Eagles Lose in Overtime to Lions, Questions Begin to Pile Up

Jason Hanson & the Lions Celebrate an Overtime VictoryWell, how do I sum this one up?

Yes, I know. My journalism professors taught me many years ago to never start a story with a question.

But let’s be honest: How can I not start this with a question when I do not have an answer?

The Philadelphia Eagles continued their befuddling season with yet another mind-blowing loss, falling 26-23 in overtime to the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles led by 10 late in this game, and despite scoring 23 points, this offense is should once again shoulder most of the blame for this loss.

I’m sure the defense will get some criticism for this, but let’s be honest; the defense isn’t out there if the Eagles offense doesn’t go three-and-out after the Lions cut it to 23-20.

The Eagles also went three-and-out in overtime, losing so many yards that they faced a third-and-31 and had to punt out of the end zone. The Lions started their overtime drive at the 50 and drove 23 yards to set up Jason Hanson’s 45-yard game-winning field goal.

It was easy. It was like stealing candy from a baby that carries candy in the same fashion that Michael Vick carries the football.

And it’s the second straight week that the Eagles have lost on a game-winning field goal, and without a moronic offensive pass interference penalty by the New York Giants wideout Ramses Barden, it easily could have been a third straight week.

Simply put, the offense has to make a dramatic change in philosophy, or Philadelphia fans can just pack it in and pray for a Flyers season.

The frustrating offense only once on Sunday looked like the dynamic, high-powered unit it was touted to be before the year. That lone drive came late in the second quarter when Vick drove the offense 79 yards for a go-ahead touchdown to make it 7-6.

Outside of that, the Eagles had a drive stall in the red zone, several long field goals and a second touchdown that came on a blown coverage that allowed Jeremy Maclin to run free for a 70-yard score to give them a 23-13 lead with 5:18 left.

That’s when the Lions offense mounted its comeback.

Matthew Stafford, who finished with 311 yards, hit Nate Burleson on a great pass to cap an 80-yard drive and cut it to 23-20.

And, as mentioned, the Eagles went three-and-out and Stafford drove the Lions to the Eagles 1-yard line. The Lions couldn’t score the touchdown, so the game-tying field goal forced overtime.

So, the biggest question is, what went wrong on offense? What was the difference between the best drive of the day and the rest of the offensive series?

To me, it was play calling. On that long touchdown drive before the half, Vick was getting the ball out quickly or he was rolling out on a few pass plays to extend the play.

On other drives, he was standing in the pocket for way too long or the Eagles were attempting a run play that failed miserably every time. Vick also tried to force a deep pass twice and both times it led to interceptions.

The Eagles could not get the running game going, but it’s not like they tried to. The pass-run ratio was 46:29, and that includes nine Vick scrambles, so unless one of those scrambles were designed — they sure didn’t look like it — the Eagles called 55 pass plays to 20 runs.

How does this happen when they’re winning from the second quarter until the final seconds of regulation?

LeSean McCoy had just 14 carries for 22 yards, and even though his yards per carry were nothing to brag about, you have to still feed him the ball. We all know he’s explosive enough to turn that 14-for-22 into 15-for-100 in one play.

After the Lions cut it to 23-20, the Eagles passed on first down and McCoy, who caught the pass went out of bounds to stop the clock. The Eagles ran the ball on second down, running the clock down to 2:41, but the third-down play was an incomplete pass, stopping the clock yet again.

The Eagles had two chances to force the Lions to use one or both of their final timeouts — that or run it down to the 2-minute warning.

Instead, the Eagles had to punt, and starting at their own 32, Stafford had 2:27 on the clock with two timeouts and the 2-minute warning left to work with.

This is unacceptable and it goes to show that it is certainly not the defense’s fault.

I’ve personally been a strong supporter of Andy Reid. When I first started watching football as a child, the words “Eagles” and “playoffs” were not commonly used in the same sentence — unless it had the word “miss” in it.

So, I’ve always told the Reid haters that I’d rather cheer on a team in December and January that doesn’t win the Super Bowl than try to find a reason to watch football in November.

Under Reid, football has been interesting in most seasons all the way through December and January.

But I’m starting to re-evaluate my stance — and it has nothing to do with the fact that “Andy Reid hasn’t won a Super Bowl.”

It has to do with the fact that I’m seeing the same mistakes over and over and over.

I feel like the same miscues that cost the Eagles chances to advance to Super Bowls back in the early 2000s are the same mistakes that are keeping them from winning games like Sunday’s loss to the Lions.

Time management and play calls are at the forefront of these constant mistakes, and I need not get into this any more. It’s been discussed at length before and it will surely be discussed again and again this week.

It will all be talking points for the hot-seat chatter than will get louder this week. At 3-3, Reid is at that mediocre mark that he cannot be at.

Worst of all, it’s a mediocre mark that he’ll sit at for two weeks as the Eagles enter their bye week.

Reid will have plenty of time to answer all the questions that surround this offense, but as I wrote to start this column, I’m not sure what those answers are.

I just hope he does, because fans are definitely going to start calling for his job.

I believe there’s really no chance that Reid would lose his job during the bye week or even during the regular season — unless, of course, this two-game losing streak multiplies drastically.

And that could happen. After the bye, the Eagles have the undefeated Falcons, the Saints and the Cowboys, so there’s no break for Reid.

That means that the clock is running on Reid, and I’m afraid he’s used all his timeouts.


Jimmy Johnson

Jimmy Johnson is a Philadelphia native, who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 with degrees in media communication and criminal justice. He got his masters degree in electronic media in 2009. He was a member of The Pitt News, rising to sports editor, and he's also worked for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Lewistown Sentinel and the Reading Eagle, covering everything from the pros to the collegiate level to the prep level. He runs the Twitter account @Jimmysjargon providing witty and (hopefully) funny commentary on sports, specifically Philadelphia sports.