Eagles stand by safety Nate Allen
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nate Allen made the one mistake he couldn't with the game on the line.
The Philadelphia Eagles were clinging to a 20-17 lead over the Arizona Cardinals with 90 seconds left in last Sunday's game when Carson Palmer connected with rookie John Brown on a 75-yard touchdown pass.
Brown beat cornerback Cary Williams and Allen, making an over-the-shoulder catch on Palmer's perfect throw. Allen, the safety, was responsible for not letting the receiver get behind him. He failed and it cost the Eagles (5-2).
''You want to play the perfect game but that's never going to happen,'' Allen said. ''There's always going to be mistakes in a game. That (stinks) it had to happen. I'm not going to beat myself about it anymore or it'll affect the next game. You have to learn from it.''
Allen has heard plenty of criticism since the game-changing play. But until that point, he had played one of his best games this season. He forced and recovered a fumble, broke up a couple passes on third down and got the defense in the right position in one important spot when there was confusion.
''I watch every play Nate had. Nate had a very good game; he had one bad play,'' Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis said. ''But he wasn't the only one. The pass rush wasn't the way it was supposed to be, and the quarterback had a step-up lane. Cary could have got higher quicker for the insurance, if you do take the wrong step. He took one false step and got beat big. We could have all played that better. The Philadelphia Eagles defense got beat on that play, not just Nate.''
Allen hasn't lived up to expectations since being drafted in the second round in 2010. He's started 61 of 66 games he's played in, but the Eagles have had issues in the secondary throughout his tenure. Malcolm Jenkins, signed as a free agent in the offseason, solidified one safety spot, but there was even talk before Tuesday's trade deadline that the Eagles were looking for an upgrade over Allen.
They didn't make a move and Allen will be starting, if his hamstring injury doesn't worsen, when Philadelphia visits Houston (4-4) on Sunday.
''Absolutely confident in Nate Allen. No question,'' Davis said. ''The spotlight is on you, and that's part of being in the secondary, but Nate has thick skin and we as a defense, collectively, blew it at the end. I could have had a better call. There are a lot of things.''
The Eagles have allowed 25 plays of 20 or more yards this season, including seven for 40 or more yards. Only five teams have allowed more. Allen was at fault on several of those plays.
Still, his job is safe - for now.
''I don't think he can be defined by one play,'' coach Chip Kelly said. ''If it's a defensive lineman that doesn't rush the right gap and bites on the wrong move, you don't get exposed to that level. But I think Nate has played well this year, and we're real happy with Nate.''
NOTES: RG Todd Herremans practiced Wednesday and is trying to play with a torn biceps. He was injured in the fourth quarter vs. the Cardinals. Kelly said it's a matter of pain tolerance. ... C Jason Kelce also practiced and could return after missing the last four games following surgery for a sports hernia. ... Allen and CB Brandon Boykin both missed practice because of hamstring injuries.
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