Sunday night's game was a tough pill to swallow for the Eagles. Pitted against the Arizona Cardinals, a team that entered Lincoln Financial Field with an 11-2 record, the Eagles hung close in the first half before the Cardinals pulled away with the 40-17 victory.
One of the biggest bright spots for the Eagles in the prime-time defeat was the bounce-back performance from Jordan Matthews.
In his last five games, the Eagles' wide receiver tallied a grand total of 149 yards on 16 catches. Facing one of the top defenses in the NFL, Matthews broke out for his biggest game of the season, hauling in eight passes for a career-best 159 yards and a 78-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
The long touchdown brought the Eagles back within 20 points, but it ultimately wasn't enough of a momentum swing to keep the Eagles in the game. Matthews broke down the big play, highlighting the importance of tight end Zach Ertz on the quick-strike score.
"When you have a guy like Ertz, the safeties have to come down on him," Matthews explained after the game. "He demands a lot of attention.
"I'm not going to explain the route concept and the whole thing, but at the end of the day, the safety had to come down because of Ertz and I was able to slide through the defense. They probably thought that I was going underneath but I took it deep, and then Sam (Bradford) placed the ball perfectly … he saw I was wide open and gave me an easy catch, and that was all she wrote."
The Cardinals lead at the half was just seven points, though the Eagles did have a chance to tie the game just before the half, only to come up empty when a fourth-and-1 Ryan Mathews run was sniffed out at the line of scrimmage. Things then took a drastic turn into the Cardinals' favor. Aided by Eagles turnovers and missed tackles left and right, Arizona scored 20 straight points to grab a 37-10 lead.
The Eagles ultimately fell by 23 points, but according to Matthews, there were still a number of positives for the Eagles to take from the performance.
"The Cardinals are a great team," Matthews said. "I don't want to take anything away from them. I'm still optimistic heading into next week because when you look at it, we really beat ourselves … We should be really optimistic because I feel like there were a lot of points that we left out there. It's not like they just came here and shut us down and stopped us in all facets of the game. We moved the ball but we turned the ball over at really bad times. We really beat ourselves in this one, so we need to go back and look at it and then find a way to win these last two weeks."
At 6-8, the Eagles' playoff window remains open, but the team must win its final two games of the season - at home versus Washington and on the road against New York - to take home the team's second NFC East title in the last three seasons. Nothing is going to be handed to the Eagles, but Matthews believes that the team has the right mindset heading into the most important two games of the 2015 season.
"We still have life," Matthews said. "Everything is right in front of us, and like I said, in a game like this, it's not as demoralizing because we really beat ourselves … I'm really optimistic and I know that all the guys are too."
The Sunday Night Football showdown against the Cardinals kicked off with the Eagles sporting their #BackInBlack uniforms. View the full gallery here...