The Eagles found a different way to lose in Buffalo Sunday as they staked the Bills to a 21-point second-half lead before coming up short on another late-game comeback attempt as the Birds lost 31-24 to the Bills.
You got it right Big Red. The game was marred by a variety of critical mental and physical mistakes by the Eagles especially late in the game.
The worst two mistakes came in the final two minutes. First Jason Avant popped a Michael Vick pass into the air at the Buffalo 26 just after the two-minute warning. Nick Barnett came away with the pick -- Vick’s fourth on the day -- and the Eagles possible game-tying drive was halted.
Then after the Birds defense came up with a huge 3-and-out with 1:23 left on the clock, veteran defensive end Juqua Parker jumped offsides as the Bills ran a play to likely try and draw the Birds offsides. The Eagles with no timeouts couldn’t stop the clock as the Bills kneeled their way to victory. Parker reportedly later said he thought the Bills were planning to run a play when he jumped offsides.
The two late mistakes were amongst a slew of terrible plays by the Eagles including a fumble by Avant after a 35-yard reception mid-way through the third quarter, back-to-back holding penalties by Danny Watkins and King Dunlap early in the fourth quarter that nullified a Vick TD run and forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal and a 14-yard face mask penalty that gave Ryan Lindell a shot at a 29-yard field goal instead of a 47-yard attempt late in the third quarter.
And don’t even get me started on the clock mismanagement that cost the Eagles at worst a field goal attempt at the end of the first half. Vick inexplicably didn’t get out of bounds while rushing down to the Buffalo 26 with about 30 seconds left. He then underthrew DeSean Jackson before taking too long on the final play of the half to even attempt a would-be 42-yard field goal.
It’s also worth noting that Vick tossed four interceptions (two of which weren’t really his fault) on his way to just a 66.1 passer rating. One of his picks was returned 31 yards for a TD by Barnett.
“I think we need to eliminate turnovers… and penalties in crucial situations,” Reid said. “I think it’s pretty obvious.”
Vick still managed to throw for 315 yards on 26-for-40 (65-percent) passing while throwing two TDs. He also added 90 yards rushing on five attempts to break Randall Cunningham’s all-time NFL record (4,928) for rushing yards by a QB. Vick now has 4,948 yards.
But this one doesn’t rest solely on Vick. The Eagles defense once again allowed a 100-yard rusher as Fred Jackson dashed for 111 yards and a score on 26 attempts. Jackson is the third running back this year to put up 100-plus yards against the Eagles D.
The Bills also used the screen to gash the Eagles defense as Jackson added six receptions for 85 yards.
The Eagles also had trouble tackling all day as S Nate Allen was forced to make plenty of plays on his way to a 13-tackle performance.
And Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was 21-for-27 for 193 yards and a TD. He also threw an interception that was picked off by Jamar Chaney -- the Eagles linebacker’s first career INT.
Also coaching has to be called into question as to why the Eagles didn’t go for it on 4th-and-4 from the Bills 37 late in the second quarter down 21-7. Reid decided to trust rookie punter Chas Henry to drop the ball inside the 20 instead of letting the offense go for it and at worst cost themselves about 15 yards from where they wound up after Henry punted into the end zone. Henry averaged just 26 yards net on his two punts.
The Eagles top performers were Avant (despite his fumble and give-away interception) who caught nine balls for 139 yards, DeSean Jackson who caught five passes for 86 yards and a score and LeSean McCoy who rushed 11 times for 80 yards and a score.
With the Eagles dropping to 1-4, questions will continue to be asked about Reid's job security. Also don't be surprised if other coaches' names come up as possible scapegoats for the team's four-game losing streak.
“In the National Football League your job is on the line every week,” Reid said.
The time is yours.