It’s going to be a long two weeks.
The Eagles appeared well on their way toward entering the bye week with a winning record, but the Lions scored 17 point during the fourth quarter, storming back from a 10-point deficit with 5:18 remaining, to defeat the Eagles in overtime, 26-23, on Jason Hanson’s 45-yard field goal.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 3-3 and forced head coach Andy Reid to resort to his bottomless pit of postgame clichés.
“It’s my responsibility,” Reid said.
“We’ve got to do a better job,” Reid said.
“We didn’t get it done there,” Reid said.
Reid probably came closest to the truth when he said, “We’ve got to get better. I don’t know what else to tell you. We’ve got to get better.”
Although a 3-3 record certainly doesn’t preclude the Eagles from making the playoffs, there would be a much more positive feeling surrounding the Birds if they entered their bye week with a winning record.
“We know how important it was to win today and what it would do for us moving forward,” Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said. “This one will hurt for a while.”
The loss to the Lions, who had lost three straight games, caused both Reid and Vick to say everyone needs to look in the mirror.
If the Eagles look in the mirror, this is what they would see:
- An inconsistent offense plagued by bad play-calling and execution.
- A quarterback who gets hit too much and turns the ball over too much (Vick had three more turnovers Sunday).
- A defensive line that hasn’t produced a sack in the last three games.
- A defense that can’t get off the field in key situations.
- Sub-par return and coverage teams.
All of the factors cited above hurt the Eagles against the Lions. The offensive went three-and-out on three of its first four possessions of the game and its final two possessions of the game. The five three-and-outs matched the combined number of three-and-outs by the Lions’ first four opponents.
Vick repeatedly absorbed devastating hits during the first half. But the defense kept the Eagles in the game, limiting the Lions to just six first-half points. The defense limited receiver extraordinaire Calvin Johnson to one first-half catch, with Nnamdi Asomugha blanketing “Megatron.” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford completed just 6 of 18 passes during the first half. Consequently, the Eagles, who have trailed at the two-minute warning of the first half in every game this season, were able to sneak into halftime with a 7-6 lead when Vick dumped the ball of to LeSean McCoy for a 2-yard touchdown 1:16 before halftime.
The offense picked up the pace in the second half, but had difficulty reaching the end zone. The Eagles settled for Alex Henery field goals on each of their first three second-half possessions, extending their lead to 16-6 early in the fourth quarter.
The Lions started to find Johnson on their first possession of the fourth quarter. He caught a 37-yard pass that moved the ball to the Eagles 27-yard line. A 20-yard pass to Johnson (6 catches, 135 yards) moved the ball to the 1. On the next play, Johnson lined up to the far left and headed to the end zone, taking two defenders with him. Stafford ran a play-action fake, then rolled left to the area vacated by Johnson for a 1-yard touchdown, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 16-13 with 10:30 remaining in regulation.
Vick threw an interception on the ensuing play, his 14th turnover this season, but the Lions, as was the case with Vick’s earlier interception and fumble, couldn’t convert the turnover into points. The Eagles took advantage immediately with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Vick (28 for 36, 311 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) to Maclin streaking across the middle.
With a 23-13 lead with 5:18 remaining, the Eagles appeared to be in position to win the game.
“I know our football team, and I know how good we are,” Vick said. “I thought we were in a great position to win. Before you knew it, we were in a fight.”
The Lions needed just 1:46 to power down the field. The big blow was a 57-yard pass from Stafford to tight end Tony Scheffler, who broke away from defensive back Brandon Hughes. Hughes was victimized again three plays later when Stafford (22 for 45, 311 yards, 1 TD) found Nate Burleson behind Hughes on a “wheel” route on third-and-15 from the 17. The 17-yard touchdown reduced the Eagles’ lead to 23-20.
The Eagles’ problems continued when Brandon Boykin only returned the ensuing kickoff to the 12, even though the Lions have notoriously awful coverage teams. McCoy failed to get out of bounds after receiving a first-down pass, so the clock stopped. Two plays later, Ndamukong Suh batted down Vick’s pass, forcing the Eagles to go three-and-out for the first time since early in the second quarter.
The Lions got the ball back with 2:27 remaining. They nearly won the game in regulation. Johnson made a terrific sideline catch that, after being ruled out of bounds, was determined a good catch on the replay review. The Lions seemed like they were setting up a field goal, but they advanced all the way to the 1. After the Eagles defense disrupted two passing plays, Hanson kicked a 19-yard game-tying field goal with 3 seconds remaining.
The Eagles saved their worst for last. After winning the coin toss, the Eagles had their worst possession of the game. Vick was sacked for a 7-yard loss on first down and a 14-yard loss on second down, backing the Eagles up to their own 4. They almost caught a break when Akeem Jordan stripped Stefan Logan of the ball during the punt return, but the ball bounced right back to Logan.
The Lions took over at the 50. Despite a holding penalty, the Lions moved into field goal range on a 17-yard pass to Johnson. The reliable Hanson drilled a 45-yard field goal, generating a chorus of boos from the shocked Lincoln Financial Field crowd.
“The offense can’t start the way we’re starting,” Reid said, “and we’ve got to finish better, on offense and defense.”
Given the Eagles’ struggles in all facets of the game, perhaps Vick summed up their situation the best.
“It’s a good time for a bye,” he said.