The Eagles never saw this coming. After a week to rest and what defensive end Jason Babin called a great week of practice, the Eagles defense expected to come out firing against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon. Instead, they allowed the Falcons to score on each of their first six possessions of the game, surrendering 252 total yards in the first half and ultimately falling at home 30-17.
"The work we put in, the preparation we put in? You couldn't tell me we would play like that," said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who admitted that he was partially responsible for the Falcons' opening drive touchdown, a 15-yard completion from Matt Ryan to D.J. Davis in the back corner of the end zone. "If you look at today, I felt like we took a step backwards. Coming off a bye week, having two weeks to rest, prepare, going out there we know what's at stake and for us to play like that? There's no progress from that. We took a step backwards."
There were no excuses in the locker room following the game, only disappointment and embarrassment. Ryan compiled a 137.4 quarterback rating on 22-of-29 passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, the Falcons rushed for 146 total yards for a 3.9 yards-per-carry average. There were failures in coverage, tackling and discipline, as the Eagles extended several Falcons drives with third-down penalties. The Falcons were also 6-of-7 on third down conversions in the first half.
Those disappointments fall not on the coaching, but on the players, said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who was also victimized on a touchdown, a 63-yard Julio Jones catch and run down the left sideline.
"I didn't see any confusion, we were just doing things we haven't done really all year," said Asomugha. "We haven't tackled poorly, we haven't covered poorly, we haven't had the issues even in the run game with those long plays. We were just doing things that we hadn't really done all year.
"It's embarrassing. It's embarrassing to come out and to put that out there. We're a better team than what we showed today."
The only solace for the Eagles after a loss like the one suffered under the looming specter of Hurricane Sandy is that there is still time. As middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans said, the season is no longer in the early stages, but there is still time for a turnaround.
"Yes, (our problems) are fixable," said Ryans. "We just have to be honed up on what we're doing. Attention to detail and when it's that time, you have to step up and make the play on third down.
"It's not slipping away. You take this thing one week at a time. We can easily turn it around, it's just, turn it around now. The sense of urgency has to happen right now. It's not slipping downhill. We just have things to correct, things to get better at. We need to get better really quick at those things."
For the third straight game and the fourth straight week, the Eagles will have to dwell on the feeling of a loss. Until next Monday night's game in New Orleans against the Saints, the Eagles are a sub-.500 team.
"The game was bad," said Asomugha. "This team isn't bad though. This is a good team. Unfortunately, we show stuff like that and then the question is, well are you? But we believe in ourselves. We know we're a good team. An effort like we put out today, it's just not us.
"We're better than an 8-8 team. We're a postseason team. We've got the talent. We've got the coaching. It's just disappointing showing what we did today. Embarrassing. That's just not us."
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