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Eagles-Cardinals Postgame: Welcome Back Andy
Well that was a horrible game.
In a matchup where the Philadelphia Eagles wore white and the Arizona Cardinals wore red, the dominant color of the day was yellow. As in, there were more yellow penalty flags thrown on the field by the officials than should be allowed by law. All the penalties disrupted the flow of the game early and led to a low-scoring 24-20 win for the host Cardinals.
The Eagles were flagged 11 times for 103 yards, while the Cardinals were flagged 10 times for 96 yards. And this wasn't even a game refereed by Ed Hochuli.
The game itself was exciting at the end after that slow flag-marred start, but it was a heart-breaker for the Eagles, as they got down to the Cardinals 16 yard line before Nick Foles threw too far for Jordan Matthews, who caught the ball out of bounds as time expired.
It was even worse for the Eagles, because they actually had the lead with 1:56 left in the game, after Cody Parkey hit his second field goal of the game, but their defense couldn't hold the lead. It's a shame, too, because the Eagles defense actually played well in this game except for giving up an 80-yard TD reception to Larry Fitzgerald (7 receptions for 160 yards and 1 TD). Well, they played well until Nate Allen somehow let rookie John Brown get behind him for a 75-yard TD catch with 1:12 left in the game to give Arizona a 24-20 lead that decided the outcome of the game.
Actually, the bigger story of this game might be that somehow, Andy Reid is back calling plays for the Eagles. How else do you explain the fact that the Eagles called 62 pass plays and only 26 running plays? Yes, I understand that the Cardinals had the No. 1 rated run defense in the NFL coming into the game, but the Eagles didn't even try to run the ball in the first half. LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushing last season and was 4th this season, yet he only had 7 carries for 36 yards in the first half. Meanwhile, Foles was chucking the ball 30 times in the first half. Andy Reid would have been proud, but I was losing my mind. I was actually screaming "Run the damn ball!" at my TV. I later changed it to my old favorite "Run the ball Andy!", in mocking fashion.
And even though Nick Foles threw for 441 yards, it was a horrible performance. He completed only 36 of his 62 passes and although he threw two nice TD passes, he threw two of the ugliest interceptions you will ever see. The first one was into the endzone in the first half, with the game tied 7-7. The second was in the second half and was thrown a few yards behind the intended receiver. Luckily for Foles and the Eagles, his defense bailed him out both times.
The Eagles opened the scoring with a Jeremy Maclin 21-yard TD reception and Arizona answered with an Andre Ellington 1-yard TD run. Sadly, that was all the offense in the entire first half due to 16 penalty flags. It seemed like every time a defender got anywhere near a quarterback, the refs were calling roughing the passer. Besides the interception Foles threw into the endzone, the Eagles also fumbled the ball at the Arizona 1 yard line, courtesy of rookie receiver Josh Huff. It was the sloppiest half of football I have seen in a long time.
The Cards opened the second half with that 80-yard TD catch and run by Fitzgerald that was actually a 5-yard slant that Fitzgerald took right through the middle of the Eagles defense without being touched. I can't prove this, but I assume Nate Allen was to blame for that one too. The Eagles answered with a 54-yard Parkey FG (His 3rd FG of 50+ yards in his rookie season), to make it 14-10. Then Foles throws an absolutely perfect pass into the endzone for a 54-yard TD to Maclin to put the Eagles back on top 17-14. It's throws like that one that make all the bad throws he's making this season harder to understand.
Nate Allen then actually did something good, when he stripped the ball out of Ellington's hands and plucked the ball out of the air. Unfortunately, the Eagles couldn't convert that into any points. After Foles threw his second horrible interception of the day, the defense bailed him out again when DeMeco Ryans smacked the ball out of THE John Carlson's hands in the endzone and Arizona had to settle for a FG to tie the game 17-17.
Who Was Most to Blame for the Eagles Loss?
Then , the game got really strange, as Eagles coach Chip Kelly realized that maybe he should actually give the ball to his best offensive player once in a while. You know, like he did all of last season. The Eagles took possession of the ball with 9:01 left in the game and proceeded to drive down field by running the football consistently. The drive ate up 7:05 off the clock and ended with a Parkey FG to put the Eagles up 20-17.
While that might seem like it good thing, it was not. No, I'm not just saying that because the Eagles gave up that 75-yard TD reception to Brown for the winning score a few plays later. I'm saying it because the Eagles had the ball inside the Arizona 1 yard line on third down. The could have even gotten a first down an inch before the goal line, but a hand-off to McCoy netted no gain on a third down run and Kelly decided to kick the field goal.
First of all, the Eagles ran that last hand-off to McCoy out of the shotgun, after having an incredible amount of success running the ball with Foles under center in their last game against the Giants. Second of all, why not try a QB sneak with your 6-6 QB? When asked about that at the postgame news conference and Kelly, snippier than usual, said they tried a QB sneak last season against the Cowboys and since it didn't work they weren't doing that ever again. Yeah, that makes sense Chipper.
I don't know who is more to blame for this terrible loss. Kelly's game-plan was absolutely Reidian in its obsession with the pass. And even though Foles threw for 441 yards, he made several mind-boggling mistakes by throwing off his back foot when there wasn't even any pressure on him.
The Eagles did end up rushing for 110 yards, which is the most against the Cardinals all season. It makes you wonder how well they could have done if they ran the ball a little more, considering they gained 4.2 yards per carry.
Maybe it was something in the desert air though, since Arizona head coach Bruce Arians had Carson Palmer throw the ball 42 times himself. Palmer had a decent game, completing 20 of those 42 passes for 329 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions. What's even more amazing than all those passes, is the fact that with 104 combined passes, there wasn't a single sack in the game. It was those zero interceptions that were the difference in this game, though. The Cardinals win games by winning the turnover battle and they did it again in this one.
Jeremy Maclin REALLY Wanted some Gatorade
Anyway, the Eagles lost yet another game they should have won and did it in infuriating fashion. (They could be undefeated if they could have converted from the 2 yard line in San Francisco and from inside the 1 yard line tonight in Arizona)
The Eagles should have won this game easily, but all those penalties and three turnovers killed them. You don't win in the NFL making that many mistakes. You just don't. You also don't win throwing the ball 62 times, when your QB isn't having the best game and you've got a stud RB like LeSean McCoy. Andy Reid proved that.
I'm so disgusted.