Eagles Lose for Sixth Time, Fall to Browns

Ed Kracz

It rained all game long, a typically dreary November day by Lake Erie at FirstEnergy Stadium, and it matched the mood of the season the Eagles are having, which has been nothing but dreary and all wet.

There is no sunshine for this team in 2020.

Another loss, this one a 22-17 setback to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, kept the Eagles with just three wins heading into Thanksgiving and a home date next Monday night against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Eagles are 3-6-1, yet somehow still lead the NFC East. That won’t last if this dreariness continues, especially with games against the Packers, Saints, and Cardinals coming up after Seattle.

“We want to get this thing right because we talk about winners win and losers figure out how to lose, and we ain’t doing that,” said defensive end Brandon Graham, who failed to get a sack for the second straight game and remains stuck on seven. “We’re winners here. We always hold that high standard, and we know what we gotta get accomplished. We don’t want to make no more excuses. We didn’t get it done.

“It’s just tough because now, what I love the most is, during tough times, you really see what your team is about. And this is the toughest time because when people expect you to go out and win certain games, and you don’t do it, we expect the same thing, and we don’t do it, you really start to see what you need to see with your team. I don’t see anyone wavering. ‘

The Browns (7-3) exposed many of the Eagles’ warts.

They have a quarterback who continues to struggle, continues to take a pounding by either holding the ball too long, not having receivers get open often enough, having a patchwork offensive line give up too much pressure, or bad playcalling.

“Are we playing as good as we can as a team? No,” said Wentz. “Am I playing my best football? No. There are some circumstances out there that we left some plays on the field. We’ll be critical. We’ll go back and watch the tape. 

"At the end of the day, that stuff is what it is. You guys can ask whatever questions you want, bring up whatever you want, but for me, I’m just going to put my head down and go to work.”

Carson Wentz was sacked four times and hit 10 times. Olivier Vernon had three of the sacks, twice beating Jason Peters and once bull-rushing Lane Johnson right into Wentz’s lap. One of Vernon’s sacks was good for a safety, which gave the Browns a 12-7 lead with 3:11 to go in the third quarter.

The Browns also showed the Eagles what they lack – a true power running back.

Miles Sanders and Boston Scott are good in space, but they aren’t wearing down defenses like Nick Chubb.

Chubb and the Browns fourth-ranked run offense struggled in the first half, amassing just 18 yards. Then came the fourth quarter.

Chubb’s 54-yard run, which featured a violent stiff-arm that cast aside Joe Ostman, in his pro debut, like a ragdoll. The run came right after the Eagles had cut the lead to 12-10 on a 43-yard field goal from Jake Elliott with just over 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

That long run set up a Kareem Hunt touchdown on which he hurdled Jalen Mills on the edge to finish the run.

Chubb carried 20 times for 114 yards rushing, his fourth time over 100 yards in his last five games. Hunt had just 10 yards, but the Browns still ended with 137 yards rushing.

The Eagles’ rushing attack was just the opposite, effective early, with 96 yards on the ground at halftime, but just 10 yards after that.

Meanwhile, the Browns did a good job of taking away the ball. Cleveland is good at that, too; the Eagles are not.

Cleveland entered the game at plus-four in the takeaway/giveaway department. They are now plus-six after intercepting Wentz twice and forcing a fumble from Sanders.

The Eagles have given up the ball 20 times now and are minus-nine in that category.

Two of those turnovers - Sanders’ fumble on the first drive with the Eagles sitting at first-and-goal looking to take a 7-0 lead and one of Wentz’s picks came on a prayer thrown by Wentz inside the 10 with just over two minutes left in the game.

“We all put so much work into this,” said safety Rodney McLeod. “We prepare hard. We go to practice each and every day then we show up on Sundays expecting to win. When you do all those things and the outcome isn’t what you expect, it’s hard to digest that.

“This has been the story for us obviously these past couple of weeks, heartbreaking losses throughout the season. Whether we’re losing by three points or seven or less, it’s tough and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t

“At the end of the day, there are still six more games left. I would never quit. I know this team, our identity, no one has that in them. We’re going to get back to work and we’re going to grind this thing out.”

Some observations:

Déjà vu: Just like last week after the Eagles grabbed momentum on Boston Scott 56-yard TD run against the Giants and gave up two big pass plays, this time they gave up on big pass play, a 42-yard completion to KhaDarel Hodge that led to a field goal after the Eagles scored their first points of the game on a 19-yard strike to Richard Rodgers.

Hodge’s catch led to a 46-yard Codey Parkey field goal. It came less than three minutes after Rodgers TD had tied the score.

Then there was Chubb’s 54-yard run, which came after Elliott’s field goal made it 12-10 with just over 11 minutes to play in the game.

Turning point: Wentz threw a pick-six on a lobbed ball to Sanders in the flat that never came close to him, instead landing in the hands of Sione Takitaki who raced 50 yards untouched for a touchdown. Those were the only points scored in the first half, making the game the first in the NFL where neither team scored an offensive touchdown in the first half.

Slow starts: The Eagles are averaging 3.8 points in the first half of the last five games. They were shutout for the second time in that streak against the Browns. The other time was against the Ravens.

Wentz struggles: The QB finished 21-for-35 for 235 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He now has 14 of each this year. The interception total ties his career-high he set as a rookie and it is the most in the NFL. He has also been sacked 39 times now.
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