Defensive end Jason Babin posted a career-high 3.0 sacks Sunday to bolster his impressive total to 7.0 through just four games.
However, Babin would give each one of them back if it meant that the Eagles weren't on the losing end of a 24-23 decision Sunday to the 49ers. For the third straight week, the Eagles held a lead in the fourth quarter. In fact, the Eagles led 23-3 in the second half. But they couldn't put the game away.
Two weeks ago, it was a 10-point lead that evaporated in Atlanta. Last Sunday, it was a two-point advantage against the Giants. On Sunday, it was the 49ers rallying back and leaving the Eagles to talk about another fourth-quarter setback.
"When we put our foot on their throats, we have to finish them," Babin said. "If you let off, guess what, this is what happens."
"The fourth quarter is all about heart and we have that. We can't let the other teams get the momentum at all ... Our issue right now is we are unable to close out games. We have to be able to close out games," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "You can't come into that last quarter and not be able to pull it out, especially when you're winning."
The 49ers used big plays to get back in the contest. Four of five of the 49ers' longest plays of the afternoon came in the second half, in fact, each of those four occurred in the third quarter. Quarterback Alex Smith had a pedestrian first half, but lit it up in the second half going 13-for-17 for 201 yards and throwing two touchdowns. The run game also assisted as running back Frank Gore tied the game with a 12-yard run and also churned out a 25-yard gain in the fourth quarter.
"Getting your butt kicked in the beginning, maybe that's what you need when you have a bunch of talented guys," linebacker Brian Rolle said after making his first-career start. "We have to learn not to just start fast, but finish strong as well."
The Eagles acquired a lot of talent in the offseason, but now it's putting that talent together. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins was a part of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers just a year ago and they experienced adversity before catching fire heading into the playoffs.
"Success just doesn't come easy. You have to expect it and once you get it, you have to keep rolling with it. You have to keep it coming; you can't get happy or complacent once you get a little bit of it. I think that's what we're doing," Jenkins said. "Whether we start slow or we start late – whatever it is – we have to get it fixed and then we'll start playing good. Then, it's like everybody thinks 'Oh yeah, we have it now' and then, you know, we let it fall at the end. It's going to be up to us to get it together and expect to play four quarters of good football."
The Eagles are 1-3 heading into back-to-back games on the road (Buffalo, Washington) before the bye week. The season is only four games old, but these next two games could truly test the mettle of this team.
"We can't get down on ourselves," Rolle said. "There are a lot of games left in the season. Don't count us out."
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