In a season of frustration, the Eagles may have found a tipping point in Sunday afternoon’s 38-20 loss to the New England Patriots. After failing to convert on back-to-back plays inside the two-yard line in the third quarter, fans chanted “Fire Andy” over and over for the remainder of the game.
With their season on the line Sunday against the Patriots, the undermanned Eagles needed to play a near-perfect game to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive. Those hopes were all but extinguished at the hands of the nearly flawless Patriots, like the last candle around the Thanksgiving table after all the turkey was consumed.
“It’s the most difficult and embarrassing loss that I’ve ever been a part of in my career,” Asante Samuel said afterwards.
Playing without quarterback Michael Vick or cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and with a gimpy CB Nnamdi Asomugha, the mistakes piled up quickly on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in the Birds 38-20 loss that dropped them to 4-7 on the season.
Between WR DeSean Jackson not coming back to the ball on a first quarter QB Vince Young interception, to Jackson letting a sure-touchdown pass that would have pulled the Eagles to within four points in the second quarter slip through his hands to and later dropping a sure 50-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, there were enough mistakes to provide a fitting epitaph to a disappointing season.
“I know I’m a better receiver and there were plays I should have made,” Jackson said. “So, no excuses behind that. I just didn’t have my best game today. It’s frustrating and I need to figure it out.
Jackson did just enough to further doubts about his contract situation and not nearly enough to lead the Eagles in their most important game of the season. The enigmatic wide receiver embroiled in constant conversation surrounding his contract was benched in the game’s final three series.
“He needs to do a better job.” Head Coach Andy Reid explained.
Jackson’s first drop was a catch that the top receivers in the game make, regardless of coverage or traffic in the middle. He finished with four catches for 73 yards, but left 14 points off the scoreboard with two drops in the end zone.
The Eagles started fast, putting up a quick 10 spot in the game’s first 6:41 minutes, following a RB LeSean McCoy touchdown that culminated a five-play scoring drive and later a 43-yard Alex Henery field goal. They never led again.
Despite possessing the league’s leading rusher in McCoy, the Eagles got away from the run game early. McCoy finished with nine carries for 33 yards and a touchdown — his 13th of the season. However, McCoy only toted the rock six times in the first half when the outcome of the game still hung in the balance.
“I thought I’d touch the ball a little more than I did.” McCoy lamented.
One of the many Achilles’ Heels for the Eagles on Sunday was their performance on third-down. New England entered with the 28th ranked defense on third down and the Eagles finished 4 of 13 on third down, including failing to convert on both third and fourth down inside the two yard line with 6:00 remaining in the third quarter.
After that series chants of Fire Andy rained down from Lincoln Financial Field.
“I don’t really hear much down there,” Reid said afterwards.
Whether he heard them or not, the chants were tangible evidence of the frustration of a fanbase that is witnessing one of the most disappointing seasons in the recent history of the franchise.
Young was wildly inconsistent on the way to a 26-48 finish for 400 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Eagles defense did itself no favors after making a statement against the Giants last week. New England was dominant in all phases finishing with 275 net yards thanks to a balance of the run and pass. What’s worse, the Eagles were inept in the red zone allowing the Pats to find paydirt on two of three trips inside the 20.
New England QB Tom Brady was surgical against the Eagles. The Patriots game plan from the outset was clearly to feast on the intermediate routes in the middle of the Philadelphia defense. Brady finished 24-34 for 361 yards, 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Meanwhile, WR Wes Welker led all receivers finishing with 8 catches for 115 yards and two scores.
“Well, I think Tom did a good job of really pressing the issue. We felt we had him on the run a little bit with some of the empty stuff and some of our matchups,” Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said — never has lost to Reid (4-0) including a Super Bowl win over him. “We felt good about our running game, too but just when we felt like we had some good matchups to take advantage of, Tom kept pressing it and everybody got involved. That’s when Tom is at his best.”
While the Eagles are not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the road became even more difficult on Sunday. After Arizona topped St. Louis, the Birds now find themselves trailing even the Cardinals in the NFC wild card race by virtue of Arizona’s week 10 win over the Eagles. Philadelphia now trails the Cowboys by three games in the NFC East race too.
Next up the Eagles fly cross-country to take on the Seattle Seahawks (4-7) on Thursday Night Football.
- Multiple sources say that Michael Vick was not in the building. Despite being inactive, Jeremy Maclin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were on the Eagles sideline. A team official declined to comment and suggested the question be posed to Reid. The Head Coach clarified the situation after the game saying; “It was similar to what I’ve done in the past with quarterbacks. He was in pain, so I didn’t want him standing out there when he was in pain. Why would I do that?”
- For the third time this season, Andy Reid could be heard chastising his team after a home loss at Lincoln Financial Field.
- The Eagles led the Patriots 10-0 after the game’s first 6:41. And were outscored 38-10 in the game’s final 53:19.
- Tom Brady is now 34-6 against the NFC in his career.
Matt Lombardo is the Lead Writer for Taking It To The House. Matt is also the Philadelphia Eagles beat reporter and a host for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoPHL or by Email at MDLombardo@yahoo.com
Filed under: 2011 NFL Weekly Reviews, 2011 Philadelphia Eagles | Tagged: Andy Reid future, Bill Belichick, DeSean Jackson, Eagles, Eagles Fans Chant Fire Andy, Eagles playoff chances, Eagles Week 12, Football, Matt Lombardo, NFL, Patriots, Patriots 38 Eagles 20, Philadelphia, Tom Brady, Wes Welker |