Turnovers, poor offensive-line play and countless mental miscues resulted in Philadelphia's fourth straight loss Monday night, a 28-13 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.
The game's scoring started in the only way it possibly could. The Eagles drove down the field and appeared primed to put some points on the board, but Michael Vick threw a pass that resulted in a touchdown for the Saints instead. Patrick Robinson's interception at the 1-yard line resulted in a 99-yard return the other way, giving New Orleans a 7-0 lead.
Eagles fans shouldn't have been shocked in the least. According to ESPN's broadcast, the Eagles have 13 turnovers in their opponents' territory so far this season. Vick has 10 of those. There are a lot of problems that teams can overcome, but that's nearly impossible. Giving points away like that is inexcusable no matter how you cut it.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke said it perfectly:
It's like the Eagles get inside the 20 and then say, "Which plays haven't we run all year?"— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) November 6, 2012
Alex Henery's field goal less than three minutes into the second quarter made it 7-3, but the positives in the first half stopped there for Andy Reid's team. Chris Ivory slashed his way to a 22-yard touchdown, Marques Colston hauled in a one-yard touchdown pass, and the Saints took a 21-3 lead into halftime.
The third quarter seemed to swing things in Philadelphia's favor. DeSean Jackson scored on a dazzling 77-yard touchdown to pull the Eagles to within two touchdowns of the lead. Then on the ensuing kickoff, Travaris Cadet fumbled the ball:
The Eagles recovered and suddenly had new life. After the fumble, CBS' Jim Rome had a question:
Who wants to win this game less?— Jim Rome (@jimrome) November 6, 2012
Vick was under constant duress in the red zone, and Henery was forced to kick his third field goal of the evening, adding to Rome's point. Poor offensive-line play resulted in a missed opportunity and also prompted Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith to say this:
Eagles' 3 red zone trips have produced 6 points for them and 7 for the Saints. Clearly, Juan Castillo is to blame.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) November 6, 2012
Missing out on red-zone opportunities can kill good teams, let alone the Eagles. Their woes inside the 20-yard line are a perfect example of how messy this team is. The offensive line was poor all night as well, surrendering seven sacks overall.
Failing to put another touchdown on the board, Philadelphia lost most of its momentum. Jimmy Graham caught a score to put the Saints up by 15 at the end of the third quarter, and the Eagles never recovered.
They showed a little trickery on the next kickoff, though, only to get it called back. Brandon Boykin tossed a cross-field pass to Riley Cooper, who took it all the way for a score, only to have it brought back due to an illegal forward pass.
Bleacher Report's Twitter shows us how Cooper was able to go unnoticed:
Riley Cooper was lying down in the end zone before catching a forward pass on a kickoff. twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 6, 2012
New Orleans' win was earned, but the Eagles gave the Saints plenty of help. Brees went 21-of-27 for 239 yards and two touchdowns, and did receive more help than usual from the ground game (140 yards), but Philadelphia's mental errors were the major difference.
Vick, although he's incredibly easy to blame most of the time, wasn't the problem. Passing-wise, he was 22-of-40 for 272 yards and one touchdown, and he ran for 53 more. He could make better decisions at times, but his offensive line rarely gives him any opportunity to feel comfortable.
Charlotte Observer reporter Jonathan Jones summed it up perfectly:
Vick's awareness isn't good, but his offensive tackles are way worse.— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) November 6, 2012
The struggling quarterback did receive 119 yards from LeSean McCoy, but the Eagles' coaching staff struggles to use the star running back correctly. His touches are infrequent, and he goes long periods of time without touching the football. Assuming McCoy wouldn't touch the ball in the red zone allowed Steve Spagnuolo's defense to pin its ears back and bring the blitz.
All in all, it was another one to forget for the Eagles. Vick's days appear to be numbered as a starter, and Reid's career as Philly's head coach also looks to be coming to a close.