One of the most important statistics in the NFL is the turnover battle, and perhaps more importantly the points scored off of those turnovers. The Eagles gave the ball away to the Titans four times, while only getting three turnovers of their own. Compounding their problems, Philadelphia didn’t score off of any of Tennessee’s turnovers but the Titans scored 20 points, capitalizing on every Eagles mistake.
The most critical was a fumbled handoff between Kevin Kolb and LeSean McCoy with a 16-7 lead and 5:51 left in the third quarter at the Titans 3-yardline. Tennessee orchestrated a 74-yard drive for a field goal, cutting the deficit down to 16-10 instead of finding itself down by as much as 16.
“It came down to where you have an opportunity there to really put a hammer on things and you have the turnover at the 3 yardline,” head coach Andy Reid said. “That can’t happen. And then they take it the length of the field. You can’t have those kinds of things.”
On the play, the Titans broke through cleanly to disrupt the handoff in the backfield. Kolb said afterwards that the play came down to a communication error.
“We know exactly went wrong,” Kolb said. “We made a mistake. I know exactly what went wrong. I’m not going to say one thing or another, but it was an easy fix and it just can’t happen.”
That ignited the Titans offense, and Kenny Britt would go on to have the game of his life with 7 catches for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns. Of the 3 scores, 2 came after the McCoy fumble.
“A lot of the times we had him doubled,” Reid said of Britt. “He did a pretty good job, he made some big plays. You’ve got to give the kid credit, and we’ve got to do a better job there.”
Ellis Hobbs and Nate Allen seemed to be responsible for covering Britt on most of his big plays, but Reid wouldn’t name names in breaking down the poor coverage.
“I’m not going to pinpoint guys, but we’ve got to do a better job all the way around,” Reid said. “I take that responsibility. For a guy to continually catch the ball, over and over, then I’ve got to do stuff better from a coaching standpoint. Then, obviously the players need to do a couple things better too.”
The Titans rode Britt to the win, scoring 27 unanswered points to come back from a 19-10 deficit with 13:26 left in the fourth quarter. Tennessee notched its first win with a sub-100 yard day from Chris Johnson since December 21, 2008.
Philadelphia and Tennessee had a slow start, with no scoring until the second quarter. Then David Akers hit a 25-yard field goal to put the Eagles on top 3-0 before Tennessee and Philadelphia traded touchdowns through the air.
The Titans saw Kerry Collins and Kenny Britt hook up on a 26-yard strike, while Kevin Kolb found Riley Cooper from 5 yards out for the Eagles score. Akers added a 46-yard field goal before the half to put Philadelphia on top 13-7 at halftime.
The third quarter was another slow frame, with each team adding a field goal. Akers hit from 46 yards and Rob Bironas put one through from 41 yards out. Another Akers field goal just over 90 seconds into the fourth quarter left the Eagles on top 19-10.
On the first play of the following drive, Collins and Britt connected for an 80-yard touchdown and the Titans were down just 2 at 19-17.
The Eagles went three and out and the Titans drove 46 yards to set up a 38-yard field goal by Bironas, giving Tennessee a 20-19 lead with 9:31 left to play.
Philadelphia again failed to pick up a first down and punted it back to Tennessee with 7:30 left to play. A six play drive culminated in a 16-yard pass from Collins to Britt for the receiver’s third touchdown of the afternoon, and an extra point made it 27-19.
The Eagles went three and out, but forced the same from the Titans with 3:49 left. Jorrick Calvin fumbled on the return though, and the Titans recovered, allowing them to run the clock down to the 22 second mark before a Bironas chip shot put the Titans up 30-19.
Cortland Finnegan added insult to injury with a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown as time expired, leaving the Eagles on the wrong side of a comeback that turned into a blowout, falling 37-19.
Kolb said the Eagles need to learn how to close teams out when they have the opportunity.
“We have to have this, I’ve been saying it for a couple of weeks now, this step on their throat mentality,” Kolb said. “It came back and bit us today.”
But as far as how the Eagles can figure that out, Kolb isn’t so sure. “Obviously, we don’t know,” the quarterback said. “I think the biggest thing is, I think the play calling is still aggressive. We just have to keep our aggressive mentality. It’s human nature when you get ahead to settle, that’s why you see comebacks like that. We just can’t settle and it starts with me.”
Next time the Eagles step on the field though, it will start with Michael Vick. Reid confirmed that Vick will be his starter after the bye week when Indianapolis visits Philadelphia.
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