Eagles vs. Steelers: Turnovers Threatening to Ruin Philadelphia's Season

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 7, 2012

Oct 7, 2012; Pittsburgh , PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) fumbles the ball as he is hit by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark (25) during the first half of the game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

It didn't help that the Philadelphia Eagles pass rush couldn't muster a single sack and the run defense was leaky. The defense also couldn't hold off the Pittsburgh Steelers on the game's final drive, and a slow start overall played a role.

But again, the difference between a win and a 16-14 loss for the Eagles on Sunday was the team's failure to secure the football. 

More precisely, the primary reason why the Eagles lost was quarterback Michael Vick's inability to secure the ball. Vick fumbled on back-to-back first-half possessions, with the first turnover coming as he dove to the Pittsburgh 1-yard line on a draw, costing the Eagles at least three points in a game they'd lose by two.

Neither fumble led directly to Pittsburgh points, but who knows what the offense would have done on the drives in which those miscues took place. 

Vick has now had five fumbles in five games, and the Eagles are on pace to turn it over 45 times—more than any NFL team since the Oakland Raiders coughed it up on 46 occasions in 2006. 

During the first three weeks of the season, we took solace in the fact that Philadelphia was winning in spite of the turnovers. It was another sign that this team is extremely talented. But we also knew that wasn't sustainable.

Many figured the turnover trend would fade, and while the numbers aren't as disgusting as they were during those first few weeks, turnovers are finally preventing this team from winning games.

So while they'll be super-duper fantastic when they stop making silly mistakes, the concern now has to be that they won't ever stop making said mistakes. 

Neither of Vick's fumbles Sunday had to do with this oft-criticized ability to make good decisions. In both cases, he did what he was supposed to do. But Ryan Clark took advantage of his less-than-stellar grip on the ball, while Lawrence Timmons benefited from Vick's failure to consider his surroundings while possessing the ball. 

Is that something Vick can improve at this stage of his career? Probably not, so the onus will be on the defense to even out that turnover ratio. They weren't able to do that Sunday against a very good team.

And that's just it. That's the difference between now and the first two weeks. The Browns simply aren't that good, while the Ravens made two big mistakes offensively against Philly. The schedule doesn't get any easier, with the Eagles' next three games against 2011 playoff teams. And the division is tougher this season. 

Whoever wins the NFC East will likely do so by a slim margin. And when we look back on Philadelphia's season, this is the kind of game that we might say kept them from making a Super Bowl run. 

And when you consider the pressure Andy Reid has to perform under in 2012, these turnovers could soon change the future of this franchise.