Richard Sherman cupped his ear, antagonizing the Philadelphia crowd during the Eagles' 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and the Seahawks cornerback had every reason to gloat. There was no possible retort. The silence of the Eagles offense spoke volumes.
If the Seahawks' visit on Sunday offered a chance to measure the Eagles against the defending Super Bowl champions and coach Chip Kelly's offense against the NFL's top defense, then the loss became an indisputable indication that the Eagles are not yet in Seattle's class.
The Eagles offense totaled 139 yards, the worst output since Kelly became coach. It was their first home loss this season.
"You go into the game with a game plan thinking you can execute, but I'll give them credit: They did a hell of a job on defense and played better than us today," Kelly said. ". . . There wasn't a lot to write home about offensively today."
The loss, while potentially revealing, was far from crippling. It could affect the Eagles' hopes for a first-round bye or home-field advantage, but the Eagles still control their postseason prospects. They are 9-4 and again tied with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East heading into Sunday's rematch.
"It's a big deal for us in terms of going out and playing Dallas and playing competitive," Kelly said. "[The Seahawks] were better than us today. Hopefully, we'll get an opportunity to see them down the road, but we have to make that happen. . . . They're not going to give it to us. We have to go out and win, and it starts with our preparation for Dallas coming up."
The Eagles need to play closer to the way they did against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving than they did against Seattle on Sunday, when the entire offense appeared overmatched. Quarterback Mark Sanchez played his worst game yet with the Eagles, going 10 of 20 for 96 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
LeSean McCoy broke the franchise's all-time rushing record, but he totaled only 50 yards and fumbled. McCoy called it "one of my worst games . . . since being here." No wide receiver had more than 23 yards against Seattle's celebrated secondary. The offense ran only 45 plays, possessed the ball for just 18 minutes and 4 seconds, and converted on only 2 of 11 third-down attempts.
"If you don't get as many opportunities, you need to make the ones you get count," Sanchez said. "And that's where we didn't follow through and didn't execute today, and that's too bad. . . . We expected to do a lot of things better. We came in very confident, I thought we had a great game plan, and I think we just didn't play very well."
The Eagles jumped to an early lead after Seahawks punter Jon Ryan bobbled a snap and the Eagles claimed possession on the 14-yard line. After going 9 yards, Kelly decided to keep his offense on the field for a fourth down. LeSean McCoy rushed for 2 yards, and two plays later Sanchez found Jeremy Maclin for a 1-yard touchdown. That was their only lead of the game.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson rushed for a 26-yard score on the ensuing possession to tie the game. The 10-play, 82-yard drive was helped by a crucial third-down penalty on Brandon Boykin. The Seahawks added a field goal before halftime for a three-point advantage.
The second half started in the worst way possible for the Eagles when McCoy fumbled on the first play to give Seattle the ball at the Eagles' 19-yard line. The Seahawks scored two plays later when Wilson found Marshawn Lynch for a 15-yard touchdown to take a 10-point lead. The fumble stymied the Eagles' hope for momentum to begin the second half.
"It was terrible timing," McCoy said. "The situation of the game, trying to come back, and to get a turnover that fast, that was really bad. So that is something that's on me."
The Eagles' best drive came on the next possession, when they scored on four plays. Sanchez found Zach Ertz for a 35-yard touchdown to cut Seattle's lead to a field goal, and there was suddenly life back in Lincoln Financial Field.
The Seahawks made sure it didn't last. On the second play of the drive, Wilson threw to Doug Baldwin deep down the right sideline. There was contact between Baldwin and Bradley Fletcher, and the official threw a flag on Fletcher. The pass-interference penalty cost the Eagles 44 yards, giving the Seahawks possession in Eagles territory.
Fletcher did not think he interfered. When asked about the officiating after the game, Kelly did not comment.
Wilson and Baldwin connected for a 23-yard touchdown four plays later, and it was a two-possession game again. Wilson finished 22 of 37 for 263 yards and two passing touchdowns to go along with 48 rushing yards and the score.
The Eagles weren't able to threaten the 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Even after they forced a fumble, Sanchez threw an interception. Kelly even punted late in the game because he had little confidence the offense could convert.
Fans exited early, and the Seahawks' celebration came, much to the remaining crowd's chagrin. In perhaps the toughest challenge the Eagles have had since Kelly came to Philadelphia, they were the inferior team.
"They rose to the challenge," Kelly said, "and we didn't."
Seahawks Get the Big Plays
The Eagles have been among the NFL's best teams the last two years in offensive plays of 20-plus yards. On Sunday, however, the Seahawks made nearly all of them. Here are the 20-plus-yard plays:
Marshawn Lynch 21-yard run (1st quarter)
Doug Baldwin 25-yard reception (1st)
Russell Wilson 26-yard run for TD (2d)
Baldwin 20-yard reception (2d)
Baldwin 20-yard reception (2d)
Paul Richardson 20-yard reception (2d)
Jermaine Kearse 20-yard reception (3d)
Zach Ertz 35-yard reception for TD (3d)