The Eagles knew, win or lose Sunday night, they could win the NFC East by winning their final two games against the Redskins and Giants.
Well, they lost, and it wasn’t pretty as Philadelphia failed to play fundamental football in a 40-17loss under the lights.
The Eagles’ defense couldn’t make tackles, the players couldn’t stay healthy and the offense couldn’t hold on to the ball as the squad wasted a solid performance from Sam Bradford (at least early)to fall to 6-8 on the year.
Perhaps echoing their three-game losing streak earlier this fall inconsistency on both sides of the ball proved to be Philly’s downfall against the 12-2 Cards.
Here are three things we noticed Sunday night:
Curious coaching (and the demise of DeMarco Murray)
Chip Kelly has committed a number of football crimes in his Eagles’ tenure, but not calling on DeMarco Murray (who had two carries for three yards) on a forth-and-one in the red zone late the the second half is a serious head scratcher.
The coach let Ryan Mathews, the Birds’ leading rusher in the game go up the gut where he lost a yard, costing the Eagles points. Instead of tying things up at 17-all the trailed by a touchdown at the half.
Of course, in the third quarter the Cards added a touchdown to go up 23-10 (set up by a fantastic John Brown catch and questionable Kelly lost challenge).
The developments in Sunday’s game certainly make it appear that Murray’s days in Philly are numbered.
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Bradford shows his stuff
After a Nelson Agholor false start, Bradford found Matthews for 30-yards on third and long to jumpstart the Eagles’ opening drive. Then, after a Ryan Mathews holding call, Matthews again came through on third and long, this time on a 14-yard first down reception. There was no third, third-down heroics, as Bradford (who had to sit out a play after laying on the turf injured) and the Eagles had to settle for a field goal to trail 7-3.
Bradford continued his sound play into the second quarter, finding a wide open Zach Ertz midway through the frame on a 22-yard touchdown pass to cap a quick, four play, 53-yard drive to square things at 10-all.
In the second half Bradford was playing from way behind, and made his first mistake coughing up a fumble on a promising-looking drive in the third (Bradford wasn’t the only fumbler on the Birds — Mathews lost one later in the second on yet another potent-looking drive).
The Eagles coughed up a third straight turnover as Deone Buchannonturned in a pick-six to start the fourth quarter.
He still mustered a solid stat line, going 28-for-41for 353 yards and two scores (and two interceptions), thanks in large part to Matthews’ 78-yard touchdown catch in garbage-time. Matthews would finish with 159 yards on eight receptions.
Inconsistent defense/defense holds
Right out of the shoot, a David Johnson one-yard TD scamper punctuated a Cardinals opening drive that had Eagles fans pretty worried, as the team moved the ball at will. Things wouldn’t change.
Fletcher Cox earned his seventh full sack (he has a total of 7.5) in a key situation for the Eagles, with their back against their own end zone early in the second quarter. The defensive end got to Carson Palmer to force a fourth and nine at the 10, with the Cardinals settling for a field goal to go up by seven instead of 11.
Arizona jumped back on top after a “beast mode” run from David Johnson, breaking six, yes six tackles as he darted 47-yards to the end zone to put the Cardinals up again, 17-10 with four minutes left in the second. They would lead for the rest of the game.
In all, the Eagles defense relented a sizable 493 yards of offense, in concert with Arizona’s 40 points. They failed to create a turnover while stuck on the field for 37:28 and 74total plays.