Philadelphia Eagles News

Another Game Given Away

In their seventh straight loss, one that dropped the team's record to 3-8 for the 2012 season, the Eagles did just enough to lose to Carolina. There were plenty of missed assignments on defense, resulting in wide-open Carolina receivers. There were a bunch of penalties, including back-to-back offsides calls in the red zone that led to a late Carolina touchdown.

There were missed chances on offense, particularly in that old bugaboo, the red zone.

In the end, though, what really haunted the Eagles in a 30-22 loss to the Panthers was the stat line that has simply killed the Eagles in 2011 and 2012: Turnovers. Giveaways. And no takeaways.

A pair of Bryce Brown fumbles marred an otherwise brilliant performance -- he had 19 carries, 178 yards and two touchdowns -- and a Brandon Boykin fumbled kickoff return put the Eagles at minus-3 in the turnover department on the night, making them minus-17 for the season.

We'll get to Brown, and to quarterback Nick Foles in just a moment. They showed some good things and the offense moved the ball well at times. But the story of the night, the story of the last two seasons, is the giveaways.

Why are the Eagles so sloppy with the football? The coaches stress the importance of holding on to the football every day in practice. They work on drills, and they preach holding onto the football with two hands, three if they had as many.

But twice in the third quarter Brown coughed up the football, and the second fumble led to three Carolina points. Then in the fourth quarter, just after Carolina scored a touchdown to go ahead 30-22, Boykin had his best kickoff of the season to the 45-yard line and, you guessed it, fumbled it away.

Carolina ran out the clock and iced the game away after that.

Meanwhile, the Eagles defense again had a good egg in the takeaway department. The Eagles recorded four interceptions in the Week 1 win in Cleveland and had two more and one more against the Lions, the only interception during this seven-game skid. In all, the Eagles have three takeaways in the seven straight losses, with 12 giveaways.

Minus-9 in seven outings isn't winning games at any level.

Last season the Eagles were at minus-14 in the turnover ratio department and ranked 16th in the NFC and tied for 30th in the NFL, knotted with the Colts and ahead of only the Chiefs. Both of those teams were right at the bottom of the league in wins.

This year, the Eagles are last in the NFC and ahead of only the Chiefs, and the wins and losses bear out the problems.

But you've heard all of that before. It's a continuing tune the Eagles have sung, and it has been the thorn in the team's side and it just isn't getting any better.

"You can't have that and win games in the NFL," said head coach Andy Reid.

As for the more individual aspects of this game, Foles had his moments when he stepped into his throws and had some very nice completions. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 119 yards and compiled a passer rating of 89.2. The Eagles missed on one red-zone opportunity, on their opening drive, and it hurt them later in the game.

Foles wasn't helped by a hamstring injury that kept Jason Avant sidelined, or by a sternum injury that KO'd DeSean Jackson early on Monday night. The offense was only 2 of 8 on third downs and failed on a critical fourth-and-1 run to the right side midway through the fourth quarter. They ran for 204 yards, but scored just 22 points, missing on an early two-point conversion.

And the defense was just, again, too confused too often. Carolina scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, moving 72 yards in eight plays to erase a 3-0 deficit, and then took a 14-3 lead with a 3-play, 55-yard drive. Quarterback Cam Newton completed 4 of 5 passes on those drives and tossed a pair of touchdowns.

Maybe the drive that hurt the most was the one that opened the second half. The Eagles led 15-14 at the half and then Colt Anderson made a tackle on the opening kickoff and that, plus a Carolina fumble, pushed the Panthers to their own 5-yard line. But Newton went to Brandon LaFell for a first down for 12 yards to get the Panthers out of their end zone, and then Newton went up top for Louis Murphy, who leaped over Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Kurt Coleman to make a sensational catch for a 55-yard gain to the Philadelphia 29-yard line.

Eight plays later, with six runs and a couple of incomplete  passes, Newton leaped into the end zone and Carolina went back on top, 21-15.

Oh, the Eagles were able to score another touchdown on a Brown run -- a drive aided by a 51-yard pass-interference penalty -- but Carolina was undaunted. They took the lead for good early in the fourth quarter after recovering Brown's second fumble, and then added some breathing-room points after stopping Brown on a fourth-and-1 run with just under nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter and then drove 60 yards, a drive that ended with a 2-yard Newton run and a 30-22 lead.

So what did we learn on this Monday night, a Hall of Fame night with former cornerback Troy Vincent and Eagles executive Leo Carlin being inducted? Foles made some progress and the Eagles need to see a lot more of him to know what he's all about. Brown has big-time talent and he needs to keep playing and working on his ball security. The defense continues to allow big plays and has gaping holes in communication. The offensive line played much better with Jake Scott at right guard, King Dunlap at left tackle and Dennis Kelly at right tackle. The passing game just doesn't have the kind of explosiveness needed to score quickly.

Most of all, we were reminded of the Golden Rule of Football: Thou Shalt Not Turn The Football Over And Expect To Win. It is a formula that just doesn't work, as the Eagles were reminded of once again on Monday night.

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