Eagles' defense picked apart in shootout loss

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Eagles' defense picked apart in shootout loss

September 15, 2013, 8:00 pm
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Chargers wide receiver Eddie Royal scores one of his three touchdowns in the Eagles' 33-30 loss to San Diego on Sunday. (AP)


The Eagles usually win games when they score 30 points. But not if they give up 33.

They usually win when they rack up 511 yards. But not when they allow 539.

NFL teams that play on the East Coast usually feast off West Coast teams at home with 1 p.m. kickoffs. Instead, the Eagles had their deflated crowd filing out of the Linc even before Nick Novak’s 46-yard field goal split the uprights with seven seconds to play, hammering down San Diego’s 33-30 win over the Eagles in the home opener (see Instant Replay).

Fans started heading for the exits before Novak jogged out to the Eagles’ 28-yard line because this much had become obvious by the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game: Whichever team had the ball last would win.

And the Chargers had the ball last.

“Couldn’t get them off the field,” coach Chip Kelly said afterward.

With the score tied at 30-30 and 105 ticks left on the clock, the Chargers took possession at their own 21. The Eagles needed one big third-down stop, but like the first three quarters, they had no answer for Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense (see story).

Rivers hit Antonio Gates twice for 36 total yards, moving the ball toward midfield, and hit Danny Woodhead out of the backfield twice more to get within feasible distance for Novak.

Rivers pretty much did whatever he wanted against the Eagles, completing 77 percent of his throws and tossing three touchdowns as he outdueled Mike Vick, who had the best passing game of his career.

“We gave up a lot of points, so that’s hard to swallow,” linebacker Connor Barwin said. “Thankfully, we play Thursday, so we can get the taste out of our mouths soon.”

Thankfully? Maybe for Andy Reid, the former Eagles coach who brings his 2-0 record and West Coast offense into the Linc on Thursday for his homecoming.

If guys like Woodhead and Eddie Royal caused headaches for the Eagles, what’s in store for Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and Alex Smith?

“The whole defense needs work,” coordinator Bill Davis said. “This week, we came up short. There’s still a lot of work to be done. We said it from Day 1, that we’re going to see who we were. Week 1 was a picture and this painted another picture for us.”

Yeah, and don’t expect to see Picasso’s name scrawled across it.

The Eagles are trending downward on defense again, after a stellar first-half debut Monday night against the Redskins. Washington managed just 75 yards before the break and looked powerless against an Eagles defense with six new starters.

The Redskins responded with 20 points and 307 yards in the second half, but the Eagles pinned more of the blame on their offense for failing to sustain late drives than the defense for not forcing Washington to get off the field.

Since the first half of that game, the Eagles have allowed 846 yards in six quarters, a ridiculously big number that conjures images of last year’s defense.

“I know we’re doing better,” linebacker Mychal Kendricks said. “There’s a lot of football to be played. To get stuck on one game isn’t how we do, so we’re just moving onto the next and getting better from there.”

The secondary had its share of problems covering Malcom Floyd, who had 105 receiving yards before leaving on a stretcher with a neck injury (see story), and Royal, who caught three touchdowns, two of which came inside the red zone.

But the pass rush was nowhere to be found. Outside of one Barwin sack, the Eagles didn’t touch Rivers, who didn’t help the cause by getting the ball out of his hands lickety split.

Trent Cole didn’t get near Rivers, nor did Fletcher Cox, DeMeco Ryans and Kendricks.

“I think we were stopping the run,” defensive end Cedric Thornton said. “We just got to get more pressure on the quarterback. But Rivers getting it out of there in two-and-a-half seconds. I mean, unbelievable.”

After a while, Davis started rushing three and dropping eight into coverage. It still didn’t work.

“We came at him with every blitz we had,” Davis said. “We tried to double Gates. We threw everything at him; he just out-executed us.”

More unbelievable will be the final scores of some future games if the Eagles don’t get their defense settled soon. Following the Kansas City game Thursday, they’ve got dates with Peyton Manning and Eli Manning.

“This doesn’t feel good, does it?” Kelly said. “We better make sure we can correct it. We have a game in four days. We’re going to come out against a team that likes to throw the football and we have to be ready to play.”

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