Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Eagles collapse into the bye

The Eagles seem incapable of putting anybody away early. Maybe that will change, maybe some day, but as the evidence mounts, it does not seem likely. They are a good offense, but mistake-prone. They are a stingy defense, but make few big plays. The result is agony. Get used to it -- and double up on the prescription for nitroglycerin pills during the bye week.

Eagles collapse into the bye

The Eagles seem incapable of putting anybody away early. Maybe that will change, maybe some day, but as the evidence mounts, it does not seem likely. They are a good offense, but mistake-prone. They are a stingy defense, but make few big plays. The result is agony. Get used to it -- and double up on the prescription for nitroglycerin pills during the bye week.

The Eagles are 3-3 after Sunday's 26-23 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions, and about 90 percent of the day was spent sweating blood. They trailed early, pulled ahead, but kept giving back opportunities to put the game away. And in the end, after the Eagles could do nothing with the first possession of overtime, the Lions won it when Jason Hanson kicked a 45-yard field goal after 4 minutes of the extra period.

The boo s were directed at both Eagles coach Andy Reid and quarterback Micahel Vick as they exited the field about a minute apart. It was a badly-played game by both teams, and it was a bad result for the home team, and now the Eagles have to let it lay there for 2 weeks.

The first half left everyone asking two questions as the Eagles and Lions ran off the field: 1) How are the Eagles leading by 7-6 and, 2) How is Vick able to run at this point, no less walk. Fox was reporting the gruesome numbers: 10 hurries, 10 hits, 8 knockdowns. It might have been the worst one-half beating Vick has taken all season, which is saying something.

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What was the biggest problem for the Eagles in the loss?
The porous offensive line
The defense’s late lapses
Michael Vick’s turnovers
The collapse of the running game
Another sackless effort by the defense
The coaching

Lions linebacker Stephen Tullo ch was a particular nemesi s. After one vicious Tulloch hit in the second quarter, a couple of plays before his 2-yard touchdown pass to LeSean McCoy, Vick was att ended to on the sideline by team medical personnel. But he came back out. He always seems to come back out.

The second half witnessed what has become a common phenomenon for this Eagles team: much better offensive line play in the third and fourth quarters than in the first and second. It was an afternoon where the Eagles could never really get their running game going, but in pass protection, things tightened up considerably.

And so, with that stability, the offense was able to get a rhythm going in the third quarter, finally. They moved the ball, and Vick hung in the pocket nicely, and the quarterback hits went way down -- but the Eagles could not score touchdowns.

On two drives, tight end Brent Celek -- who got the heck beat out of him, as he does most weeks -- dropped one catchable touchdown pass and had another touchdown catch nullified because he was ruled to have committed offensive pass interference by shoving off the defender.

The Eagles settled for Alex Henery field goals instead -- of 26 and 32 yards -- and then Henery added a 49 field goal early in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles a 16-6 lead.

The Lions came back and scored their first touchdown of the game, with 10:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, on a 1-yard run by quarterback Matthew Stafford. That made it 16-13, but it was even worse for the Eagles because defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was ejected from the game after d raw ing a personal foul penalty on the extra point.

And then it got really interesting.

On the first play of the next drive, Vick had DeSean Jackson open on a deep post pattern, but he under-threw the pass and it was intercepted by the Lions’ Chris Houston. Suddenly, the Lions had the ball on their 34-yard line with 10:21 to play. But the Eagles held, the Lions punted, and then -- finally -- the Eagles broke it open with 5:18 left to play when they caught the Lions in a big blitz and Vick hit wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with a 70-yard touchdown pass.

Did I say broke it open? What I meant to say was, the Eagles gave themselves a few seconds of breathing room before the Lions marched right back down the field and scored on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Nate Burleson. That cut the Eagles’ lead to 23-20 with 3:32 remaining.

Oh, and then the Eagles went 1-2-3 punt.

You know, just to make it even more interesting.

Again, the Lions marched. A great catch by Calvin Johnson, originally ruled an imcompletion but overturned by replay, got the Lions to the 25-yard line with 1:12 remaining. The Lions ran on the next two plays and got it to the Eagles' 9-yard line. But then safety Colt Anderson, playing in place of the injured Nate Allen (hamstring), was called for pass interference in the end zone.

On first-and-goal from the 1, though, the Lions threw two incompletions and settled for a 19-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.

All of which set up the ending.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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