What the Eagles hoped would be an uplifting home opener against a struggling divisional rival turned into a multi-faceted nightmare Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
For the second straight week, the Eagles had to finish without quarterback Michael Vick. Against Atlanta, Vick left the game with a concussion, but he recovered quickly enough to start Sunday against the New York Giants. He didn’t finish, however.
The Eagles blew a fourth-quarter lead and lost 29-16 to the Giants, falling to 1-2 on the season.
Vick suffered a broken bone in his right (non-throwing) hand in the third quarter. He apparently sustained the injury on a quarterback sneak attempt. Not only weren’t the Eagles protecting Vick from banging his head into the line, they weren’t protecting him in any way.
Of course, that had been the case from the start of the game. On the first offensive series of the afternoon, the Eagles called a quarterback sneak on 3rd-and-1, sending Vick headfirst into the line.
The Eagles drove well on that first series, but it ended with an interception and the Giants then took early control with touchdowns on their next two possessions. Both scores highlighted deficiencies in the Eagles defense, with Casey Matthews unable to cover running back Brandon Jacobs out of the backfield on the first, and safety Kurt Coleman failing to bring down receiver Victor Cruz on the second.
Linebacking and tackling have been issues for a while for the Eagles and those departments helped put the Eagles in a 14-0 hole. Nate Allen replaced Coleman at free safety after that second score.
But while the first quarter went to the Giants, the Eagles came back in the second quarter to make it a 14-13 game at the half, sandwiching a pair of field goals around a 70-yard drive that was highlighted by an 11-yard LeSean McCoy touchdown run, his fifth TD of the season.
The Eagles took a 16-14 lead in the third period when the series on which Vick was hurt ended with a field goal. After a punt, Vick returned from the locker room where he had received X-rays and went back into the game. Maybe someone misread the X-ray results.
In any case, Vick drove the Eagles into Giants territory, but they stalled and Andy Reid elected to go for a 4th-and-1 at the Giants 43. If they missed on it, the Giants would have good field position in a game that required only a field goal to give them the lead. They missed, with LeSean McCoy losing three yards. It was a terrible decision by the head coach, but the defense didn't bail him out, either.
Eli Manning promptly took advantage of the good field position and took the Giants downfield for a go-ahead touchdown, scored when Cruz outleaped Nnamdi Asomugha and Jarrad Page. The Giants converted the two-point conversion and the Eagles were going to have to come back with Mike Kafka at quarterback.
That didn’t work. His first pass was an interception, the Giants drove for another touchdown and, yes, everything that could go wrong had gone wrong.
There weren’t many silver linings in the cloudy sky. The defense had been awful when really needed, Vick couldn’t stay healthy again, and Reid had gaffed on the only tough decision of the day.
Consolation? The home season has to get better. Can’t get much worse than this one.