Soul Searching: Eagles Have to Take a Long Look At Themselves During Bye Week

15 Oct

Eagles Safety Nate Allen (29) is in hot pursuit of Detroit Lions wide receiver Stefan Logan in Sunday’s game at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles Blow 10-point lead in overtime Loss to Detroit

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

The Eagles 26-23 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday was a reflection of everything that has bothered this team since the start of the season.  All of this team’s shortcomings certainly came to fruition in a game they had no business losing.

With five-minutes, 18 seconds left in the game, the Eagles had a 23-13 lead after a 70-yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick to Jeremy Maclin. It looked like the Eagles were on their way to victory.

“Honestly, I know our football team and I know how good we are,” Vick said. “After the touchdown to Maclin, I thought it was a great opportunity and a great position for us to be in to win the game.  Before I knew it, we were in a fight. It’s tough.”

But after slowing down Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the Lions offense throughout much of the game, the defense allowed the Lions to score on their final three possessions—the last 10 in regulation and the final three in overtime on a 45-yard game-winning field goal by Jason Hanson.

“This is pretty bad,” said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. “It was a big game for us having lost last week and then heading to a bye week. Our schedule only gets tougher from here, so this was a big loss. This one really hurts.”

The biggest criticism of the Eagles defense this season was their inability to put pressure on the quarterback and get a sack when they need it. Against a struggling Lions offense that’s had it own issues with consistency, the Birds defense came up small when it mattered most late in the game.

“It stings because it’s the second week in a row that we didn’t get it done in the fourth quarter,” said middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. “That is our time to go out and shut people out. We didn’t get it done.”

But you can’t just blame this loss on the defense’s collapse. Some of the Birds other failings came to the forefront today as well. Vick committed three turnovers—two interceptions and a fumble on a bad snap that wasn’t his fault.

“I’m just going to continue to work on ball security as much as I can,” Vick said. “Limit the interceptions, limit the fumbles and I just try to keep this football team ahead on the scoreboard.”

For the game, Vick passed 311 yards with two touchdowns for 28-of-46 passing. But even with the turnovers, the Birds quarterback played well enough in the second half and put the Eagles in position to win.

The Eagles offensive line gave up a pair of big sacks in overtime to the Lions defensive line and the running game never found a rhythm throughout the game outside of a few runs by Vick. This time it wasn’t because of the play-calling. It was because Detroit’s defensive line simply outplayed the Eagles offensive line.

Perhaps the biggest play of the game was made by the Lions front four. The Eagles, leading 23-20 with 2:41 left, faced a third and four from their own 18. Vick attempted to launch a pass to a wide-open Maclin on a crossing route, but the ball was tipped at the line by Lions tackle Ndamukong Suh.

“Jeremy Maclin would be still running downfield,” Vick said.

The Eagles will enter the bye-week with a 3-3 record and some soul searching as they try to figure out a way to stop beating themselves as much as their opponents are beating them. If the Eagles are going to be a serious playoff contender, they have to cut down the mistakes on offense and get off to a better start.

“You have to show how good you are,” said wide receiver Jason Avant. “I don’t care how many players you have on a piece paper. That means nothing in this league. It’s about playing the game every day. If we don’t step up and play our best football, we’re going to get beat.”

Defensively, they have to figure out ways to get sacks even when offenses are max protecting in the front line. They also have to figure out a way to force turnovers.

“We need them,” Ryans said. “We need the sacks and turnovers. If we want to control the game and give our offense a short field, we need more of those.”

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