Andy Reid marched into the tunnel Sunday as he has done at the end of every Eagles game ever played at Lincoln Financial Field.
Except this was likely his last time.
Some fans circled the exit to chant his name, expressing gratitude for 14 years in one place. For mostmany fans, the final memoryimage visageof Reid-coached teams in Philadelphia will be of a yellow penalty flag signaling an intentional grounding that ended the Eagles' 27-20 loss to the Washington Redskins.
The penalty eliminated the final second of play, when the Eagles may have had one more chance from 5 yards away to tie the game and perhaps provide allowthose fans with a fond lasting memory of Reid.
That would not have befit what's expected to be Reid's final season in Philadelphia.
So the Eagles lost their 11th game of the season, matching It matchesthe worst finish in Reid's career. The Eagles visit the rival New York Giants next Sunday, and his fate is likely to willbe determined quickly thereafter.
For Philadelphia fans, though,Sunday was goodbye.
"I understand the situation," Reid said after his team fell to 4-11. "I appreciate everything."
Reid's final task as Eagles coach may be has beenthe development of rookie quarterback Nick Foles. That process included another uneven performance Sunday, with Foles completing nearly 67 percent of his passes for 345 yards and a touchdown. But he committed a costly fumble, threw an interception, and could not lead the Eagles to a comeback in the game's final seconds. He also played the entire second half with a contusion on his throwing hand.
"There were some snaps he'd like to have back, but one thing that he did was he continued to battle through the game," Reid said. "And, actually, I thought he did better in the second half than in the first half."
No matter how he played before, Foles had a chance to lead a comeback when the Eagles gained possession on their 15-yard line with 4 minutes, 15 seconds remaining, trailing by seven points and with all three timeouts at their disposal.
Foles drove the Eagles into the red zone before he underthrew an open Jeremy Maclin in the end zone from the 17-yard line. It was a completion Foles needed, and whether it was the injured hand or the swirling aggressivewind, the ball fell short.
"I felt like I had him," Foles said. "Next time I see that throw, I'll make it."
Maclin initially thought the ball would reach him. He did not know why it didn't. Foles and Maclin connected on a first-quarter touchdown, and Maclin finished with eight catches for 116 yards. But it would have helped if there were one more catch for 17 yards.
"He'll continue to grow as a quarterback as he matures in this league - and, even to this day, the great ones still miss balls," Maclin said.
The Eagles still had a chance after that play. LeSean McCoy (45 rushing yards, 77 receiving yards) took a fourth-down pass to the 5-yard line. After an incompletion, Foles went into the shotgun with eight seconds left. He was flushed to his left by Redskins end Stephen Bowen, and, with pressure mounting, Foles tried throwing the ball away. The clock stopped with one second remaining.
The problem was no one was around, and the pass failed to reach the line of scrimmage. After an official's conference, a flag was thrown for intentional grounding and a 10-second runoff ended the game to end the game.
"I just have to be smarter and make sure it gets past the line of scrimmage," Foles said. "It's on me."
The game shifted after Foles fumbled on a similar play in the first quarter. The Eagles opened with an 11-play, 76-yard scoring drive and were driving to take a two-score lead when Foles was stripped with the Eagles approaching field-goal range.
From that point, the Redskins outscored the Eagles by 27-6 before Colt Anderson recorded the Birds' first interception in nine games. The fourth-quarter interception led to Dion Lewis' 17-yard touchdown run, putting the Eagles within seven points. The defense forced the Redskins to punt, but the Eagles came up 5 yards short.
"The bottom line is that we have to finish the game and win the game," Reid said. "It's unacceptable to lose the game."
It's also unacceptable to lose as often as the Eagles have duringthe last two seasons, which is why Sunday had the feeling of a career finale for Reid.
It was probably the last time he walked off the field as the home head coach and the last time he exited the stadium into a city that cheered him for 14 years. The expiration date now appears so close.
"Those are good stories, but . . . your mind doesn't go there," Reid said about his future. "Especially a game like that, which comes down to the last second."