For the second time in four weeks, the Eagles were defeated after blowing a second-half lead on Sunday, this time falling 21-17 to the Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field.
Postgame, Eagles coach Doug Pederson described one major similarity between the two losses.
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"4th-and-15, 4th-and-10," said Pederson. "We've just got to go look at those two plays."
Had the Eagles been able to stop the Titans on 4th-and-15 in overtime Week 4, the game would've ended on the spot. Instead, the Titans converted from an improbable down-and-distance, then marched down the field for the winning touchdown.
Once again, had the Eagles been able to get off the field on 4th-and-10 with 2:06 remaining in regulation, the offense would've taken over in Carolina territory and, at the very least, forced the Panthers to use their timeouts. Instead, quarterback Cam Newton found wideout Torrey Smith for a 35-yard gain, and six plays later, the Panthers were in the end zone.
Of course, you don't need to be an NFL coach to understand the importance of finishing off an opponent when it's 4th-and-desperate. Why aren't the Eagles landing the knockout blow?
Pederson seemed to point the finger at execution.
"Flat out, this is a players' game," said Pederson. "Players have to make plays.
"We try to, as coaches, we put them in position to be successful, so we've got to evaluate that and just coach better and play better."
In Tennessee, Eagles safety Corey Graham left far too much cushion in zone coverage and allowed an easy completion down the sideline.
On Sunday, it was Jalen Mills who was beat in coverage, though Pederson suggested the cornerback may have lost his footing. Newton also got rid of the ball a moment before defensive end Michael Bennett arrived at the quarterback.
"I believe it was Jalen at the time may have slipped, may have fell down and Torrey was standing right there wide open," said Pederson. "We were real close to getting to Cam and getting him on the ground at the time. We were just a step behind."
Yet, as much as Pederson tried to boil a pair of losses down to one play in each, a lot more had to go awry than that.
The Eagles carried a 17-3 lead into the second half against the Titans and were up 17-0 on the Panthers at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Those are huge deficits to come back from, especially late.
"Quite frankly, we didn't make enough plays, offensively and defensively, in the second half," said Pederson of the Eagles' loss to the Panthers. "We had opportunities to get off the field, and we didn't. We had an opportunity to stay on the field offensively, and we didn't.
"It's something we've just got to take a look at. There were some positive things, obviously, but those are areas that have hurt us in a couple of games this season already."
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