On the positive side, the Eagles defense prevented an opponent from scoring during the fourth quarter and the offense didn’t commit a turnover.
On the negative side was … just about everything else.
In the Eagles’ first game since Todd Bowles replaced Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator, the Atlanta Falcons scored on their first six possessions – touchdowns on their first three, field goals on their next three – en route to a 30-17 victory over the Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
The victory, the Falcons’ first in Philadelphia in 24 years, improves Atlanta’s record to 7-0. The Eagles (3-4) lost in the game immediately following their bye week for the first time during Andy Reid’s 14-year tenure as head coach. More importantly, they lost their third straight game.
“That was an embarrassing performance,” said Reid, who added, “I take full responsibility for that performance.”
Many fans certainly agree with Reid’s assessment. Let’s just say that wasn’t a weather-related “Fire Sandy!” chant that broke out near the end of the third quarter.
The Falcons are a very good team, but that doesn’t mitigate the litany of problems that are all too familiar to Eagles fans.
- The offense, which has only scored seven points during the first quarter this season, didn’t score during the first quarter against the Falcons.
- The defense couldn’t make stops on third down.
- Miscommunication regarding coverage led to a Falcons touchdown.
- The opposing quarterback (Matt Ryan) had too much time to throw, although the Eagles ended their sackless streak at three games due to a third-quarter sack by Cedric Thornton.
“This is fixable,” Reid said. “This is fixable. And we’re going to get it right.”
Reid might not have much more time to get it right. Before the season, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said an 8-8 record wouldn’t be good enough for Reid to return next season. A loss at New Orleans on Monday Night Football (Nov. 5) would drop the Eagles to 3-5, meaning they would have to go 6-2 during the second half of the season in order for Reid to keep his job.
A loss to the Saints would also mean the Eagles could almost kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. If their playoff hopes disappear, Reid will likely follow close behind.
The problems started right from the opening series Sunday. The Falcons drove 80 yards on a methodical 16-play drive, eating up 8 minutes, 44 seconds, en route to a 7-0 lead.
On the scoring play, Matt Ryan (22 for 29, 262 yards, 3 TDs) found Drew Davis wide open in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown. There was confusion about coverage responsibility with multiple receivers stacked on the right side. The result was that Davis was wide open for the opening touchdown.
The Falcons didn’t take nearly as long to score their next touchdown. After the Eagles opened with a familiar three-and-out, the Falcons drove 52 yards in 4:18 to take a 14-0 lead. Ryan dumped off a pass to fullback Jason Snelling, who followed the offensive line into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown.
The Eagles were assessed two pass interference penalties during the Falcons’ second scoring drive. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was penalized for pass interference against Julio Jones, moving the ball to the 10-yard line. On third-and-goal from the 6, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who did not start due a team discipline situation (FOX broadcasters said he was late for a team meeting), was called for pass interference against receiver Roddy White. The penalty only advanced the ball 1 yard, but it gave the Falcons a fresh set of downs at the 5.
There is reason to question how Kendricks got stuck covering a receiver of White’s caliber. The Falcons’ first drive was kept alive when defensive end Jason Babin was called for holding while trying to cover speedy running back Jacquizz Rodgers (8 rushes for 60 yards, 5 receptions for 20 yards), another bad matchup.
The Eagles trailed 14-0 while only running three offensive plays. They responded with a 13-play, 66-yard scoring drive, culminating in LeSean McCoy’s tackle-shedding 2-yard touchdown run around the right side, but the Falcons quickly pushed the lead back to 14 three plays later when Ryan found Jones (5 catches, 123 yards) behind Nnamdi Asomugha down the left sideline for a 63-yard touchdown pass with 6:33 remaining before halftime.
Matt Bryant added a 43-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining before halftime, sending the Falcons into intermission with a 24-7 lead.
“We just find ourselves in situations where we didn’t do it,” Vick said. “We didn’t play the way we can play. As Coach (Reid) said, it was just flat-out embarrassing.”
The teams exchanged field goals during the third quarter, but the Falcons kicked a field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter for a commanding 30-10 lead. McCoy (16 carries, 45 yards, TD) caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Vick with 7:18 remaining in the game, but that completed the scoring, leaving the Eagles to sort through the rubble of another loss.
“You can only say so much,” Vick said. “At times you get tired of talking. You’ve got to let your actions speak louder than your words.”
The Eagles actions Sunday spoke volumes. Their actions said they are a beaten team.