Back to the drawing board. After all the excitement and optimism stemming from two straight come-from-behind victories, the Philadelphia Eagles received a huge reality check on Sunday, getting blown out by the Arizona Cardinals 27-6. For the third straight game, turnovers were a huge problem for the team. This time however, the defense wasn’t enough to cover it up.
The Cardinals defense dominated from the very start. They shut down Michael Vick on the opening drive, holding the Eagles to a three and out. The Cardinals offense then struck first with a Jay Feely field goal. Then came what at this point seems to be inevitable for the Eagles offense: a turnover. This time the culprit was rookie Damaris Johnson who fumbled a punt return which the Cardinals recovered.
Former Eagles QB Kevin Kolb took advantage of the turnover, though he was extremely lucky in doing so. Kolb connected with Michael Floyd for a touchdown that could have easily been an interception. The pass bounced off the hands of both DeMeco Ryans and Dominique Rodgers Cromartie before Floyd finally managed to grab it and run it in for his first career touchdown, putting the Cardinals up 10-0.
Things went from bad to worse for the Eagles in the 2nd quarter. Michael Vick fumbled the football after suffering one of many brutal hits he took throughout the game. While he was initially ruled down by contact, the call was challenged and reversed and the Cardinals got the ball back. Kolb took advantage of the turnover once again, connecting with Larry Fitzgerald for a 37-yard touchdown, putting the Cardinals up 17-0. Fitzgerald, who didn’t do much in the first two games of the season, lived up to his rep as “The Eagle killer,” racking up 114 yards and one touchdown on nine catches.
Desperate to swing the momentum before the half ended, Vick led the team all the way into the red zone. He connected with DeSean Jackson for what likely would’ve been a touchdown if not for a timely tackle and denial from Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes. Then, on the last play of the half, Rhodes executed the biggest play of the game, crushing Vick on a huge tackle that forced another fumble, Vick’s second of the day. James Sanders recovered the ball and ran it back for a 93-yard touchdown, giving the Cardinals a commanding 24-0 halftime lead.
The Eagles defense stepped it up in the third quarter, holding the Cardinals scoreless. The Eagles offense took advantage, kind of. While the Cardinals defense continued to put the hurting on Vick, the Birds managed to get on the scoreboard thanks to two Alex Henery field goals.
The Eagles D continued to hold strong in the 4th but this time the offense couldn’t capitalize, as the Cardinals continued to stop them at every turn. Another Jay Feely field goal put the Cardinals up for good. Vick, facing heavy pressure all game, finished 17 for 37, throwing for 217 yards with zero touchdowns, zero interceptions and two fumbles. Kevin Kolb got his revenge on the Birds, finishing 17 for 24 for 222 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers.
Once again, turnovers were the big story. The Eagles continue to acknowledge the problem during interviews and press conferences but for the third week in a row, it doesn’t seem like they’re doing much to fix it. Today’s loss proved that they can’t rely on their talent to compensate for the carelessness.
The other issue is Vick’s durability. The notoriously injury prone Quarterback continues to get leveled with devastating hit after hit, week after week. Whether it’s Vick’s style of play or bad protection from the offensive line is up for debate. What is clear however is that Vick is enduring a huge amount of punishment and there is only so much his body can take.
If Vick and the Birds don’t find a way to decrease the amount of hits he takes, it could be a short season for the franchise QB. Next week the Birds take on division rival and defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. How the Eagles perform in that highly anticipated matchup in light of today’s loss will give a good idea of what this team is truly made of.