NEW ORLEANS -- On the verge of scoring a touchdown and taking a lead early on Monday night against the Saints, the Eagles made the kind of mistake that has plagued them for two years now, and one that turned the game against New Orleans around in a hurry.
On a second-and-goal play from the Saints 6-yard line, quarterback Michael Vick dropped back to pass and, under some pressure, threw left for tight end Brent Celek, who ran an out route just outside the hash mark on that side of the field. Vick's pass was a bit off target and Celek, covered tightly, could only reach out his right hand to try to make the catch. The pass glanced off of his hand and right into the clutches of cornerback Patrick Robinson, who made the interception and returned it 99 yards up the sideline in front of the Eagles bench for a touchdown and a 7-0 New Orleans advantage.
"It was a horrible feeling to look up and see him (Robinson) running the other way," said a dejected Celek after the game.
Just like that, the Saints had all kinds of momentum. And the Eagles, who scored just two field goals in five red-zone chances in the 28-13 defeat, were at the beginning of a dreadful night inside the New Orleans 20-yard line.
On the next possession, the Eagles drove 76 yards to the New Orleans 4-yard line, but three plays from there -- a Bryce Brown run for no gain, a middle screen to LeSean McCoy and an incomplete pass to DeSean Jackson -- failed to move the ball at all, and the Eagles settled for an Alex Henery field goal.
From 7-3, the Saints dominated the remainder of the first half, taking a 21-3 advantage into the locker room.
A Brandon Graham sack and forced fumble and a Vick touchdown pass to Jackson got the Eagles back into the game, and then the special teams stepped up with a fumble recovery on the ensuing kickoff. A Vick scramble gave the Eagles a first-and-goal situation, but the Eagles again couldn't convert.
On first down from the 8-yard line, Vick threw incomplete in the end zone for Jackson. Then Vick was blitzed -- the Eagles had an empty backfield and the Saints had an automatic blitz and the Eagles didn't account for the extra pass rushers -- and was sacked for a huge loss. A throw into the back of the end zone for Jeremy Maclin was too high, and the Eagles blew another chance to score a touchdown.
New Orleans came right back with a scoring drive to regain momentum.
The red-zone woes, as much as anything, were to blame for this costly loss. The Eagles have scored 10 touchdowns in 27 red-zone chances, which puts them right around the bottom of the league in that category after their zero-for-5 night.
"We should score on four of those possessions," said Celek. "It's inexcusable. It comes down to execution and we're just not executing."
The Eagles, who led the league in red-zone turnovers last season, are tied with Detroit in the same category with five giveaways.
"We had our chances," said wide receiver DeSean Jackson. "It's so frustrating, but we have to keep fighting and working hard. We don't have any other choice. To miss that many chances, man, it hurt us bad and it cost us the game. We have to score touchdowns there."