KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Carson Wentz’s last-gasp Hail Mary heave bounced through the back of the end zone, players flooded the field, and Doug Pederson jogged out to greet Andy Reid. Jason Peters stayed down on one knee, an island in the human stream.
Eventually, backup offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai and linebacker Mychal Kendricks went to Peters, helped him to his feet, embraced him in consolation.
At age 35, the Eagles’ nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle is not much in the business of moral victories or learning experiences, which might be why he announced in the locker room that he would not talk to reporters, in the wake of his team’s 27-20 loss at Arrowhead Stadium.
This was not a game the Eagles were expected to win, in the raucous lair of a top Super Bowl contender, but it was a game they could have won, all even at 13 as the minutes ticked down toward the midpoint of the fourth quarter.
They lost largely because their run game and their overall offensive-line play were not good enough. Thirteen carries for the running backs, for 52 yards, meant Carson Wentz had to drop back and face the Chiefs’ pass rush 56 times. Four of those times, Wentz was able to get loose and ramble, to the tune of 55 yards. Six more times, he was sacked.
On the play that turned the game, a screen blew up in a flurry of red jerseys, blitzing safety Daniel Sorensen sprinted into the Eagles’ backfield for what seemed like the 50th time, and Wentz thunked a pass off the helmet of Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston, a ball Wentz was trying to throw away, at Darren Sproles’ feet.
In the first half, Wentz had thunked a pass off a Chief, only to see it bounce into the arms of Zach Ertz for the Eagles’ longest gain of the day, 53 yards. But this was not the first half. Wentz had used up all his lucky thunkings. This pass settled into the arms of Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones at the Eagles’ 31, and, five plays later, Kansas City had a lead it would not relinquish.
Tough turnover. But if you can’t run the ball, eventually things like this happen.
“We’ve just got to get it fixed,” Pederson said, after emphasizing the importance of the run all week, then calling fewer of them than he had in the opener. “No ifs, ands or buts. We’ve got to go to work.”
“If we could have run the ball better, executed better, we could have won this game,” right tackle Lane Johnson said. “We threw the ball a lot today. And part of that was because we weren’t very effective [running]. Obviously, it comes down to execution, and we’re not doing our jobs.”
Last week, it ended up not mattering, because the Eagles benefited from four Washington turnovers, but the backs managed just 52 yards on 20 carries, and it seemed there were holes LeGarrette Blount (14 carries for 46 yards) could have exploited more profitably. This week, Blount didn’t register a carry, and it was hard to recall a play on which Sproles (10 carries, 48 yards) or Wendell Smallwood (three carries, four yards) should have done more.
Again, second-year left guard Isaac Seumalo seemed to struggle terribly, unofficially giving up three sacks. The coaching staff gave Seumalo the job going into training camp, trading veteran Allen Barbre to Denver.
“First and foremost, I’ve got to play better. No doubt about it,” Seumalo said.
Pederson was asked whether he considered pulling Seumalo. He said the team has “a lot of confidence” in Seumalo, “but, at the same time, we’ve got to make sure we get him coached up right and headed in the right direction.”
“You’re going to have bad games. Love Isaac to death. We all got his back, on the line, because we’ve all been there,” right guard Brandon Brooks said. “Rally around him, get it taken care of. Isaac’s a great player, he’s going to be a great player for a long time.”
Blount, who was on the field for a handful of snaps, said, “That’s how the game went,” when asked about his lack of activity. He caught one pass for no yards. “We’ve just got some things to fix.”
Asked about Sproles’ getting the bulk of the work, Blount said: “You can’t really argue with a future Hall of Famer being in front of you, you know what I’m sayin’?”
“We had a lot of ‘man,’ one-on-one coverage,” Blount said, offering one explanation for the run-pass imbalance.
Where are we now with Blount, who sat on the free-agency shelf until May? Is it a week-to-week, running-back-by-committee thing where Pederson goes by matchups, or will Week 1’s uninspiring 14 carries be the most we see of a power back who turns 31 in December?
“You gotta ask Doug. I don’t know how things are gonna go next week. I can’t really predict the future,” Blount said.
Blount said he could not recall the last time he played but did not carry the ball. Actually, there’s a good chance he does recall, because it was Nov. 17, 2014, Steelers at Titans. Blount left the field before the game ended, and the Steelers released him the next day.
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