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Spadaro: No mincing words for disappointed Eagles after tough loss to Saints

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

There was no mincing words for the Eagles after their 20-10 loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Saints, a loss that dropped the team to 13-3 for the season with the magic number for clinching home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs remaining at one (win).

They were angry.

They were disappointed.

They were frustrated.

"We played terrible. That's that," wide receiver DeVonta Smith said. "We didn't execute. We didn't go out there and do the things we're supposed to do. Had small penalties that set us back. Just played bad."

"It's definitely frustrating," wide receiver A.J. Brown said. "That was definitely a winnable game."

"Disappointed. Pissed off," center Jason Kelce said.

New Orleans set the tone for the day when it took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards on 15 plays, converting 3 of 4 third downs and a fourth down and scoring on a Taysom Hill 1-yard run to cap a drive that consumed 8 minutes, 58 seconds off the clock. Philadelphia's offense never really got into a rhythm and in the first half, it was just unable to get anything going. Witness ...

• Philadelphia didn't gain its first first down until there were 12 seconds remaining in the second quarter, opening the game with four consecutive three-and-out offensive series.

• The Eagles gained just 61 total net yards in the first half and went 1 of 5 on third downs

• Running back Miles Sanders gained 9 yards on 2 rushing attempts in that half and quarterback Gardner Minshew was sacked five times in the half, completing 6 of 10 passes for 69 yards.

Tough outing, to say the least.

"We just couldn't get rolling," Minshew said. "It is one of those things that you try and get that first, first down and we kept shooting ourselves in the foot and getting in our own way. They are a good defense, too. There is not much room for error when you play a team like that. We didn't do enough to win."

Minshew eventually put some points on the board – a 9-play, 53-yard drive to open the third quarter yielded a field goal and a 78-yard catch-and-run connection to Brown that brought the Eagles to within 13-10 late in the third quarter sparked some hope that the Eagles could rally and do just enough in the fourth quarter to win the game, but it was not to be.

Philadelphia had its best chance in the fourth quarter when it took possession at its 41-yard line with 10 minutes, one second remaining. Sanders gained a yard on a first-down run and then Minshew threw to Smith for 5 yards on second down. On third-and-4, Sanders gained 3 yards to the 50-yard line on a run to the left side, and the Eagles went for it on fourth down.

A Minshew quarterback sneak was stuffed and New Orleans took possession.

"There was a mess of bodies in there that is pretty typical on that play," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said. "We have been pretty darn successful on that play this year, and it didn't work out on that particular one. I'm going to have to look at that, because there were just so many guys in the box. But give them credit. They stopped it and they made a play, and we didn't."

The Eagles' defense held after the exchange of possessions and the offense had control of the football again at its 9-yard line a few minutes later. But a second down throw from Minshew intended for Brown on the left side was intercepted and returned 12 yards for a score by Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore and that quieted the crowd and gave New Orleans a 20-10 advantage.

"We ran that same play earlier and it was the same coverage and they made a great adjustment to jump the route," Minshew said. "I should have seen that leverage when we made the motion. I assumed since it was the same coverage, (Lattimore) was going to play it the same, but he made a great adjustment and made the play to beat us."

Now it's on to Week 18 and another chance to clinch the No. 1 seed in the postseason, a bye during Super Wild Card Weekend and the chance to host the NFC postseason at Lincoln Financial Field. It was difficult for some to think of the positives after such a tough loss, but defensive end Brandon Graham sure did. He's been through this before – in 2017 the Eagles struggled down the stretch a bit but ended up winning the Super Bowl – and he knows the important thing is keeping the big picture in mind.

"Don't panic. Don't start doing stuff that's uncharacteristic," said Graham, who registered two of the team's seven quarterback sacks, giving him 11 for the season, the first time in his career he has reached the double-digit plateau in sacks. "Come in with a great mentality, don't talk about anybody because we all have our fair share of mistakes that we made and that we can learn from. We're all just out here trying to figure it out.

"We need to take care of business. We've been here before. We know how to get ourselves back and get ready for the next game. It's disappointing now, but we have work to do. We know that and we'll be there when it's time."

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