And you thought last week was ugly.
Up 20-3 at the half, and 23-3 in the third quarter against an offense that looked like it was going nowhere, the Eagles collapsed. Against a 49ers' team on the tail end of a 10-day road trip. As Eagles fans streamed toward the exits, a faint chant of "let's go Phillies" went up.
The problems were familiar. The defense couldn't hold a second half lead. They got run on when it counted. Star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was victimized on a big play. After holding the 49ers' run in check much of the game, the Eagles gave up runs of 25, 14 and 12 on San Francisco's go ahead drive. The 14-yard carry came on a crucial third down and took advantage of the Eagles' pass rush at all times mentality. The 12-yard carry was Frank Gore's game winner.
Oh, and Alex Henery, the rookie brought in to replace David Akers missed twice, costing the Eagles points that could have put the game away. Akers missed a field goal and had another one blocked by King Dunlap, but his extra point provided the deciding point in a 24-23 win.
Did Andy Reid make a mistake in naming Juan Castillo defensive coordinator?
Just for good measure, the Eagles wasted a career high passing day by Vick, 171 receiving yards by DeSean Jackson, and Trent Cole left the game with a calf injury. Jason Babin, who had a great day overall, replaced Cole at right defense end, and the 49ers' ran right at him on a crucial third-and-seven in the fourth quarter. They scored the go-ahead touchdown on the next play. Antonio Dixon also left the game with a triceps injury, further depleting a defensive line already missing Darryl Tapp and Juqua Parker.
It was an atrocious loss after one that looked about as bad as it could get. The Eagles are now 1-3, and the trips to Buffalo and Washington that looked easy when the schedule first came out are suddenly very daunting, and essential to saving a season quickly going off the rails.
FIRST HALF NOTES:
-- The Eagles are dominating the game and San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith looks terrible. That last touchdown was huge. At 20-3, with the defense getting after Smith like it has, the Eagles are in excellent shape.
-- What was Ronnie Brown thinking at the goal line? He was stopped. Fine. Take your field goal. Instead, it oddly looked like he was cocking the ball to throw. This isn’t the Wildcat. Good job by the defense to at least minimize the damage and hold San Francisco to a three-and-out and get good field position back.
-- After Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy is probably the one player the Eagles can least afford to lose. So it was a scary sight when he lay at midfield after putting his shoulder into 290-pound Ray McDonald in the second quarter. The block gave Vick just enough time to throw to DeSean Jackson. Shady was back in after a play or two, though. He’s tough too.
-- Jason Avant with a circus catch. Saw that all training camp.
-- The Eagles finally got the ball to Jackson. Vick told us this week that Jackson would have a big day today – and the team is certainly trying to get the ball to their explosive playmaker. Vick’s deep throws have been uncharacteristically short. Jackson finally hauled in a 45-yarder to set up an Alex Henery field goal. Vick later hit Jackson for 29 on a third and five.
-- The Eagles run defense tightened up after that 40 yard Gore burst. But they are still giving up too many big plays on the ground. They got lucky when Akers missed a field goal after Gore’s first big run. Other than that big play, though, the Eagles have allowed just 27 yards on nine runs.
-- Niners’ punter Andy Lee was averaging 52.8 yards per boot coming into this week. He’s averaged 43.3. today, with his second punt setting the Eagles up on their own 49 yard line. His third punt was a big one, though, going deep from his own end zone. The Eagles ended up on their own 30 after Jackson lateraled to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was immediately stopped.
-- Alex Henery is two-for-two, and the Eagles brass can at least feel good that they haven’t been embarrassed in David Akers’ return.
-- The Eagles tried to get DeSean Jackson on track early – using misdirection to help get him open on the game’s first play. The ball was underthrown, but still should have been caught. Jackson needs to come up with catches like that if he wants to live up to his own billing as being one of the great receivers in the NFL. Later he was outmuscled by Carols Rogers on yet another play drawn up specifically for him. As Rogers returned the interception, Jackson waved to the referees for a pass interference call he didn’t get and didn’t deserve.
-- Eagles fans gave David Akers a nice ovation when he came out for a 44-yard field goal. The cheers got noticeably louder, though, after he missed to the left.
-- Kurt Coleman at least laid hands on Victor Cruz last week. Jarrad Page totally whiffed on Frank Gore on a 40-yard run up the middle. Who’s up next?
-- Vick has thrown uncharacteristically short on two deep balls. But he looked just like himself on the Eagles opening touchdown, eluding Ahmad Brooks (who had blitzed past Todd Herremans) and finding Clay Harbor in the back corner.
-- We saw a fair amount of Nnamdi Asomugha on Vernon Davis, but the tight end got loose for a 26-yard reception when matched up on Nate Allen. Allen still doesn't look right in coverage - he bit hard on a move to the inside - but the Eagles are short on safety options.