Fourth-down failure leaves Eagles trailing at half; Running out of CBs
The Eagles played a decent first half Sunday night against a really good team, going into the locker room down 17-10 to the Arizona Cardinals despite 15-for-20, 148-yard passing from quarterback Sam Bradford.
The Cardinals had the Eagles' defense on its heels from the first play of the first series. Carson Palmer had John Brown deep, Brown having sped past Eric Rowe, but Brown dropped a perfect pass.
Arizona shrugged off this setback, moving 78 yards in the next seven plays for a 7-0 lead. Tight end Darren Fells caught a short Palmer pass over the middle and ended up gaining 36 yards to the Eagles' 7, much of it with Byron Maxwell clinging to his back. David Johnson ran it in from a yard out, two plays later.
The Eagles got back a 36-yard field goal, driving 56 yards in 12 plays, but the drive stalled after Bradford had to leave for a play after taking a big hit.
Arizona went right back to work, Palmer carving up the secondary. The Eagles had a good chance to stop the second drive on the third play, third and 2 from the Cards' 43, when Palmer threw a screen to Johnson behind the line. Mychal Kendricks seemed to have Johnson lined up, but he missed, the play gained 9 yards, and Arizona was again off to the races.
The Eagles did get a drive-stopping play eventually, Fletcher Cox reaching through A.Q. Shipley and sacking Palmer on third and 5 from the Eagles' 6. The 28-yard field goal made it 10-3.
The Eagles got even on a 22-yard Bradford pass to Zach Ertz on which the Cardinals had just 10 defenders on the field – an example of the Eagles' tempo working.
Both Eagles starting corners, Eric Rowe and Byron Maxwell, left with injuries, though, Rowe with a concussion, Maxwell with a shoulder, and Arizona took the lead again on a 47-yard Johnson run. Taylor Hart had a chance to blow the play up in the backfield, but fell down untouched. Safety Ed Reynolds might have had the best shot of several Eagles who failed to tackle Johnson.
Still, the Eagles seemed poised to make it a tie game at halftime when they used a 39-yard Josh Huff kickoff return to propel a drive that took them to the Arizona 17 with a first down at the two-minute warning. But Chip Kelly unaccountably decided not to use his best short-yardage back, DeMarco Murray, on fourth-and-1 at the Cards' 8, and Mathews didn't get the first down.
Murray had no carries in the first half and was on the field for only a handful of snaps. The Cards' Johnson, who left the field with a knee injury on the final series of the half, had 14 carries for 112 yards at halftime. Palmer was 11 for 18 for 162 yards.
Jordan Matthews had six catches for 70 yards for the Eagles.