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No Answers After Stunning Defeat

You don't have enough fingers to point to the problems the Eagles had on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. They were awful offensively early in the game and then awful defensively late. A collective effort combined to turn a 23-13 advantage after Michael Vick connected with Jeremy Maclin for a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

At that point, Lincoln Financial Field was a deliriously happy place, and a 4-2 record heading into the bye week seemed extremely possible.

After all, what good team loses after holding a 10-point lead with 5 minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter?

The jury, of course, is still out on whether the Eagles are a good team. There are so many concerns with this team after watching it for six games, after studying the ups and downs of a squad living on the edge every minute of every game.

Bottom line: The Eagles lost to a Detroit team that committed 16 penalties and that looked dumbfounded offensively in the first three quarters, and then absolutely unstoppable in the fourth quarter and in overtime. It was an absurd defeat, one that provides the first, true "crossroads" moment of the 2012 season.

The tough part for all of us is absorbing this for two weeks as the Eagles have a bye week and the 6-0 Falcons waiting on October 28.

Tough spot.

So what happened on Sunday? The script was a familiar one for this season: The Eagles play poorly offensively through much of the first half, only to cobble together some momentum heading into halftime with a Vick touchdown pass to LeSean McCoy on a screen pass. A lead! Even though it was 7-6, the Eagles had the ball back in the third quarter and, well, if the previous five games were any indication the Eagles would finally get it going in the third quarter.

They did, but not enough. Two trips into the red zone produced just two Alex Henery field goals, and instead of leading convincingly, the Eagles nursed a 13-6 lead into the fourth quarter. Another Henery field goal, from 49 yards, made it 16-6 early in the fourth quarter. The Eagles were 13:39 away from a win and a place on top of the NFC East heading into the bye week.

Then the Lions woke up. They drove 80 yards in plays for a touchdown in 3:09. Too easy. After the Vick touchdown pass to Maclin to make it 23-13, the defense failed to get off the field for the remainder of the game.

Detroit took it 80 yards in 7 plays in less than two minutes to make it 23-20. After a lousy Brandon Boykin kickoff return -- to the 12-yard line -- the offense burned exactly 1:05 in a three-and-out series. First, McCoy failed to get out of bounds on a catch and run up the sideline. Then Bryce Brown was stopped for no gain, and on third down Vick's short pass intended for Maclin was knocked down by Ndamukong Suh, stopping the clock and the drive.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, terrible for three quarters, moved the Lions from their 32-yard line to the Philadelphia 1-yard line, and the defense did good job holding the Lions to a field goal and a chance at overtime.

Philadelphia opened overtime with the football and it was a disaster. Vick was sacked on his first two snaps and then threw the ball out of bounds on third down and Mat McBriar punted from the back of his end zone. Detroit took over the football at the 50-yard line and won the game on Jason Hanson's 45-yard field goal.

The problems, then, are extensive. The offensive line was dominated by the Detroit front four, and McCoy was held to just 22 rushing yards on 14 carries. The early offense again produced no points -- just seven first-quarter points this season -- and Vick and Co. turned the ball over three times. One turnover was a where-did-it-come-from? Dallas Reynolds snap that Vick wasn't ready for, one came when Vick overthrew Jason Avant in Detroit territory, and one came when Vick's deep ball to a kind-of-open DeSean Jackson was blown into an interception by a cross-the-field wind.

The defense, meanwhile, is worth of some questions. After using Nnamdi Asomugha against wide receiver Calvin Johnson for much of the first half and into the third quarter, the Eagles mixed up their coverages and the Lions adjusted, running Johnson out of the slot on crossing routes and finding him in the fourth quarter. Johnson caught 4 passes for 70 yards in the fourth quarter and another in overtime for 17 yards.

Most concerning is the lack of pass pressure. Where are the sacks? This wasn't a game where Stafford dropped back and threw the ball on three steps. Uh-uh. The Eagles just didn't get home with their four-man pass rush, and while Asomugha insisted after the game that the defense blitzed in the fourth quarter, nothing came close to Stafford. The Eagles have just 7 sacks in 6 games after registering 50 last year.

Special teams? Henery was great with three field goals and four touchbacks, and McBriar had a couple of boomers late in the fourth quarter and then in overtime, but the return game is producing nothing. The Eagles tried using Mardy Gilyard in the punt game and even used DeSean Jackson once, but got nothing.

Add it up and the 26-23 loss was the most disappointing of the season, and too reminiscent of the 2011 disappointment. All of that cushion the Eagles built in a 3-1 start to the season is gone. The Giants lead the NFC East, and the Redskins have shown a lot of toughness in the face of some injuries.

The Eagles? Still trying to figure out what they are. Once again, the Eagles are lacking an identity and they have twice in the last two weeks been unable to hold late-game leads. The defense has been on the field with a chance to clinch the win five times in six games, and have held on three times.

Why are the Eagles unable to put teams away? Where is the offensive explosiveness, the Maclln catch and run notwithstanding. The defense isn't generating pressure on the quarterback or takeaways, and by the way the run-challenged Lions rushed for a mind-boggling 138 yards on Sunday.

It's not going to be a pleasant two weeks, for sure. Head coach Andy Reid has a ton of work to do. The Eagles are in a precarious situation. The season is far from over, but the Eagles have to turn things around and keep it that way for a sustained period of time.

The loss to Detroit was a shocker, a stunner, and a huge disappointment. Maybe it serves as a wake-up call, but haven't we been talking about that for three seasons now? If the Eagles aren't awake by now, there are going to be real, dramatic, deep-rooted problems ahead.

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