SEATTLE – It just didn't feel right from the very start of the game on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks took the first offensive possession down the field for a field goal and a couple of possessions later put together a touchdown drive. The Eagles offense was off kilter. There were too many penalties, too many missed tackles, too many missed chances for touchdowns in a 24-10 loss in Seattle.
And it didn't look right on the scoreboard, either, as Seattle ended the Eagles' winning streak at nine games with the decision in prime time, the first of three road games for the NFC-East leading Birds.
The team's playoff magic number remains at one after a game was just too sloppy and off-track.
Philadelphia's offense entered the game leading the NFL in points scored (31.9), but mustered only 10 against Seattle's tough, physical defense that tackled extremely well and pressured quarterback Carson Wentz with some timely blitzes. The Eagles ran the ball decently enough, gaining 91 yards on 19 carries in the first half, but they didn't do much of anything in the passing game, accumulating just 45 yards on 13 Wentz passing attempts.
Two trips into the red zone netted only 3 points and a giveaway, the Eagles' first of the season inside the opponents' 20-yard line, and it came at an awful time when a first-possession drive in the second half ended on a Wentz fumble out of the end zone.
And even when the Eagles came to life early in the fourth quarter when Wentz sparked a touchdown drive with a falling-down, how-did-he-do-it 51-yard yard completion to Nelson Agholor that put the Eagles in scoring position and then followed with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Agholor to cut the deficit to 17-10, the defense couldn't corral the magic of quarterback Russell Wilson.
He was at his best on the ensuing possession, driving Seattle 73 yards on 10 plays and throwing his third touchdown pass of the night in a series that saw him dash away from the Eagles' pass-rush pressure to deliver dagger after dagger into Philadelphia's chances to get the Seahawks offense off the field.
On one particularly ridiculous play, a third-and-8 snap, Wilson ran for 6 yards and then lateraled to running back Michael Davis for another 17 yards and you could just see the Eagles' defensive players dragging, exhausted and frustrated. Wilson completed 4 of 6 passes on the drive, including the 15-yard scoring strike to running back J.D. McKissic, who cleanly beat linebacker Mychal Kendricks for the easy catch and touchdown.
The Eagles are still only a win away from clinching the NFC East, and they are now tied with Minnesota for the best record in the NFC, at 10-2.
It was a tough way to go down after so many dominating performances. The Eagles wanted to show a prime-time audience that they were ready for the cauldron at CenturyLink Field, and that they had the weapons to combat a very physical Seattle defense and the Wilson-centric Seahawks offense.
Turned out that the Eagles fell short on all counts.
"It doesn't change who we are," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "We had our chances and we didn't capitalize. Offensively we didn't put the ball in the end zone and defensively we didn't get off the field enough. It's disappointing, but we have another big game next week in Los Angeles and we have to prepare well for that one and go out and have a great game."
The Eagles weren't going to run the table, so in the big picture they all spoke in the locker room afterward of dusting themselves off and getting back on track against the Rams. But the loss on Sunday night left a bitter taste because the Eagles didn't bring their "A" game and they knew they needed to be at that level against the Seahawks, who are now 8-4.
said. "That part of it is disappointing. You're going to have your ups and downs in the course of a season. The key is bouncing back the right way."
Wentz was 20 of 32 for 303 yards in the second half, and he threw a gorgeous touchdown pass to Agholor, but the turnover early in the third quarter was crushing, and a late-game interception on a heave into the end zone typified the disappointing night.
"We came here to win and we didn't get that done," Wentz said. "That's disappointing."
So what happened? Seattle was physical and aggressive on defense and limited any "chunk" opportunities in the first half. Two trips to the red zone netted only a field goal for the offense. Wentz's fumble out of the end zone, followed by Seattle's touchdown drive, put the Eagles in a 17-3 hole. After the touchdown pass to Agholor, the Eagles were only a touchdown down, but the defense couldn't stop Wilson.
And that's, basically, what happened. There were some penalties that were questionable, and the Eagles lost one challenge and maybe, possibly could have challenged a Wilson lateral to Davis that gained a first down, but the 60-minute performance boiled down into bullet points is that the Eagles simply made too many mistakes.
"We were too sloppy in every phase," center Jason Kelce said. "We knew what kind of game we had to play and we didn't play it. We have a lot of football left here and we're going to have big games and so we need to step up and play our best down the stretch. This doesn't change that. It's just tough to lose a game when we had our chances. Now it's on to L.A. and another challenge against the Rams."
The first leg of a three-game road trip did not go as planned. For the first time since the loss to Kansas City, the Eagles tasted defeat. How they bounce back will define the season.
"We know we're a good team and we know we're going to bounce back," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "This feeling, it ain't a good one. The best way to get rid of it is to have a great week of practice and beat Los Angeles. That's what we're aiming to do."