Eagles Struggle In Red Zone, Lose To Chargers

Mike LewisContributor INovember 15, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 15:  Quarterback Donavan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks onto the field from the sideline near the end of the 4th quarter during the game against the San Diego Chargers on November 15, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. Chargers won 31-23.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles fell to the San Diego Chargers by a score of 31-23 on Sunday.

Failures in the red-zone doomed the Eagles, who failed to score a touchdown in each of their first three red-zone tries. After falling behind 14-0 in the second quarter, they had a first down on the one yard line, but failed to punch it in and settled for a field goal.  Before the end of the half, they marched down the field and were inside the San Diego ten yard line but once again settled for three points and went into halftime trailing 14-6.

After San Diego took a 21-6 lead in the third quarter, the Eagles drove inside the Chargers ten yard line again, but settled for another field goal and a 21-9 Chargers lead. Many have questioned Andy Reid’s decision to play conservatively with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.

The Chargers responded by scoring another touchdown against the Eagles defense and took a 28-6 lead. The Eagles responded with two impressive drives which lead to touchdowns and were able to get within five points with just over seven minutes remaining.

The offense wouldn’t get another chance as the Chargers took advantage of poor clock management by the Eagles, who had used two timeouts already, and ran the clock down to just 30 seconds while adding a field goal. The Eagles weren’t able to make a comeback in such little time.

The red zone struggles were not the only problem. The defensive secondary struggled badly with the losses of Ellis Hobbs to injury and Joselio Hansen to suspension. The rest of the defense played poorly, resulting in 31 points for the Chargers.

The offensive burden was placed squarely on Donovan McNabb’s shoulders as Reid abandoned the run after the first drive. McNabb attempted 55 passes while the team attempted just 13 rushes. McNabb performed admirably, completing 35 passes for 450 yards and two touchdowns.

Jason Avant had a career performance, catching eight passes for 156 yards. The Eagles seem to have a very talented trio of young receivers as Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin also played well.

Brian Westbrook left the game early with another concussion. This is a serious issue as few players return from multiple concussions to make an impact in the same season. The Eagles and Westbrook should proceed cautiously as concussions have lead many former NFL players to experience serious long term mental deterioration after their careers.

Luckily for the Eagles, rookie running back Lesean McCoy has shown potential and may be on the verge of emerging as a very good feature back. He was a nonfactor on Sunday, though as he carried the ball just three times for only five yards.

At 5-4, the Eagles have a lot of work to do if they plan on contending for a Super Bowl. Luckily for them, they are just one game out of first place in an NFC East that is full of flawed teams. The Eagles have been hit hard by injuries and have been very inconsistent, but they have a lot of talent and at times they have played very well.

While they have disappointed so far, nobody should count them out yet. They looked dead in the water last season before rallying late and ending just one drive short of the Super Bowl.