This was as ugly as it was disappointing for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sure, they were playing without their top two receiving targets — DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery — but the game was there for the taking.
In fact, the Detroit Lions tried to hand them a win with 1:40 left when a 46-yard field goal attempt was blocked. The miraculous play was actually the work of a determined Malcolm Jenkins who threw his whole body into the ball. The Eagles couldn’t capitalize, though. The team’s record fell to 1-2 following a devastating 27-24 loss to the Lions Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
What went wrong? Can the team be fixed?
There is much work to be done, and it starts with a short week. The Eagles will play the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football at Lambeau Field. On Sunday, the Packers beat the Denver Broncos, 27-16.
Seven Key Takeaways from Eagles-Lions Game
1. Dropped Passes Doom Eagles
The Eagles dropped seven passes in their 27-24 loss, including two big ones from Mack Hollins and JJ Arcega-Whiteside on their final possession late in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line. Both balls slipped right off their fingertips. The Eagles also watched Nelson Agholor struggle once again with two drops, Dallas Goedert missed another one and Jordan Howard clanged one off his chest. It was a putrid display, especially on the same day that legendary Eagles receiver Harold Carmichael celebrated his 70th birthday.
2. Injury Bug Bites Hard Again
This team cannot escape the injury bug which bit down hard again Sunday afternoon in South Philly. Jason Peters was the first to exit, leaving in the second quarter and then returning in the third, with a mysterious illness. The Eagles also lost defensive end Derek Barnett (ankle), left tackle Andre Dillard (leg) and Ronald Darby (hamstring). Remember, they were already down several players: DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Corey Clement and Jordan Mailata. Injured tight end Dallas Goedert played very limited snaps.
3. Keep Pounding the Rock
Head coach Doug Pederson seemed committed to the run and it was working. The Eagles combined for 30 carries and 127 yards, including a bruising 1-yard touchdown run by Jordan Howard. His first in midnight green. It is becoming more and more evident that rookie Miles Sanders is their No. 1 option in the backfield, too. He touched the rock 13 times for 53 yards and broke a 14-yarder for a first down. One problem, Sanders also cost them a huge turnover when he fumbled it away. He was also the victim of a missed facemask call. This group remains very much a work in progress, one that cannot be abandoned.
4. Special Teams Not Special
The first momentum-changing play came on the Lions’ first possession — before Detroit’s offense even took the field. The Eagles were up 3-0 when Jake Elliott boomed a kick toward Lions return man Jamal Agnew. He proceeded to take it 100 yards the other way for an easy score. Sure, Agnew benefited from two huge blocks on the play but the Eagles need to stop those plays dead in their tracks. That was a way-too-easy six points. Give the unit some credit for blocking a late field goal — although that seemed to be a sheer determination play out of Malcolm Jenkins.
5. Don’t Blame Carson Wentz
It’ll be easy to start finger-pointing after this loss, especially at Carson Wentz. His overall numbers are pedestrian to say the least: 19-of-36 for 259 yards and two touchdowns, no interceptions or fumbles. Look, the quarterback was far from perfect — and still had them in a position to win. His defense shouldn’t be overlooked either. Wentz went up and volleyball-spiked a deflected pass in the first quarter and then made a touchdown-saving tackle following a fumble by Miles Sanders. Did we mention the seven dropped passes? Including two on the final and potential game-winning drive? Tough break.
6. The Secondary Looks Lost
Ronald Darby didn’t look 100 percent last week against the Falcons, nor did he look anywhere close to it again versus the Lions. Matthew Stafford was picking on Darby throughout the first half and Marvin Jones Jr. had himself a day (101 yards). Then, the struggling corner pulled up lame with a hamstring injury to start the second half. Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas started the third quarter and held their ground for the most part. The secondary won’t be confused for strength on this team, but they need to band-aid it enough to eke out wins. Douglas did make a statement strip away on a would-be touchdown by TJ Hockenson. But Jones got beat for the go-ahead score by Jones. Overall, the Eagles were burned for 201 yards through the air.
7. No Pressure on Matthew Stafford
The Eagles pass-rush was supposed to show up today. That’s what Fletcher Cox had promised everyone the other day. It’s almost Week 3 and we’re still waiting. The defensive line couldn’t get any heat on Lions quarterback Matt Stafford as he sat there and picked apart the Eagles weak secondary. The team registered zero sacks and only recorded two quarterback hits. In three games, they have two sacks and 18 quarterback hits. If they couldn’t pressure Stafford, imagine what Aaron Rodgers is going to do to them next week? Feast. Feast. Feast.
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