Philadelphia Eagles News

Morning Roundup: No moral victories for the defense

Good morning, Eagles fans! The Eagles lost to the New England Patriots on Sunday evening by a final score of 17-10 at Lincoln Financial Field. The loss drops the team's record to 5-5, putting them in second place in the NFC East. After a quick 10-0 start by the Eagles, the Patriots scored 17 unanswered points leaving the Eagles’ offense scoreless through the final two-plus quarters of the game. In this edition of Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft, we will discuss all the stories from the Week 11 matchup. Let’s get right into it.

1. Spadaro: Offense cools after fast start

There really weren’t a whole lot of answers. Not immediately, anyway, after a disappointing 17-10 loss to New England on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field that dropped the Eagles to 5-5 on the season. An offense that started fast with a 51-yard drive (49 of them on a pass interference penalty) and a field goal on the first possession and a 16-play, 95-yard touchdown drive that consumed nine minutes and 33 seconds off the clock on the third drive put the team ahead 10-0 and sent a Salute to Service crowd into a frenzy went flat after that.

Like, totally flat.

“I can’t explain it other than it was us just making too many mistakes and not taking advantage of any plays that were there,” running back Miles Sanders said. “We couldn’t get anything going. We lost our focus and made it difficult on ourselves and shooting ourselves in the foot. I think we were beating ourselves.”

2. Game Recap: Eagles fall to Patriots, 17-10

The Patriots exacted revenge for their loss to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII with none other than a trick play. On a third-and-11 in the third quarter, quarterback Tom Brady took the snap out of the shotgun and threw the ball to wide receiver Julian Edelman along the numbers to the right side. Edelman, a quarterback in college at Kent State, found a wide-open Phillip Dorsett in the end zone to give the Patriots their first lead of the game, 17-10 with 10:49 remaining in the quarter. Recap the entire game here.

“The game turned for the Eagles after their final scoring play, a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Carson Wentz to tight end Dallas Goedert with 12:36 remaining in the first half. Initially, the referees ruled the scoring play an interception, as Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones ripped the ball away from Goedert, but not until the tight end possessed the ball and crossed the goal line. The play was overturned after a replay review.” – Chris McPherson

3. Carson Wentz: 'I have to be better than that'

Quarterback Carson Wentz was 20-of-40 for 214 yards with a touchdown and a lost fumble for a 74.4 QB rating. Following the game, Wentz agreed with the sentiment that the offense left a lot of plays out on the field.

“For sure. We definitely did," Wentz said. "The turnover I had, we can’t be doing that. I have to be better than that. We left some plays out there, missed some throws, a couple penalties. That’s football sometimes, but against a good team like that, we have to clean that up."

The Eagles were able to get off to a fast start with 10 points in their first three drives, but failed to tack on any additional points in the final 10 possessions. Following the touchdown drive, a 16-play, 95-yard march that ended with a Wentz 5-yard toss to tight end Dallas Goedert, the Eagles didn't get into Patriots' territory again until the fourth quarter.

"I wish I knew the answer to that," Wentz said when asked what the difference was after the touchdown drive. "On the first drive we had the big penalty (Boston Scott drew a 49-yard pass interference penalty), and on the second drive we were just able to mix it up really well with the run game, the screens, and just converting on third downs. It seemed after that we kind of just didn’t execute to the level that we expect to and that we need to against a good team like that."

The Eagles did lose tackle Lane Johnson to a head injury following the Goedert touchdown drive. Wentz was sacked five times, all after Johnson exited the game. Halapoulivaati Vaitai took over at right tackle, but he wasn’t the source of all the offense’s struggles.

"Not to discredit Lane at all because, shoot, he’s probably the best right tackle in football, but we feel we have really good depth at that position and with (Vaitai) being able to step in, I have a ton of confidence in him, so I don’t think that was the deal breaker by any means," Wentz said.

Still, the defense kept the Eagles in the game and the offense had a first-and-10 at the New England 26-yard line with 1:18 left in the game. Wentz was errant with two throws to tight end Zach Ertz, a short pass to Nelson Agholor was tipped, then on fourth-and-10, Wentz threw a dime against an all-out blitz in the back of the end zone that Agholor was unable to pull in.

"I didn’t get to really see it. They brought Cover 0," Wentz said. "I tried to give him a chance and we just missed it."

"The ball did travel weird, but at the end of the day, it’s the NFL and you’ve got find a way to track it down," Agholor said. "I thought I followed it and on the way down I kind of hit the ground pretty hard and moved it."

4. No moral victories for the Eagles’ stellar defense

While the final score did not show it, the Eagles’ defense played one of its best games of the season Sunday night. The defense had six quarterback hits on Tom Brady (who threw a career-high 14 incompletions in the first half), five passes defended, and one sack. Captain Malcolm Jenkins recognizes that his defense had a good performance, but he understands that there is always room for improvement to help this team win.

“We didn’t play well enough to win this game,” Jenkins said. “I thought we played well and definitely battled, but there were some drives that we needed to win the game and we didn’t make the play. We had a solid game, but just didn’t make enough plays.”

This defense held the Patriots to only nine points, all of which came off the foot of kicker Nick Folk, in the first half. They also did not allow four-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady to throw for any touchdowns. The last time New England did not score a touchdown in the first or second quarter of a game was in Week 8 of 2018 at Buffalo. It could be said that the defense put the offense in a great position to win this game, but at the end of the day the team couldn’t get the job done.

“At the end of the day it’s a loss. I’m saying we came in second. I’m a sore loser,” cornerback Jalen Mills said. “I hate losing and so do the guys on this team. We can’t pride ourselves on anything. We came up short and we have to come in on Tuesday, watch the film, and make the corrections. Next week we have a good opponent. We see Seattle coming in and they have a really good quarterback and a really good offense.”

5. How the loss of tackle Lane Johnson affected this game

All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson exited the game with a head injury after the Eagles' final scoring drive in the second quarter – a 16-play, 95-yard march that lasted nine minutes and thirty-three seconds. Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced Johnson, but after his exit there was definitely a shift in production.

“You don’t just replace a Lane Johnson, a guy with that kind of caliber,” said Brandon Brooks.

Prior to leaving the game, the team had not allowed any sacks on quarterback Carson Wentz. When Johnson left, the offensive line gave up five sacks in the remainder of the game. While this does not fall directly on anyone specific, it is noticeable the effect Johnson has on this group.

“Lane’s impact on our team is well documented,” wide receiver Jordan Matthews said. “It goes without saying that we need that guy out there. He is one of the best in the game, one of the best at what he does. His focus, attention to detail, but his grit, too, are all elite. When he’s not there, obviously we miss him but next man up.”

Take a look at the best photos from the Eagles' showdown against the Patriots.

6. Third-down offense struggles vs. Patriots

The Eagles entered the game with the league's third-best third-down offense, converting at a 48.4 percent clip this season. The Patriots boasted the best third-down defense, allowing offenses to convert a mere 18.9 percent of the time.

Something had to give, and New England decidedly won this game within the game, as the Eagles were successful on just 3-of-13 third-down chances for a season-low 23 percent.

“Something that we definitely pride ourselves on is third downs, and we didn’t do it well today, plain and simple," Wentz said. "They outplayed us on that down. I got fooled a couple of times and I have to be better. Like I said it starts with me. That’s something that we have to take a hard look at and get it fixed."

“I think we kind of beat ourselves at times. Obviously, we had penalties and it was probably one of our worst third-down performances of the season," tight end Zach Ertz said. "We just weren’t efficient on third-down against a really good third-down defense. We came into the game with a lot of confidence on our third-down performance and we just didn’t execute, and we had penalties. They are a good defense. It’s tough to go 90 yards at times against them. We did it once, but we just couldn’t do it again."

7. Run game grounded without Jordan Howard

The Eagles rushed for at least 100 yards in their last four games entering Sunday, but that streak came to a halt against the Patriots. With Jordan Howard sidelined due to a shoulder injury, Miles Sanders, Scott, and Wentz combined for 81 yards on 21 carries, a 3.9 yards per carry average.

Tack on that the Eagles were minus leading wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, Sanders only touched the ball 13 times (11 carries, 38 rushing yards; two catches, 9 yards). Jay Ajayi, who signed on Friday, suited up but did not play.

"You'd obviously like to maybe run it a few more times," Pederson said. "Sometimes you get in a game like this and when it's – again, you're either second-and-10 or second and 11, maybe second-and-9. You're not staying ahead, you know what I mean?

"That was kind of our struggle in the run game tonight, something we have to look at and fix before next week."

Patriots safety Devin McCourty said that the run defense was a point of emphasis for New England after getting gashed for 210 yards on the ground two weeks ago by the Ravens.

"You go out there two weeks ago and play bad against the run, we knew Philly was going to come here and try to run the ball and see if we fixed that," McCourty said. "It’s going to be the same thing next week when we play Dallas. They’re going to test us in the run game, see if they can get some things that happened two weeks ago and early in the season. We know the key is trying to stop the run and make a team one-dimensional and then we are able to get in our different packages. That’s going to be a week-to-week thing of trying to stop the run."

8. ICYMI

Jake Elliott improved to 13-of-13 on field goal attempts this season. He is the first kicker in team history to start a season with 13 straight field goals. Elliott’s streak of 14 consecutive field goals (dating back to 2018) is the eighth-longest in franchise history.

Carson Wentz led the Eagles on a 16-play, 95-yard TD drive that took 9:33 off the clock and gave Philadelphia a 10-0 advantage in the second quarter. The possession ended with a 5-yard TD pass to Dallas Goedert, who leads the team with a career-high four receiving touchdowns. According to NFL Research, it was the longest TD drive by yardage that the Patriots have allowed since a 99-yard drive on October 2, 2011 at Oakland.

The Eagles' defense limited New England to 17 points, 298 total net yards, 224 passing yards, and 74 rushing yards. The Patriots only converted 5-of-16 (31.3 percent) third-down attempts.

New England’s 17 points marked its second-lowest scoring output of the season.

Quarterback Tom Brady was limited to a 67.3 passer rating. Sunday marked the second time this season that Brady has been held without a passing TD or rushing TD.

Zach Ertz led the Eagles with a season-high-tying nine receptions for 94 yards. This is the third instance in Ertz’s career where he has registered at least nine catches and 90-plus yards in back-to-back games.

Miles Sanders (1,002 all-purpose yards in 2019) became just the third player in Eagles history to produce 1,000+ all-purpose yards in their first 10 career games, joining DeSean Jackson in 2008 (1,085) and Ted Dean in 1960 (1,066).

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