Red zone woes kill Eagles

Eagles' Brent Celek can't make a catch in the end zone as Chargers Quentin Jammer covers. The Eagles lost to the Chargers, 31-23. ( Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer )

The Eagles made a late push in San Diego, but fell to the Chargers, 31-23, this afternoon.

If you have to point to the one thing that cost them a win, it's struggles in the red zone.

At halftime, the Eagles had outgained the Chargers, 188-149.

The makeshift offensive line had allowed zero sacks, and they did not commit a turnver.

Yet the Birds trailed, 14-6.

It started in the second quarter, with the Eagles facing a 1st-and-goal from the Chargers' 1-yard line.

A Leonard Weaver run up the middle. Stuffed.

A Donovan McNabb pass intended for Brent Celek in the corner of the end zone. Incomplete.

And in a puzzling call, Eldra Buckley charged up the middle for no gain.

Not Weaver again. Not Brian Westbrook. Not LeSean McCoy. But Buckley.

Andy Reid chose to settle for an 18-yard field goal, which put the Eagles on the board.

Later in the quarter, the Eagles faced a 1st-and-goal from the 9. This time, McNabb couldn't connect with DeSean Jackson on first down. Westbrook ran out of bounds for no gain on second. And McNabb hit Celek for a gain of two on third down.

Another field goal. And the Eagles went into halftime down 14-6.

In the third quarter, the problems continued. After a couple completions, including a big 58-yarder to Jason Avant, the offense was set up with a first down at the Chargers' 16-yard line, but had to settle for a field goal yet again.

McNabb couldn't connect with Celek on first down, but found Avant for 9 on second. The Birds once again made 3rd-and-1 feel like 3rd-and-21 as McNabb rolled out and threw incomplete in DeSean Jackson's direction.

They staged a comeback in the fourth, scoring a pair of touchdowns, but it was too late.

Three drives inside the 20. Three field goals. And a second straight loss.

At 5-4, the Birds travel to Chicago to take on the Bears on Sunday night next week before returning home to take on the Redskins.