SEATTLE – The things the Eagles did so well in their nine-game winning streak, especially forging a league-best performance in the red zone, went the other way on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field in a 24-10 loss.
Two times the Eagles reached the red zone against Seattle and two times they came away without a touchdown. The misses cost the Eagles in the game and underscored the need to score touchdowns in the red zone.
On the first trip, with Seattle leading 10-0, the Eagles made some critical mistakes to cost them a chance for a touchdown. A LeGarrette Blount run from the 15-yard line that gained 11 yards to the 4-yard line was moved back when wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was penalized for holding.
The Eagles then failed to punch the ball in the end zone after that. On first-and-9 from the 14, quarterback Carson Wentz completed a 3-yard pass to Nelson Agholor for 3 yards. On second-and-6, Blount was stopped on a run up the middle for no gain. And on third-and-6, Wentz's completion to the right flat for running back Jay Ajayi was stopped after a 3-yard gain.
Jake Elliott came on to kick a 26-yard field goal to make the score 10-3.
It stayed that way through the rest of the first half, and then the Eagles moved the football on their first possession of the second half. A completion to Jeffery gave the Eagles a first-and-goal play at Seattle's 4-yard line, and after Blount was tackled for a 2-yard loss, Wentz darted up the middle and, just as he neared the goal line, had the ball punched loose.
A week earlier, Agholor was in place to recover an Ajayi fumble in the end zone. This time, the Eagles couldn't corral the football as it spun and bounced through the end zone for a touchback.
Making it worse, Seattle came right back after the Wentz fumble and scored a touchdown on Russell Wilson's 1-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett, set up by a 47-yard pass to Doug Baldwin to go ahead, 17-3, with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter.
Entering Sunday's contest, the Eagles had scored on 34-of-38 red-zone chances, including 28 touchdowns, a TD percentage of 71.8.
But all of that went out the window on Sunday night, and it cost the Eagles.
It didn't help in the least that Seattle scored touchdowns on both of its trips to the red zone, both on Wilson touchdowns passes -- the first one to tight end Jimmy Graham. An Eagles defense that ranked eighth in the NFL in red zone performance entering the game was beaten twice. In all, Seattle scored on each of its three trips inside the Philadelphia 20-yard line.
"No doubt it was disappointing not to execute down there," guard Brandon Brooks said. "That's what it came down to, us just not getting it done. We've been so good there all season -- no sacks, no penalties, and no turnovers and we just didn't execute the way we wanted tonight."
Said wide receiver Torrey Smith: "I don't want this to sound bad because Seattle did a great job, but for us I feel like we shot ourselves in the foot. We had some opportunities to score touchdowns, we were moving the ball well, but we didn't finish. You can't do that and expect to win on the road."
It didn't help that tight end Zach Ertz, a weapon in the red zone all season, went out of the game in the second half and didn't return. And the Eagles did not run the ball well in the red zone, nor did Wentz find any targets in the passing game. Instead, the Eagles threw a lot of short stuff to the sidelines hoping to make a tackler miss, and Seattle didn't miss.
"We need to score touchdowns in the red zone. It's that simple," wide receiver Nelson Agholor said after his 7-catch, 141-yard, 1-touchdown performance. "We've been scoring touchdowns all season and tonight we didn't. That's the story of the game."