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Run Defense Struggles At Worst Time


Sunday night's 40-17 loss to the Cardinals is one that Eagles fans will want to quickly forget.

But the enduring image of the game, one that will likely remain etched in the minds of the 69,596 in attendance and the millions watching at home for the next six days, will be that of rookie running back David Johnson breaking seven tackles to turn what should have been a 2-yard gain into a 47-yard touchdown in the second quarter. That scoring play broke a 10-10 tie and was the first blow in what snowballed into a 27-point run by the Cardinals.

Tackling was an issue for the Eagles all night, and it was something just about everyone, from head coach Chip Kelly down to the players, talked about after the game.

"The biggest disappointment is that we didn't tackle well," said Kelly when asked about his team's performance. "In games where we haven't been successful defensively, it has come down to that ... I just know flat out we didn't tackle well."

Defensive coordinator Bill Davis was surprised by the issues on his side of the ball, especially after coming off solid performances against the Patriots and Bills.

"I don't know where it came from, but we have to stop it before Washington," he said, referring to the team's must-win home meeting with the Redskins on Saturday. "Tackling will be an emphasis this week. You are not going to win many games when you're tackling like that ... We have to see who, how and why?"

David Johnson was able to gain 187 yards on 29 carries against the Eagles, scoring three touchdowns in the process. He's the fourth rusher Philadelphia has allowed to hit the century mark this season, and he's just the seventh the franchise has allowed to score three rushing touchdowns in a game in the past 40 seasons. It was the 24-year-old's first 100-yard outing as a pro.

"Tackling is something we didn't do well tonight, and when you play a good running back he's going to make plays," said safety Malcolm Jenkins. "At the point of attack, someone missed a tackle, doesn't fit the gap right or overruns it. For whatever reason, we couldn't get it adjusted until it was too late."

Early in the season, the Eagles boasted one of the best run defenses in the league. But with two weeks to go in the regular season, they've fallen into the bottom-five in rushing yards allowed. Although the battle on Sunday was basically over before Philadelphia could even react to what had hit them, there is still time for the team to come away victorious in the war.

At 6-8, the Eagles enter the final two weeks of the season with a chance to take the NFC East crown with consecutive wins to close out the year. Even with just a single win – against Washington this Saturday – and some help in Week 17, Philadelphia could earn a playoff berth. And with a Redskins team that ranks 28th in the league in yards per carry (3.6) coming to town, the Eagles are hoping to bounce back in a big way defensively.

"We have to get some rest and dive back into this," said Jenkins. "If we don't stop the run, we will have a hard time stopping anybody. We have to take a look at the tape, swallow this and move on."

The Sunday Night Football showdown against the Cardinals kicked off with the Eagles sporting their #BackInBlack uniforms. View the full gallery here...

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