The good news yesterday afternoon, according to some of the Eagles who surveyed the wreckage of their mistake-strewn loss to the Detroit Lions, was that they wouldn’t have to dwell on the game very long.
“The faster we are able to move onto something else,” Malcolm Jenkins said, “we don’t have time to sit here and wallow in our sorrows and feel bad for ourselves or make excuses. We have a game in a couple of days. On to the next.”
This is true as far as it goes, but it would actually be better for the league to grant something like a four-week bye so they could also work on small details of the game like catching the football, holding onto it, and preventing the other team from running 100 yards with it on a kickoff return. Little things like that.
The little things added up to the 27-24 loss to a Lions team that was trying desperately to not win the game. Detroit teams have done this for years and nearly perfected the art, but having a field goal attempt blocked with less than two minutes to play, transforming a potential six-point lead into a chance for the opponent to snatch away the win, well, that’s just about the most Lions thing of all time.
It wasn’t enough of an opening for the Eagles, however. They still had a block-in-the-back penalty on the return in their script, and an offensive pass interference penalty that negated a long gain in the dying moments. And, of course, the seventh and final drop of the day, this one by J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on the final offensive play.
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The Eagles won the game everywhere but where it counted. They outgained the Lions by nearly 100 yards, possessed the ball longer, didn’t allow a single first down by penalty (not sure how they missed doing that), and actually committed just four enforced penalties the entire game. That half of those came in the final minutes and cost them 35 yards when they merely needed to get close enough for a field goal was pretty typical of the afternoon. They out-Lioned the Lions.
So, yeah, it was a stinker, riding hard on the heels of the loss in Atlanta they could easily have won as well. They are 1-2, but are looking forward to putting this most recent one behind them, and getting back on the field Thursday. Well, be careful what you wish for.
“In the grand scheme of 16 games, this is just another one,” Jenkins said. “Nobody wants to drop three (in a row), but there are 16 opportunities. Now we have the opportunity to play a good team. We need to correct our mistakes and get on with it.”
The only problem is that Thursday’s game is prime-time against the 3-0 Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field. If the Eagles are really glad they don’t have to wait long to get to that one, they are kidding themselves and not just you.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re excited for it,” coach Doug Pederson said, “and looking forward to the opportunity.”
No doubt, so are the Packers. What the film from Sunday’s game in the Linc will show is a team that is missing key players, inconsistent as a result, and capable of beating themselves with mistakes.
“Every game is magnified,” defensive end Brandon Graham said. “We got to make sure we stay together…learn from it and move on.”
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Packers may be just hitting their stride. Their offense has gotten better each game, winning the first two weeks while scoring 10 and 21 points, respectively, then romping out early and gliding to a 27-16 win Sunday over Denver.
The Packers have outscored their opponents 45-23 in the first half this season, and have trailed for only six minutes of the 180 minutes they have played. By comparison, things have been a little more difficult for the Eagles. In fact, in the last two losses, the Eagles have not had possession of the ball with a lead. It’s a little hard to establish anything that way.
“Obviously, there is a high urgency,” quarterback Carson Wentz said. “We’re coming off two losses first and foremost, but now we have a game on Thursday. No one feels bad for us and we don’t feel bad for ourselves.”
It’s easy to talk about urgency, but not as easy to produce it. Sunday’s game should have been an urgent call to arms for the Eagles. They had already given away one game and desperately needed to avoid doing the same at home, particularly against a so-so Detroit team. Losing to a second conference opponent should have been unthinkable.