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Eagles Comeback Not Enough In Loss to Detroit

Ryan Mathews #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Ryan Mathews #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)


Cancel the hotel rooms and flights to Houston. Sell the Super Bowl tickets. The Philadelphia Eagles’ scalding hot bandwagon took a major hit, as they dug themselves a hole early and were never able to crawl out, losing to the Lions 24-23 Sunday afternoon in Detroit.

The Lions came out on fire in the first quarter, straight up embarrassing an Eagles defense that has been dominant through their first three games. Three long meticulous drives all lead to touchdowns. RB Theo Riddick caught two touchdown passes from QB Matt Stafford in the opening quarter which saw the Eagles down 14-0. Even when QB Carson Wentz hit RB Ryan Mathews for a 1-yard touchdown pass to bring the lead closer, the Lions immediately responded with a long drive culminating in a Stafford touchdown pass to WR Marvin Jones Jr. At the end of the half, the Eagles were down 21-10. The Eagles mistakes were plentiful, with fourteen penalties for 111 yards.

“The biggest thing is that we just shot ourselves in the foot a couple too many times,” QB Carson Wentz said. “Some of the holding plays, some of those things happen. But delays of game and some of those mistakes that we can control ourselves. We got to just clean up. Those are things we want to have back.”

The second half provided a glimpse of hope for the Eagles faithful. Carson Wentz responded quite well as a rookie quarterback bringing his team out of a major deficit on the road. He took his team down the field on a nine play 75-yard drive, connecting with Josh Huff for a touchdown. He remained calm and composed, finishing 25 of 33 for 238 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

The defense also woke up in the second half. Frequent flyer LB Nigel Bradham played sparingly in the first half, and his play was sorely missed. While it wasn’t an official benching for his airport antics, it’s hard to believe their reasoning was to mix in LBs Stephen Tulloch and Mychal Kendricks, the latter of which completely lost Riddick on his first touchdown.

On the next drive, Stafford coughed up the football at his own 12-yard line while evading pressure, and the ball was pounced on by Bradham. The Eagles couldn’t fully capitalize on the turnover, mustering just a field goal on a drive that started at Detroit’s 16-yard line. missed points that would prove crucial. A few traded punts later found the Eagles tacking on another field goal to reclaim the lead, 23-21.

The defense remained stout forcing a three and out. But right when momentum was on the Eagles side, RB Ryan Mathews fumbled the ball at the Eagles 41 while carrying the ball with his inside arm, a baffling move for a NFL veteran running back. CB Darius Slay perfectly timed the hit, and the Lions took over and got close enough for kicker Matt Prater to hit a potential game winning 29-yard field goal.

The Eagles had a final chance with the ball but it wasn’t to be. With just over a minute to go, the Eagles rookie QB finally proved he was mortal. He forced a deep ball on the first play of the drive to WR Nelson Agholor that was intercepted by Slay, who certainly had a nose for the football Sunday. Agholor’s attempt to bail out his quarterback was not impressive.

“There’s multiple things. From a QB standpoint, late down the middle is not a good thing,” Coach Pederson said. “That goes all the way back to my days in Green Bay with Brett Favre. When the ball goes up, its our ball or nobody’s ball. I mean that’s the mentality, that’s the mindset. That’s what we coach, that’s what we teach. And then being able to track the football. Slightly outside, it was a deep throw, but typically it’s our ball or nobody’s ball.”

Some silver lining on the day has to be the fact that kicker Caleb Sturgis was as cool as a cucumber, making all of his attempts, including a 50 and 49-yard field goal. This is music to fans’ ears, considering the position hasn’t truly been shored up since the departure of six-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL All-Pro kicker David Akers.

“We’re 3-1. It’s a long season,” Wentz said. “So it’s just one of those things, you can’t just be too hard on yourself. You gotta go in and critique the tape hard, you know, challenge yourself to get better but at the same time it’s a long season. We got a long way to go.”

A myriad of excuses befell the Eagles Sunday: rust from the early bye week, distractions from a linebacker carrying a gun on an airplane, the team possibly overlooking their opponent, and a senseless amount of penalties. The team responded well, despite being down early.

“The sideline was very energetic,” Pederson said. “The guys understood that we were really beating ourselves at that time. They rallied and got ourselves back into this football game. Guys did a great job that way, and something to credit the veteran players on this team. People can start pointing fingers, but they didn’t. They rallied and had an opportunity [to win the game].”

The Eagles are now 3-1 and looking up at division leaders, the Dallas Cowboys. The head to D.C. this week to open up division play against the Redskins.

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