Early this season, giveaways plagued the Eagles' offense, with Philadelphia averaging 2.7 of them per game through Week 6. But since then they had largely quelled their turnover woes, notching more than one in a game just a single time in the seven contests that followed. But in Sunday's 40-17 home loss to the Cardinals, the Eagles fell back into bad habits, finishing with a season-high four turnovers.
Sam Bradford completed 28 of his 41 pass attempts and threw for 361 yards, coming within 16 yards of a career high he set in December 2012. He tossed two touchdowns, looking sharp throughout the game, but his three turnovers – two through the air and one by way of a sack and fumble, negated those successes, at least as far as the game's final result was concerned. But head coach Chip Kelly expressed optimism when asked after the game about the performance of the 28-year-old signal-caller.
"I thought Sam played well," said Kelly. "I thought he threw the ball well tonight. He got hit, but he stayed in there. I thought he got flushed, from my standpoint, on the interception, and then just threw it behind (the receiver)."
More worrisome for Kelly were the variety of defensive issues the team had throughout the game. Philadelphia gave up 493 yards to Carson Palmer and the Arizona offense. And rookie running back David Johnson was able to gain 187 yards on 29 carries with three touchdowns, in addition to Palmer's 274 yards and one score through the air.
Missed tackles plagued the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, and Philadelphia's front seven failed to get much pressure for the majority of the game. The team lost starting cornerbacks Byron Maxwell (shoulder) and Eric Rowe (concussion) in the first half due to injury, but despite the understandable burden that their absence placed on the defense, Chip Kelly was displeased with his team's self-inflicted wounds on both sides of the ball.
"Unfortunately, there are no asterisks," he said when asked if he looks at this week's loss differently because of the injuries. "The biggest disappointment is that we didn't tackle well, and that's really where I look at it. Defensively we didn't tackle, and offensively we turned the ball over."
The Eagles have a short week in front of them, with a Saturday night meeting with the Washington Redskins in six days serving as the game that will likely determine the winner of the NFC East. While Philadelphia cannot clinch the division crown with a win over Washington – although the Redskins can with a victory of their own, a loss would eliminate the Eagles from postseason contention. For that reason, Kelly believes it is more imperative than ever that his team focuses its attention solely on the task most immediately in their way, even though they'll need another win – or help from other teams – in Week 17 to win the NFC East.
"It's (about) if we win that one (game). It doesn't matter about two, it matters about one," he said. "If we don't take care of business on Saturday, there isn't a second game to really talk about."
The Sunday Night Football showdown against the Cardinals kicked off with the Eagles sporting their #BackInBlack uniforms. View the full gallery here...