The Eagles’ were finally burned yesterday in the type of game that had gone their way three times already this season when Shaun Suisham drilled a 34-year field goal as time expired to give the Steelers a 16-14 win. It was a strange game in that the Eagles probably should have won, but they were also lucky to have not been blown out. But as any good Philadelphia sports fan knows, today isn’t about focusing on next week or looking at the bigger picture and realizing the Eagles are still in first place. No. It’s about panic and anger. It’s about blaming someone. So let’s do that. Let’s blame someone.
You could blame it on the defense. Despite not recording a sack, Juan Castillo’s unit kept Ben Roethlisberger off balance all day and kept the Eagles in the game. But nobody will remember that because they allowed Ben Roethlisberger to complete a critical 3rd and 12 early on in the Steelers’ game-winning 14 play drive that spanned 63 yards. They were an efficient unit that folded when it mattered most.
You could blame it on the offense. The offensive line was again inconsistent. They allowed three sacks and rarely opened holes for LeSean McCoy who was held to only 3.3 yards per carry. Jeremy Maclin was again a non-factor as he only gained 39 yards on five catches. And then, well, then there’s Michael Vick. He fumbled three times which resulted in two more turnovers, the first of which cost his team a touchdown. He has now fumbled eight times this season. And this time it finally came back to bite the Eagles in a close game. That 17 play fourth quarter scoring drive was a masterpiece, but it was ultimately rendered meaningless because of their inability to consistently get out of their own way.
So what happens when both units do some good things and a team should probably win a game and they don’t? You blame the coach. Look, I’m all about pointing the fingers at the players—players have to execute. And I’m usually a big Andy Reid supporter, but I’m not liking what I see here. Where is the explosiveness? Where are the big plays this offense? Where is that game where the Eagles breakout and steamroll an opponent? They have always had those games, even when they’ve been bad. You have a turnover prone quarterback who already fumbled earlier in the drive, but got away with it after a review. So what do you do? You put him in the situation to turn the ball over again by calling a draw at the goal line instead of giving the ball to your All-Pro running back.
Michael Vick is bombarded by pressure, so what do you do? You spend two quarters ineffectively throwing the ball deep down field to no avail and don’t make an adjustment until the third quarter. You trail in a game, so what do you do? You waste a challenge and timeout by reviewing a play that had absolutely no chance of being overturned. Then, you waste a second timeout with over ten minutes left to play, leaving your team without any chance of stopping the clock. Did anyone watching that game not actually believe that wasn’t going to come back to burn them? And that’s my biggest problem with this team. It’s not any one of these particular mistakes by themselves, it’s that they continue to happen altogether—and everyone sees it coming from a mile away. Given that this team is obviously talented enough to win, Reid now has 11 games to correct these mistakes, or he’s not going to survive another season.