Third Straight Collapse Puts Eagles Season In Limbo by Matt Lombardo

The 49ers overcame a 20-point second half deficit to hand the Eagles their 3rd consecutive loss on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. The 24-23 loss is the Birds third in the NFC and leaves them alone in the NFC East basement. 

Stop me if you’ve heard any of this before.

For the third week in a row the Eagles took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter and for the third week in a row, they came out on the losing end. The 49ers offense, missing its top receiver, and appearing inept overall still managed to overcome a 20-3 halftime deficit to beat the Eagles 24-23.

It was so ugly that as David Akers kicked the game winning extra point on the same field where his Eagles career as the longest-tenured Philadelphia athlete ended in a January playoff loss, fans chants of “Let’s Go Phillies” echoed throughout the emptying Lincoln Financial Field.

The Phillies are in the NLDS for the fifth straight season, while the Eagles playoff chances were put into legitimate peril with Sunday’s loss.

In the span of 15 minutes, Philadelphia turned a 23-3 lead into a third straight loss. To put it bluntly, there is something wrong with this football team and its inability to close out games this season. Philadelphia has been outscored 36-0 in the last three final frames.

Afterwards, the ever evasive Andy Reid couldn’t pinpoint the root cause of his team’s recent fourth quarter collapses.

“It’s a variety of things,” Reid said after the game. “I wish I could tell you that it’s one thing, but it’s a variety of things.”

While true that it is ‘a variety of things’ that contributed to the Eagles dropping their 3rd straight for the first time since 2007, it’s also the same things that have plagued this team all year. The defense failed to hold a double-digit 4th quarter lead. The offense failed to score in the fourth quarter. The playcalling left much to be desired in the game’s most crucial situations.

“You can’t sit on leads” Reid explained. “You can’t do that as a football team. That’s what I did with our team here and we lost the game.”

While that sounds great as a head coach to take the blame for such a debacle, the fact is, Reid did not sit on the lead. After taking a 23-3 lead in the third quarter, the Eagles threw the ball 25 times and ran it just five.

That’s five runs, in 23 minutes, with a 20-point lead.

Meanwhile, RB LeSean McCoy who entered the game averaging six yards per carry, touched the ball just nine times all game. McCoy is the type of back that gets better as the game goes along, and he was invisible in the fourth quarter, earning just one handoff. McCoy ended with nine carries for 18 yards, six catches for 34 yards and a shovel pass touchdown.

Michael Vick had a career passing day going 30-46 for 416 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while leading the Eagles with 75 yards rushing on eight carries. Vick is now 0-5-1 in games where he attempts more than 40 passes in a single game.

Vick’s top target DeSean Jackson ended the day with six catches for 171 yards, but it was all for naught. Then there’s the curious case of rookie kicker Alex Henery who missed two field goals, that could have helped the Eagles plug the dam in the second half.

Defensively the Eagles allowed 21 second half points and were gashed for 164 yards on the ground. Afterwards Jarrad Page renewed his faith that this team can get the job done.

“No question we can come back from this,” Page said. There are a lot of games left to be played but we need to figure it out.”

Linebacker Brian Rolle who finished with five tackles but was out of position on Frank Gore’s fourth quarter game breaking 25-yard run hinted that there may be some dissention on the defensive side of the ball.

“It’s about playing assignment football,” Rolle said. “Guys need to be a professional, it’s what we’re paid to do so if you see something you should recognize it, you should see what we study and what our reads are. It really comes down to trusting each other and trusting the scheme.”

The Eagles, who were the most active team in free agency and have drawn comparison to the Miami Heat and the “Dream Team”, now find themselves at 1-3 trailing the Washington Redskins by two games in the NFC East and on the razors edge when it comes to fighting back for a playoff berth. Worst yet for the Birds, is that all three losses came against conference opponents, two of which against teams poised to fight for the NFC Wild Card. In order to go 10-6 this season, the Eagles would have to finish 9-3, with games against the Patriots, Jets, Giants, two against the Cowboys and Redskins respectively remaining on the schedule.

To add injury to insult, Trent Cole left the game on a cart with what was announced as a hamstring strain, but afterwards was in the locker room on crutches and one team source speculated that it is in fact a tear.

Needless to say, the road to the playoffs for the Eagles is already after a quarter of a season, filled with potholes.

Clearing The Notebook

  • Jason Babin had a career best three sacks today, raising his total to five on the year.
  • File this under “WTF?!” Ronnie Brown’s fumble at the three yard line in the second quarter was actually according to Brown a designed pass play where he was to throw the ball from the line of scrimmage.
  • The Eagles Red Zone woes continue, they were just 2-7 inside the 20, good for a 29 percent efficiency.
  • Brian Rolle looked solid through the first half but was targeted repeatedly by the 49ers in the second half. He was caught way out of position on Frank Gore’s game breaking 25 yard gain in the fourth.
 
 
Matt Lombardo is the Philadelphia Eagles beat  reporter and host for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoPHL or by Email at MDLombardo@yahoo.com
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