Philadelphia Eagles News

Eagles Fall Flat In Raiders' Black Hole

OAKLAND -- The "Black Hole" of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum swallowed up the Eagles on Sunday. Sucked the life right out of them. Took an offense that averaged 31.8 points per game and limited it to a few field goals. Shut down the young, talented pass-receiving corps that had played so well through the opening four games. Moved the ball well enough against the defense to win the battle of field position and shock the Eagles, 13-9, to drop Philadelphia to 3-2.

No doubt about it, the Raiders deserved the victory. They were, as head coach Andy Reid said afterward, the better team in every phase. They went after quarterback Donovan McNabb hard, turning the tables with a well-executed series of blitzes and sacking him six times, knocking him down another half-dozen times and limiting an offense that had lived on big plays to one that was, well, a disaster.

That's what it was on Sunday. It was a disaster.

"We weren't able to answer the question and pick up the blitzes and get enough time. I think there were opportunities in the game that we didn't take advantage of," said McNabb, who completed 22 of 46 passes for 269 yards. "They knocked us out of rhythm and credit them for their scheme.

'I can speak for myself and should speak for everybody: I'm embarrassed about the way we came out here and played."

From the very start, it was clear that the Eagles were going to be in for a tough day. Oakland played with some energy and went right after McNabb. Still, well, the Eagles figured to gain some momentum and keep it and put the Raiders away at some point. But that time never came. Asante Samuel picked off JaMarcus Russell in the first quarter and the Eagles had possession at Oakland's 29-yard line with a chance to take a lead. Didn't happen, as David Akers missed the first of two field goals, a 43-yarder.

On the next possession, Akers booted a 45-yard field goal to cap a drive highlighted by a McNabb strike of 51 yards to DeSean Jackson and the Eagles held a 3-0 lead. That lasted all of one play. Russell went to tight end Zach Miller, in coverage against Jeremiah Trotter, and Miller made the catch, eluded Samuel, shrugged off Trotter's tackle and got free down the sideline for an 86-yard catch-and-run touchdown.


For the rest of the game, the Eagles chased and never caught up. The offensive line was overpowered, particularly when left tackle Jason Peters went out of the game with a knee injury. He was replaced by King Dunlap, who had a tough introduction to his first extended NFL time. It wasn't just on Dunlap up front: The whole line took a beating. The Raiders blitzed, and blitzed some more, and the Eagles offense failed to get anything going other than a few screens to Westbrook and a 42-yard catch and run by Brent Celek.

Everyone shared in the blame. The Eagles didn't get off the field enough on defense. The special teams were solid, but the return game wasn't very effective. Oakland's Shane Lechler averaged 51.1 yards and 42.1 yards net on seven punts and changed field position.

Mostly, though, the offense left Oakland feeling it had not done enough. The Eagles didn't run the ball much -- just 14 carries for 67 yards -- and repeatedly tried to keep throwing the football and taking away from some good situations. Second-and-2 snaps too often turned into third-and-long situations because the Raiders shut down the passing game.

The young duo of Jackson and Jeremy Maclin had little impact, combining for 7 catches and 100 yards. To be fair, Jackson caught 6 passes for 94 yards and did his thing, but Maclin was shut down by the heavy pressure up front.

How does it get better for the Eagles at the line of scrimmage? Peters is scheduled for an MRI on Monday to see if there is any structural damage in his left knee, but he said after the game that he hoped to play against Washington. Todd Herremans could be ready for the Redskins. The big mystery is Stacy Andrews, a high-priced free agent who is clearly not part of the picture in the guard rotation.

After the game, the Eagles said what you would expect them to say, that they are a "better team than that" and that things don't always go your way during a long season. All of that is true. The Eagles are going to win a game or two you don't expect them to win, and Sunday they lost a game that everybody thought they would win.

There were enough signs, though, that said the Eagles weren't as buttoned-up on the details when they played Oakland. The receivers dropped a half-dozen passes. The defense missed tackles. The offense didn't take advantage of great scoring opportunities. Oakland targeted Trotter and made him play pass coverage nearly every time he was on the field, and Oakland took advantage of that matchup.

How about this number? The Eagles converted 2 of 16 third downs. Terrible, just terrible.

"It wasn't a matter of what they did," said Westbrook, who accounted for 141 of the team's 283 total net yards, "as what we didn't do."

I agree. The Eagles didn't come to play with the urgency they needed to have. The coaches didn't adjust to the Raiders blitz and find ways to back Oakland away from the line of scrimmage. The Eagles committed some of the dumbest penalties you will ever see -- Example A: Samuel retaliating against a Raiders receiver who shoved him 20 yards away from the play, giving Oakland a first down at the Philadelphia 12-yard line -- and they did not have the necessary edge.

Said Reid after the game in a terse, brief press conference: "The Raiders out-coached us and they outplayed us in every phase of the game. My hat's off to them. They did a heck of a job and we didn't. It's that simple."

It was an inexcusable loss for the Eagles, who now must regroup for the stretch of the season that gets tougher and tougher each week. Three straight games against the NFC East will help tell the tale of the season. And the Eagles had better bring their "A" game every week, or they will suffer the same fate they were dealt on Sunday when they were swallowed by the "Black Hole" of Oakland.

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