The Eagles lost three out of head coach Chip Kelly's first four regular season games. After the 1-3 start last season, the Eagles were a remarkable 18-6 from October 6, 2013 to Thanksgiving of this year. However, the Eagles suffered their third-straight loss on Saturday in a 27-24 defeat at the hands of Washington. In this edition of 5 Things To Know Today, there will be a look at the Eagles' only remaining potential playoff scenario, the historic performance by tight end Zach Ertz and the two problems that have plagued the team during this streak ...
1. Will The Eagles Get Some Luck?
Saturday's loss eliminated the Eagles from Wild Card contention and guaranteed the Detroit Lions a trip to the postseason. The Eagles can still win the NFC East if they beat the Giants in Week 17 and Dallas loses to Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts today at 4:25 PM as well as at Washington next Sunday. Indianapolis is 10-4 and has already wrapped up the AFC South division title. They have a shot at a first-round bye, but tiebreakers are an issue with losses to both New England and Denver. Washington beat Dallas back in Week 8 and showed on Saturday that it is not ready to pack it in for the offseason.
Yes, the odds aren't in the Eagles' favor nor should they be after Saturday's loss. But let's take a trip back to 2008. The Eagles lost at Washington in Week 16 in similarly disheartening fashion by a score of 10-3. Philadelphia's playoff hopes appeared to evaporate. On the final day of the regular season, the Eagles needed a laundry list of results to go in their favor. First, Tampa Bay lost to an Oakland team that entered the game with just four wins. The Bucs were in the Wild Card chase. Houston upset Chicago, another team with Wild Card aspirations. That set up the Eagles-Cowboys to determine the final Wild Card berth. It was a win-or-go-home affair.
2. Zach Ertz's Historic Day
Tight end Zach Ertz set a franchise record for most receptions in a single game with 15 on Saturday. It broke the mark of 14 previously held by both Brian Westbrook (2007) and Don Looney (1940).
Ertz was targeted 18 times as Washington's zone coverage left room for quarterback Mark Sanchez to check down the ball in the middle of the field. Ertz's previous high for catches in a single game was six last season at Minnesota in Week 15. Entering Saturday's game, Ertz had 75 career receptions for exactly 1,000 yards. Ertz's 15 receptions matched his total from the previous seven games combined.
No receiver in the NFL had more than 12 catches in a single game this season prior to Ertz's performance on Saturday. In fact, Ertz's 15 catches was the most in a single game since Dallas' Jason Witten had 18 back in Week 8 of the 2012 season.
Looking at Ertz's college career, the 2013 second-round pick had double-digit receptions just once. Ertz had 11 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown in Stanford's upset win over Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks in 2012.
Of course, Ertz told Bo Wulf after the game that he would trade the individual stats for a win in a heartbeat.
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4. Penalties Stymie Defensive Outing
"We left them (the defense) on the field too long on third downs when we got penalties to extend drives you feel like you had to stop," said head coach Chip Kelly.
The Eagles committed a total of 13 penalties that resulted in 102 yards for Washington. Five of those penalties gave Washington a fresh set of downs. A sixth, a roughing the passer call on defensive end Vinny Curry, tacked on additional yardage on the final drive of the game that ended with Kai Forbath's 26-yard game-winning field goal.
Penalties were an issue on Saturday, but are they part of a larger problem? The Eagles after Saturday's game are tied for having the sixth-most accepted penalties in the league with 110, 15 above the league average of 95. However, the teams atop the leaderboard are some of the league's elite. Seattle and Denver rank first and second, respectively, in accepted penalties. New England is tied with Philadelphia in sixth place.
Penalties and big plays hurt the Eagles' defense Saturday. Running back Alfred Morris was held fewer than 100 yards and averaged 4.0 yards per carry. Quarterback Robert Griffin III had just 220 yards passing and an interception. But wide receiver DeSean Jackson had two catches of 50 yards and finished with 126 yards receiving.
5. Turnovers Balance Out Return Touchdowns
The Eagles lead the league with 10 non-offensive touchdowns this season. However, the Eagles also lead the league with 35 turnovers. And after Forbath's game-winning field goal on Saturday, the Eagles now lead the league in points allowed following a takeaway with 108.
The Eagles have given up 374 total points this season so that means 28.9 percent of those points came after takeaways, the second-highest percentage in the league.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez set new career highs in completions (37) and yards passing (374) on Saturday. Sanchez started the game with a lost fumble when linebacker Ryan Kerrigan beat tackle Lane Johnson off the edge and stripped Sanchez. On the penultimate drive of the game for the Eagles' offense, Sanchez guided the team into Washington territory. But on third-and-4, Washington's blitz forced Sanchez to throw without resetting his feet and the pass was intercepted by cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
An incomplete pass results in a punt that could pin the Washington offense. Instead, the ball was at the Washington 42-yard line. After just one play and a penalty, Washington was in the red zone.