It shouldn’t have happened. It’s a game the Eagles should have won, and with three divisional road games, the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers on deck it might be a game the Eagles wish they had back. It’s easy to blame Ryan Mathews. Why did he fight for extra yardage? But the Eagles made careless mistakes all afternoon.
The Eagles, shockingly, began the game sluggish. Detroit didn’t really do anything special in the first half, but the Lions found themselves in the end zone three times during the first 30 minutes. Theo Riddick, who caused problem after problem last Thanksgiving’s debacle, torched Philly’s vastly improved defense early. The Eagles had an opportunity to stall Detroit’s opening drive on 3rd and 11 from Philly’s 21, but Anquan Boldin beat slot corner Ron Brooks inside for a nice gain. Again, on the second drive, Marcus Smith sacked Matt Stafford on first down, but Destiny Vaeao jumped offside on 2nd and 12 in what would’ve been a Stafford incompletion. The little things throughout the game proved to be the difference in the outcome.
And even when the Eagles got after Stafford, towards the end of the first half, they made costly mistakes, namely Fletcher Cox ripping off Stafford’s helmet. It was third down, and the Lions would’ve settled for a field goal, making the score 17-7. The penalty led to a Marvin Jones touchdown reception. Those four points proved substantial for the Eagles.
It was a different defense in the second half, however. The Eagles shut down the Lions, which makes the Mathews fumble even more difficult to swallow. Detroit had 10 total yards in the second half before the fumble. Punter Donnie Jones could’ve pinned Detroit inside the 10-yard line, and the Eagles defense could’ve continued their defensive dominance.
Carson Wentz played well enough to win the game, although he should’ve had his first interception on Philadelphia’s first drive. He forced a ball into Nelson Agholor. Wentz had two delay of game penalties, also. One happened in the second quarter, which is inexcusable. It takes a second to call time out, and the Eagles had three of them. It didn’t really matter since Philadelphia scored a touchdown later that drive. The Eagles blew a prime chance to take the lead midway through the third after a Stafford fumble. Dorial Green-Beckham should have reeled in 16-yard score. It’s imperative when the opponent provides a gift inside their 20 the Eagles take advantage, and not settle for a field goal. The Eagles would’ve been in total control had Green-Beckham secured that third down reception. Football has many would’ve, could’ve, should’ve moments, but, given Philly’s upcoming schedule, it feels like the Eagles will regret this loss.
The beginning of the game had a weird feeling to it. Not only did Detroit march down on the opening drive, Josh Huff muffed the ensuing kick-off. It probably didn’t mean anything, especially since Huff recovered it, but it might’ve been a foreshadowing for the miscue-infested Eagles. Blame the refs if you’d like, but the Eagles did plenty ill-advised actions throughout the game. It wasn’t like the Eagles looked complacent, but something was off about how they played. The refs didn’t help. Anytime a team has 12 more penalties and 93 more penalty yards than an opponent, questions should surface. But the Eagles had every opportunity to win that game, so blaming anyone but Philadelphia players seems a stretch.
The result might not matter if the Eagles dominate the division, and Philadelphia gets their first taste of that at Washington this Sunday. Philly have lost three straight against Washington, but the Eagles enter the game in Maryland as favorites. There isn’t really such thing as a must win for a 3-1 team, but with their upcoming schedule the Eagles have to approach it like one.
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