Eagles Loss in Miami was Painful, but Two September Losses Hurt, Too

Ed Kracz

Seasons in the NFL are typically defined by what teams do in November and December. With Doug Pederson in charge since 2016, the Eagles have gone 14-14, which includes a 1-3 record so far in those two months.

In the Eagles’ 2017 Super Bowl-winning season, Pederson guided his team to a 6-2 record over the final two months leading into the postseason to earn the NFC’s top seed in the playoffs.

This year’s Eagles, however, may want to look back at two September games that have proven to be costly.

Those games came in Week Two at Atlanta and in Week Three at home against the Lions.

The Eagles lost them both, 24-20 to the Falcons, and 27-24 to the Lions.

As it turned out, neither team proved to be any good, with Atlanta bumbling at 3-9 and Detroit stumbling in at 3-8-1.

 Throw in last Sunday’s 37-31 loss to the Miami Dolphins and three of the Eagles’ losses this season have come against teams that are a combined 9-26-1.

Here’s a recap of the two September setbacks:

FALCONS

In Atlanta, they took a 20-17 lead with a touchdown march that spanned 13 plays and 73 yards while using 8 minutes, 29 seconds. The drive was capped with 3:13 left in the game when quarterback Carson Wentz plunged in from a yard away. Wentz then connected with tight end Zach Ertz for the two-point conversion that meant the Falcons would need a touchdown to win.

Even with all the momentum the Eagles gained with that scoring drive, Atlanta did indeed score a touchdown, and it came just 63 seconds after the Eagles had used all that time taking the lead. The eventual game-winning score came after Julio Jones took a short pass in the flat. The Eagles defense barely touched Jones as he raced 54 yards into the end zone with 2:10 to play.

The Eagles got the ball back and, on the first play after the two-minute warning, a pass hit Nelson Agholor in the hands along the sideline that he dropped. He catches it, he scores. Still, the Eagles had another chance when, on the same drive, they reached the Atlanta 16. On a fourth-and-eight, though a completion to Ertz came up inches short of a first down.

The loss left the Eagles 1-1.

LIONS

At home, the Eagles trailed 27-17 early in the fourth quarter, but Agholor’s second touchdown of the game with 6:59 to play made it 27-24. There would be two more offensive possessions after that, but the Eagles failed to pick up a first down on either of them.

They went four-and-out on the first possession after cutting the lead to three.

The Lions had a chance to extend the lead to 30-24 after that empty possession, but Malcolm Jenkins blocked a Lions field goal with 1:53 to play that was scooped up by Rasul Douglas.

Douglas returned it to the Lions’ 40. Instead of the needing a touchdown to win, the Eagles were practically in field goal range after Douglas’ return.

Except Jenkins was called for a block in the back penalty on the return and that moved the ball back to the 50. Still, there was 1:40 to go in the game; plenty of time.

Two incompletions and five-yard completion made it fourth-and-five. The Eagles appeared to convert for a first down when Wentz found Darren Sproles for a 25-yard strike to the 20-yard line.

Sproles, though, was called for offensive pass interference.

Now fourth-and-15, Wentz hit rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the middle of the field at the goal line, but Arcega-Whiteside dropped the pass.

COMMENT

Beat the Dolphins in a game where penalties (10 for 91 yards) again played a factor, just like the loss to the Lions, and the Eagles are 8-4 and leading the NFC East by two games.

But even if the Eagles win two September games, they are 7-5, and leading the division by a game.

So the next time anyone says September doesn’t matter as much as November and December, remember 2019.

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