And just like that, with an end zone fumble, some big missed throws, and a few inexplicable coaching decisions, the Eagles’ nine-game win streak and recent ride as NFC kings is over.
Some people will pin the loss on the bullshit officiating of Tony Corrente’s crew and move on. Others will take a measured approach and point out that the Eagles were bound to eventually drop another game along the way, or perhaps, that a loss is even a GOOD thing (ha!) in that it will serve as a humbling wake up call—which, of course, is fucking stupid.
Frankly, that was a shit show last night and it was a concerning loss, regardless of whatever comforting qualifier you want to attach to it.
No, the Eagles did not appear outclassed, and that’s the good news. They were, however, a strong favorite, with a more talented roster and all of the momentum in the world, and yet they played an undisciplined and tentative brand of football that made it look like the moment was far too big. Tell yourself whatever you’d like, but the bottom line is the Eagles stumbled their way to 10 points against an injury-ravaged Seattle defense that was lit up by the Falcons two weeks ago. This doesn’t mean the Eagles aren’t a good football team, or that they won’t rebound next week in Los Angeles, but for those that felt the Eagles were an elite team beyond letdowns and immune to the ups and downs experienced by lesser teams, well, they’re not. And, now, there are some valid concerns as a byproduct.
The Eagles were dreadful in one-score games a year ago. Doug Pederson has done a phenomenal job this season, but there haven’t been many games in which he or his staff has had to navigate through critical, high-leverage situations. Last night they had to, and they failed miserably. The clock management before the half, the failed challenge, and the non-challenge on the lateral were each botched. A coach can’t get every call right, but given Pederson’s growing problematic sample of these miscalculations, it is, at the very least, somewhat of a concern. The Eagles are likely to find themselves in similar situations this upcoming Sunday and, barring an unprecedented collapse of epic proportions which lingers as an absolute possibility in the back of my mind because I hate myself and don’t believe I deserve nice things, in the postseason. Can they handle it? We’ll see.
The other issue the Eagles have now let become a thing is the strength of the schedule debate. True, they have run a train on inferior opponents this season and that’s generally indicative of a good team. They’ve given us plenty of reasons to believe they are a good team. Still, there have been many skeptics waiting to poke holes at the Eagles for their lack of quality wins. Last night’s performance gave everybody waiting to take a shot at them the perfect opportunity to do so. Surely, the Eagles were well aware they had an opportunity to silence any remaining doubt about their legitimacy, and they came up embarrassingly small.
Now a monster game with the Rams looms this upcoming Sunday. Lose that one and not only does the “they can’t beat good teams” narrative explode (and probably become truth), but they’ll also find themselves at 10-3 and out of a first round bye. Their margin for error has quickly evaporated. If they’re at all interested in winning the Super Bowl come February, this a game they have to have. All of you out there that wanted to see some adversity, well, you’ve got it now. Should we be slamming the panic button this morning? No, probably not, but that all too familiar feeling of Eagles-induced dread and angst that I’ve felt every year ever? After a week in which absolutely nothing around the NFL went right for the Eagles, yeah, that’s back.