After acknowledging that using his final timeout would have been a good thing to do, before the Eagles tried to tie Sunday’s game on a rushed, doomed two-point conversion attempt with a minute and 55 seconds remaining, Doug Pederson also said that the muffed conversion wasn’t why his team lost.
“We didn’t execute as an offense, and as coaches, and as players. But I’ll say this: That didn’t lose us the football game,” Pederson said in his Monday news conference, reflecting on Sunday’s 30-28 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. “Obviously, it was a big play that could have tied the football game; we had opportunities throughout the course of the game to really make a difference. … I talk to the team a lot about how three, four, five plays a game could determine the outcome, and some of that’s decisions [by] coaches, too, so we all had a hand in it, and we can definitely execute that play a little better.”
In falling behind 17-0 and 30-14, the Eagles did more than enough to lose. They were fortunate that the Ravens kept taking penalties (12 for 132 yards) that extended Eagles drives or made it harder for the Ravens' quarterback, reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, to move the chains.
But even after all that, the Eagles were in position to get to overtime, and they ended up making it too easy for Baltimore to avoid losing its lead. The play Pederson chose was a read-option with Carson Wentz and Boston Scott that the Ravens had seen before when Jalen Hurts tried to run it with Miles Sanders on a previous two-point attempt that also failed. Wentz might have had a better idea of what to do at the line, if he hadn’t broken the huddle with seven seconds remaining on the play clock.
Pederson said on his weekly Monday morning WIP 94.1-FM appearance that by the final touchdown, he and his staff had used all the red-zone plays that were in the week’s game plan. The read-option was difficult to execute against an aggressive Baltimore defense both times he called it.
This time, tight end Richard Rodgers ran past ex-Eagles linebacker L.J. Fort to block someone in the secondary, and left tackle Jordan Mailata and left guard Nate Herbig blocked down, to the inside. This left Fort and Matt Judon, both lined up outside Mailata, with unblocked access to Wentz. Judon and Fort were basically part of Wentz’s backfield by the time he stuck the ball into Scott’s belly and tried to pull it out.
This is the second day-after Pederson mea culpa of the season; previously the coach acknowledged that punting to preserve a tie in the final seconds of overtime against the Bengals was not optimal. This is something to keep an eye on, regarding decision-making under pressure.
Pederson and his staff deserve a lot of credit for the way the Eagles kept fighting, outscoring the Ravens 22-6 in the fourth quarter, even as the injuries to key Eagles mounted. (Carson Wentz deserves even more credit, for dialing up touchdowns with people in his huddle he’d barely met.) But in Pederson’s case, it does no good to get the team to the doorstep of a massive comeback upset if you trip over yourself trying to cross the threshold.
The Ravens didn’t have to make any kind of amazing play to stop the conversion attempt. They just had to watch the Eagles bungle it, and tackle the ballcarrier.
That a wide receiver who has no kick or punt return duties could lead his team in scoring, with no catches listed on the scoresheet?
JJ Arcega-Whiteside tallied a touchdown on a fumble recovery and added a two-point conversion catch, which doesn’t count as a catch in the stats.