The Seattle Seahawks entered Monday night's game with the second-ranked scoring offense in the league, averaging an eye-popping 31.8 points per game behind MVP contender Russell Wilson.
The Eagles lost 23-17 to fall to 3-7-1 on the season, but the defense played with relentless energy holding the Seahawks to their second-lowest point total of the season.
Wilson improved to 6-0 (including playoffs) against the Eagles, but in the last three matchups dating back to last season the Seahawks have scored a total of 57 points – fewer than 20 points per game.
"It's a team game. We just have to figure out a way to keep on encouraging each other. Keep fighting. Make sure we stay consistent on defense. We know the offense is going to get it right," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "I just saw Carson (Wentz). It means something to all of us. Obviously things haven't been happening the way we want it to, but at the same time, there is no quit in us and we have five games left."
Yes, a loss is still a loss, but the Eagles will need that same effort on Sunday afternoon in a nationally televised showdown with another MVP contender in Aaron Rodgers and the 8-3 NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers. Good news for the Eagles is that they went to Lambeau Field in a nationally televised (prime-time) matchup last season and returned home with a 34-27 triumph. It was Green Bay's only loss in the first two months of the season on the way to a 13-3 record.
We'll look ahead a little bit later, but first let's wrap up Monday night's loss in our Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft.
Microsoft Teams Top Connection
For the second week in a row, tight end Richard Rodgers is the recipient of the Top Connection honor. This photo doesn't do the catch justice. Quarterback Carson Wentz threw a "Hail Mary" into the end zone. Wide receiver Travis Fulgham leaped up and patted it – volleyball style – to Rodgers who, while on the ground, reached out with one arm and corralled it in. It provided a glimmer of hope with 12 seconds remaining.
1. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro: Offensive struggles continue
From the very start of the game, with all eyes watching, the Eagles tried to get quarterback Carson Wentz into a groove with short drops and the idea to get the football out of his hands quickly. On the Eagles' first play from scrimmage, Wentz threw late to tight end Richard Rodgers, who was open early in the play, but then he was covered by the time the football reached him. Incomplete. On second down, Wentz threw wide to open wide receiver Greg Ward, who was running a slant route from the left side of the formation. Incomplete. On third-and-10, Wentz attempted a throw to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery on the right side, but the pass wasn't on target and Jeffery couldn't make the play. Incomplete. Punt.
For five straight series, the Eagles failed to gain a first down and had a total of minus-1 net yards. Not until late in the second quarter did the Eagles manage a first down, by which time they were 14 points down and playing catchup football. In a replay of too many games this season, the formula proved ineffective as the Eagles fell to Seattle on Monday night, 23-17, the margin narrowed by a late touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers.
"Some things we just missed. We didn't execute. I can be better early in the game. They made some plays early and did some things differently than what we had planned. The slow starts are frustrating," said Wentz, who described the offense as "stagnant" in the first half. "That's the biggest thing I'm going to go back and watch and see how we can change that and how we can change the momentum early in ballgames and not put ourselves behind the eight ball like that."
At the end of the night, the Eagles were 3-7-1 and out of first place in the NFC East and the offense – the playcalling, the thrown-together offensive line, and, of course, Wentz – continued its search for answers. It's been that kind of season – one in which the offense just hasn't been able to reach the high level of production the team expected to have when the roster was put together in the spring and summer.
The Eagles averaged just 2.5 yards per pass attempt until that late touchdown drive and 3.1 yards per offensive play. All of the moving parts and all of the injuries have taken its toll on an offense that has scored 25 or more points just three times (San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore) in 11 games.
"I think it just comes down to … offensively I think we've battled a lot with injury, a lot of different moving parts up front with the offensive line, a lot of guys in and out. We just haven't had the consistency and the continuity that you would like week in and week out," Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "You look at offenses around the league that have stayed together and stayed healthy and there is continuity there, there is consistency, and we just haven't had that this season. We don't make excuses for it. It's where we are and we have to get better."
2. CB Darius Slay: 'I let the team down'
Cornerback Darius Slay relishes these moments – the one-on-one battles against star wide receivers in the national spotlight. However, the battle on Monday night against Seattle did not go Slay's way in Seattle's 23-17 win at Lincoln Financial Field: His opponent, wide receiver DK Metcalf, caught 10 passes for 177 yards on 13 targets, the biggest of the big plays a 52-yard catch on a throw from quarterback Russell Wilson that led to Seattle's first touchdown.
Metcalf was just too big and strong working against Slay, who oftentimes had good coverage but was unable to keep Metcalf from making the catch in a matchup that was physical and chippy from the very start.
"It was tough. The plays weren't going my way, but he did a great job of catching the ball," Slay said. "He did everything good as a receiver. I'll say this: This was by far my worst game I ever played in the league. I truly lost almost every 50/50 ball. I was probably an 0-fer. I've never been that. Props to him. He played his butt off today and I've just got to get better."
3. 10 immediate takeaways from the game
The Eagles started their 10th different offensive line combination in 11 games this season with Jordan Mailata at left tackle, Isaac Seumalo at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Jason Peters at right guard, and Matt Pryor at right tackle.
Kelce made his 100th consecutive start at center, the longest active streak in the NFL. Peters, the future Hall of Famer, made his first career start at right guard.
Wentz entered the game as the most-sacked quarterback in the league, going down 40 times. He was sacked six more times on Monday night and hit a dozen times in all. The Seahawks were effective blitzing safety Jamal Adams (nine tackles and a sack) and linebacker K.J. Wright (five tackles, two for loss, and a sack). Carlos Dunlap returned to Lincoln Financial Field with the Seahawks (he played for the Bengals earlier in the season) and got a half-sack.
Postgame Show: Eagles come up short on Monday night
The Eagles made it close, but another slow start on offense results in a 23-17 loss. Amy Campbell, Fran Duffy, and Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro recap the action on the Postgame Show presented by Ricoh.