8 yards per rushing attempt and put decent pressure on Wentz, registering 12 quarterback hits in the contest. Seattle was also limited to 310 yards of total offense, while the Eagles failed to take advantage on either of their two trips deep inside the red zone, coming away with three points.
The Seahawks are a quality football team, but were far from dominant. Wentz’s missed opportunities would’ve been the difference.
There is enough blame and bad luck to go around. Wentz’s fumble going out of the back of the end zone for a touchback was a ridiculously unfortunate bounce. Pederson’s game plan and inconsistent approach to fourth downs was curious, to say the least. The officials missed a close call that should’ve gone the Eagles’ way.
An ill-timed zero blitz by Jim Schwartz on 3rd-and-9 resulted in a 47-yard pass and set up the Seahawks for six. Jeffery’s penalty. Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s struggles at left tackle. The grabby, overmatched secondary getting burned repeatedly. The injury to Zach Ertz. The imposing atmosphere playing at Seattle.
Any way we dissect it, wherever we choose to point the finger, Wentz still missed those throws, still coughed up the football twice, and likely cost the Eagles no fewer than 21 points as a result.
Despite everything that went wrong, the Eagles probably would’ve won the game.
The Eagles, as a team, weren’t ready for primetime. Every player inside that locker room could do a better job. But if the Eagles are going to do real damage in the playoffs come January, Wentz can’t leave that many plays out there. That much was clear against a perennial Super Bowl contender in Seattle.