The Eagles suffered their first home defeat of the season in one of the most disgraceful losses in recent memory. The circumstances were very similar to one of the many disheartening losses the team suffered last season. With the erratic offense and a defense that is unable to hold a fourth-quarter lead, the team is in danger of being just as disappointing as was last season’s team.
For the second straight week, the Eagles went from leading in the fourth quarter to watching the opposition hit a game-winning field goal—but this was loss was much more egregious. It was at home, it was against a bad team and the lead surrendered was much more substantial.
When Jeremy Maclin crossed the goal line after catching a 70-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter, the Eagles held a 10-point lead and the clock read 5:18. Then everything went awry. The Lions took about 90 seconds to shred the Eagles' suddenly porous defense to cut the lead to 3 on a 17-yard TD pass to Nate Burleson.
The Eagles offense got the ball back and promptly went three-and-out—just like last season. The defense suddenly began leaking oil in the fourth quarter and the offense did nothing to help matters by continually punting on four downs.
The Lions drove the ball down to the 1-yard line before the Eagles defense finally stiffened and the Lions were forced to kick the game-tying FG with 3 seconds left to force overtime.
The Eagles won the toss and got possession first, but inexplicably, Mike Vick took two deep drops and was sacked twice. The second sack, on third down, forced the Eagles to punt from their own end zone. A couple plays later, Jason Hanson kicked a 45-yard FG to win the game for the Lions.
This was a very bitter loss on a number of fronts. The Eagles defense had held the Lions to just two FGs for the first three quarters. Then the floodgates opened and they allowed 17 points in the final quarter and 14 in the final four minutes.
The defense blew it, but the offense did not help. Aside from not picking up even one first down to stem the tide, it is just not winning football to turn the ball over three times. Mike Vick had yet another fumble to go with his two interceptions.
Just as troubling for the Eagles as the ghosts of 2011 reappearing is that LeSean McCoy seems unable to run the ball effectively. The offensive line seems to be in disarray in both pass and run blocking. But all that being said, the Eagles did hold a 10-point lead with five minutes left in the game.
What happened in that final five minutes that allowed the Lions offense, which had been stifled all game, to suddenly come to life? Only the coaches know. Or maybe they do not even know and that is why they could do nothing to stop it.
Whatever the case, this was a critically important game going into the bye week and the Eagles collapsed. Fans, still haunted by nightmares of last season, are now going into the break stewing over two straight games in which the Eagles lost by a FG on the last play of the game.
Fans are always reactionary, usually detrimentally so. However, it does seem as though this team has reached a crossroads. Even at this relatively early point in the season, it seems something needs to change fundamentally.
It may be time to bench the starting QB. Andy Reid will be reluctant to do so because he can point to the fact that the Eagles offense gave the team leads in each of the last two games and they lost because the defense collapsed.
That is true, but the turnovers are just too glaring to ignore. He will elect to give Vick the bye week to recuperate and see if he can come out of the break re-energized and more able to reduce his turnovers.
That may be sound logic in a vacuum, but viewed against the backdrop of Mike Vick’s history, Andy Reid’s career and the stagnant state of this team, it just might be time to panic.
There are other things to consider such as whether another QB could survive behind this offensive line. There is only one way to find out and we may have reached that point.
The season is not over. The Mike Vick experiment may be. Fans have seen the Eagles rebound from the depths before, but not with this QB at the helm. Aside from his amazing run when he first became the starting QB in 2010, Mike Vick’s tenure here has so far been one of disappointment. The arc has been continuously sloping downward ever since the Eagles first round playoff loss after the 2010 season.
With Vick remaining as the starting QB, we know how this script ends. Maybe with another QB, it ends differently—if he can protect the ball. Reid will not want to make that change yet. Either way, if the end of the story does not change, Reid will no longer be in a position to change it. If this continues, Reid will be unemployed.