DETROIT - Was there a switch or a button somewhere, some powerful, unseen hand that reached in and changed the season during the second quarter of the Eagles' loss to Miami?
Twelve days and a lifetime ago, the Eagles built a 16-3 first-quarter lead over the Dolphins and life was good. Coming off that big overtime win the previous week at Dallas, you could see Chip Kelly's 4-4 team climbing past .500, building toward something, maybe taking control of the NFC East, such as it was.
In the wake of Thursday's 45-14 loss to the Lions, the Eagles have been outscored, 107-34, over their last 11 quarters, losing to Miami, Tampa Bay and Detroit, a trio of opponents Birds fans actually looked forward to facing, only a few weeks ago. The team's play is flat and lifeless; the defense that seemed to be carrying the load while the offense found its legs has melted into chaos.
The Bucs and the Lions just put up 45 points each on the Eagles in back-to-back games, something no pair of opponents had ever done in the 83-year history of the franchise. It's unclear whether any NFL team has ever allowed 90 points in five days. And this was the Bucs and the Lions - not the Patriots and the Panthers. (The Patriots get their chance in nine days, though, and won't that be fun?)
"You're going to see who the quitters on the team are," now that the Eagles are a 4-7 garbage fire, Lane Johnson said after Thursday's game. The quote was no sooner tweeted than it was answered by a number of fans who thought they'd already seen who the quitters were, they'd ruined their Thanksgiving watching them.
But that, of course, is really unfair to guys such as center Jason Kelce, who played Thursday with much of his left leg purple from bruising coming out from his knee, stemming from what Jason Peters said was a bursa sac problem. Kelce could hardly walk afterward, but he played every snap.
"I will never doubt Chip Kelly, and I will never doubt these coaches," Kelce said. "Doubters . . . those are losers, in my opinion."
Last week's trickle of anonymous innuendo is sure to get stronger between now and that no-hope trip to New England.
"Whenever the losses like this start happening, that's what happens. You try and find out who the guys are that are all-in, and, hopefully, we have a lot of guys that are going to stay onboard," Kelce said. "I trust everybody in here, more than anything. I'll fight to the death for all the guys in here . . . The last thing a team ever needs is separation."
Other Eagles were so upset after the game, they could hardly speak, and were just as amazed and disgusted as their fans.
"Forty-five points put up on you back-to-back, that's disgusting," nose tackle Bennie Logan said. "We've really got to figure out what the problem is and just correct it, because I can't continue to take an embarrassment like that. Me, personally, that was disgusting. National television, Thanksgiving Day, and you get embarrassed like this."
The question is, are there enough of them to keep the Kelly era viable as the carnage unfolds? Even if chairman Jeffrey Lurie entered the past week 100 percent committed to Kelly as the future of his franchise, you just don't keep losing like this. If you do, sooner or later, everybody who can be fired is, and usually it's sooner.
Last week, Johnson bridled at home-crowd booing during the Tampa loss. Thursday, he shook his head when reminded of that.
"Hey, bring it on. We deserve it now," said Johnson, who switched from right to left tackle when Peters suffered an ankle injury in the first series.
"I thought this was going to be a statement game for us," Johnson said, and it was, just not the kind of statement they had in mind.
The last two games seem to have knocked the snark right out of Kelly, who said defensive coordinator Bill Davis will not be fired, though both Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford threw for five touchdowns against flabby, confused coverages.
Asked whether he is the source of the team's troubles, Kelly said: "I don't know. I don't have that answer."
Kelly said he was committed to seeing the season through after a loss he said ranks "right at the top" of his all-time list of disappointments.
"We didn't coach well today. We didn't really do anything well today," Kelly said.
He said he told his players he has confidence in them, because "I've seen them compete and I've seen them play, and I've seen them play at a really high level."
Asked whether his players still believe in what he is doing, Kelly said: "I don't think they're trying to prove a point (by playing badly), or anything like that. I just think we got outcoached today and didn't do a very good job."
Mark Sanchez started at quarterback again because Sam Bradford's left shoulder didn't quite get medical clearance, Kelly said. Sanchez, sacked six times as the offense couldn't generate a first down for pretty much the entire second and third quarters, wasn't great, but even more than last week, he was beside the point. The Eagles' defense gave the team no chance to win. It was 38-7, with five minutes, five seconds left in the third.
Davis lost starting cornerback Nolan Carroll to a broken ankle early. He subbed in little-used second-round rookie Eric Rowe, but kept Rowe and Byron Maxwell playing their respective sides instead of matching up, for far too long, as Calvin Johnson wreaked havoc against Rowe, who got all of six defensive snaps in Games 6 through 10.
"I do believe in the group of men that we have. I believe we'll get it corrected," Davis said. "(Bleep), I said that last week. We will. The guys are fighting. I've got to put them in better positions. It's going to take all of us to get us out of the hole. All of us got into the hole, all of us will get out of the hole. We just need to keep fighting.
"There's no excuse, no explanations. That's two weeks in a row. Five touchdown passes in a game. We have to get it fixed."
Davis said he blitzed more than usual, to little avail; Stafford threw underneath effortlessly all afternoon, completing 27 of 38 passes for 337 yards, the five touchdowns and a 137.8 passer rating. Johnson caught eight passes on 14 targets, for 93 yards and three touchdowns.
Again, as against Tampa, an unheralded offensive line got the best of the Eagles' front seven, supposedly the strength of the team.
"We were on our heels the whole time," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "(Stafford) had clean, open windows to throw to."
"We are not overmatched," Davis said, when asked. "It's calls. It's technique. It's fits. All of it. When you have back-to-back games like that, it absolutely starts with me. We're gonna fight."
The Lions, who matched the Eagles at 4-7 with the victory, fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi a month ago and totally changed their offense, yet they performed seamlessly. This is a team that started out 1-7.
"Three weeks into a new offense, on a three-day week, against a team that does as many things as they do, it was going to be difficult," Stafford said. "We communicated well today."
Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin noted that the defense hasn't forced a turnover since the Dallas game.
"The last couple of weeks, we haven't gotten them. There's other stuff, too, but that's a big part of it," Barwin said. "We're not making plays."
Playing as far off the Lions' receivers as the Eagles seemed to be Thursday, it was hard to envision how they could have intercepted Stafford.
Barwin said the players haven't quit on Kelly, or Davis.
"The locker room is still together," he said. "There's not some emotional, personal thing going on. We're just not playing good football. That's all it is. When you play bad football, it steamrolls."