The Eagles spotted the Baltimore Ravens an 18-point lead Sunday and very nearly came back and beat them, even as the bodies continued to fall.
Here are my five top reasons why they lost, 30-28:
The Ravens' Justin Tucker made a long field goal attempt Sunday and the Eagles' Jake Elliott missed one. In a game the Ravens won by two points, it doesn’t get much simpler than that as far as looking for a reason why the Eagles lost.
Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, nailed a 55-yarder with 10:01 left in the fourth quarter that gave the Ravens a 27-14 lead. He also hit a 46-yarder in the second quarter and another 46-yarder later in the fourth quarter.
Elliott was wide right on his only attempt, a 52-yarder at the end of the first half that would have given the Eagles, who were down 17-0 at the time, some much-needed momentum going into intermission.
It wasn’t a gimme, but that’s why they pay him the big bucks (he received a five-year, $19 million contract extension last November).
Elliott had made seven of 11 field-goal attempts from 50 to 54 yards in his first three seasons with the Eagles. He’s now 0-for-2 from that distance this season. He missed a 53-yarder in the Eagles' Week 1 loss to Washington.
Rookie wide receiver John Hightower and running back Miles Sanders had costly drops that could have changed the course – and outcome – of the game.
Hightower’s came early, on the third play of the game. A sack and a 6-yard loss on a screen to Sanders on their first two plays put the Eagles in a third-and-23 hole.
Rather than try to pick up 6 or 7 yards before bringing in punter Cam Johnston, Carson Wentz let it rip. His line gave him good protection, Hightower got open down the field partly thanks to a Ravens coverage miscommunication, and Wentz threw a perfect pass to him.
Instead of having a first down deep in Baltimore territory, Johnston’s 35-yard net punt gave the Ravens the ball at the Philadelphia 47. Nine plays later, Lamar Jackson hit tight end Nick Boyle for a 7-yard touchdown.
Sanders' drop in the end zone on a second-and-2 play from the Baltimore 21 late in the second quarter cost the Eagles a touchdown. In his defense, it was a more difficult catch than Hightower’s, but still one that he should have had.
While Sanders got separation on Ravens linebacker L.J. Fort, Wentz sidestepped some pressure and threw the ball into the end zone. Sanders, who had circled out of the backfield, thought the ball would be coming over his right shoulder, but Wentz threw it over his left. Sanders made the body adjustment, but the ball seemed to get on him before he had a chance to get his arms fully extended and he wasn’t able to hang on.
Making matters worse, the Eagles ended up getting zero points on the drive when a fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak by Wentz failed to pick up the first down.
Trailing by 16 points with 7 minutes left, Wentz engineered two scoring drives to get the Eagles within two points with 1:55 left. But their potential game-tying two-point conversion try – a read-option with Wentz -- was hurried and poorly executed.
Doug Pederson opted not to use his team’s final timeout before the conversion attempt. On Monday, he acknowledged that a timeout “could’ve been beneficial.”
Pederson’s play choice was questionable. The Ravens had stopped an earlier read-option on a two-point attempt involving Jalen Hurts and Sanders.
With Sanders out with an ankle injury, Pederson called a similar read-option with Wentz and Boston Scott this time. But Ravens linebackers Matt Judon and Fort both came in unblocked and easily blew the play up.
Pederson wouldn’t specify what went wrong, saying only that they didn’t execute the play properly. It’s possible that left tackle Jordan Mailata should have been responsible for Fort, but he blocked down on Calais Campbell instead.
And tight end Richard Rodgers, who lined up in the left slot, probably should have chipped Judon, which might have allowed Wentz to get to the outside. But that’s strictly conjecture.
The Eagles went into Sunday’s game knowing full well that they had to cover up the ball against Ravens defensive players who are masters at punching the ball out of ballcarriers’ arms. They had a league-high nine forced fumbles, including seven recoveries, in their first five games.
The Eagles ended up fumbling four times. The good news is, they only lost one of them. That was a fumble by Wentz following a 5-yard run late in the first quarter.
The bad news is, it was costly. Ravens safety DeShon Elliott ripped the ball out of Wentz’s arms just before his knee touched the ground. It was recovered by cornerback Jimmy Smith at the Philadelphia 28-yard line, giving the Ravens a short trip for their second touchdown of the game.
Wentz brought the Eagles back Sunday from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit. He took a licking and kept on ticking. He didn’t throw an interception for the first game this season.
But the fumble was his 11th turnover (nine interceptions, two lost fumbles). Seven of those 11 giveaways have given opponents the ball in Philadelphia territory. That has only put more stress on Jim Schwartz’s struggling defense.
In the Eagles' previous four games, opponents had converted 51% of their third downs. The fact that the Ravens only converted six of their 16 third-down chances is a step in the right direction.
Three of the Ravens' six conversions were on third downs of 10 yards or more. And two of them kept alive Baltimore’s first touchdown drive on their initial possession.
Lamar Jackson completed an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Miles Boykin on third-and-10. Boykin ran an out route at the sticks against Eagles corner Nickell Robey-Coleman, who was playing too soft.
Three plays later, Jackson completed a 17-yard pass to Devin Duvernay on third-and-11. Lining up in a bunch formation to the left with tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Willie Snead, Duvernay ran a quick in-route as Andrews blocked linebacker Alex Singleton and Snead sealed off safety Will Parks to clear a path for a too-easy first down.
Three plays after that, Jackson hit tight end Nick Boyle for a 7-yard touchdown off a scramble.