EAST RUTHERFORD: NFL Teams are supposed to come out of the Bye Week energized and ready to take on the world...you would think.
That was not the case Sunday at an empty MetLife Stadium as the Eagles looked like they were playing out the string of games in a season to forget for many reasons.
After two weeks off, 17 points was all the Eagles could muster Sunday against the New York Giants. The Birds (3-5-1) gave up 27 points to a Giants team that was scoring just over 18 points a game.
The Birds scored just 17 points on a team that was allowing over 24 points per game.
For the Giants (3-7), this victory was a big one.
The 27-17 win snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Eagles.
For some reason, the Birds simply appeared to be a flat...uninspired. They did not seem to be playing with a sense of urgency in all phases of the game.
Head coach Doug Pederson was asked after the game if he felt his team was lacking energy.
“I felt like the guys were ready to go,” Pederson said. “I’m obviously disappointed and it’s on me that we played the way we did today, quite honestly. But I felt the energy was good. It’s difficult obviously without the fans, but both teams have to deal with it and can’t make excuses for it. We’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot, that’s the bottom line. All three phases had a hand in this loss today with the penalties and not good enough."
The Eagles fell behind early, trailing 14-3 after the first play of the second quarter. Big Blue scored on a 34-yard run by quarterback Daniel Jones on his team's first possession. The G-Men scored their second touchdown on a two-yard leap into the end zone by Wayne Gallman, Jr.
On the Eagles first drive of the third quarter, Boston Scott scored on a tight-rope-along-the-sideline 56-yard run followed by a Mile Sanders two-point conversion.
That made the score 14-11. Would the Giants fold again like they've done so many times in the past?
Not this day.
Jones responded with a six-play, 75-yard run drive to make the score 21-11. The drive was highlighted by a 27-yard completion to Sterling Shepard, followed by a 38-yard bullet to Golden Tate.
Those big plays set up Gallman for a second short-yardage score from the one.
To his credit, Carson Wentz responded with an eight-play 75-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown run by Corey Clement making the score 21-17.
The Birds missed the two-point try. Unfortunately for Eagles Nation, that was the end of scoring by the Birds for the day.
Jones said he felt very confident on the drive that answered the Eagles great start of the third quarter.
“We were confident in what we were doing all day,” Jones said at his post-game video conference. "From an offensive standpoint, we felt like we were moving the ball and executing. The Eagles came out fast and scored. Being able to answer there was big for us. The defense bowed up and played huge down the stretch. A lot of credit to those guys and how they played. Offensively, we felt like we were executing. It was up to us to keep drives going, to execute and keep the ball going forward.”
The Giants tacked on two field goals in the fourth quarter to seal the deal. Pederson said he would take responsibility for his team not being ready. But what happened and how can he explain the team coming out and playing the way it did early in the game?
“It’s hard to explain because you go into the game feeling really good,” Pederson said. “We were getting some guys back, guys were feeling fresh and ready, had a good week of preparation, you know. Listen, it came down to execution, it came down to some decision-making on my part, I mean we all had a hand in this one. It had nothing to do with effort or intensity, had nothing to do with that.”
Wentz was 21 for 37 for 208 yards, no touchdown passes, no interceptions, no lost fumbles. He was sacked three times.
Sanders rushed 15 times for 85 yards, Scott carried the ball three times 63 yards including his big touchdown run.
Richard Rogers caught four passes for 60 yards. Jalen Reagor caught four passes for 47 yards.
Greg Ward grabbed five passes for 39 yards and Dallas Goedert recorded four catches for 33 yards.
The Eagles two biggest receivers were invisible.
Travis Fulgham was targeted five times and had just one catch for eight yards. Alshon Jeffery – playing his first game in what seems like forever - was targeted just once and had no receptions.
The most basic rule in football is that the team that wins the turnover battle usually wins the game. Incredibly there were no interceptions or lost fumbles in the game by either team.
Looking for a telling stat? Eagles were 0 for 9 on third down conversions.
Wentz was asked about the woeful results on third down.
"I’ve got to watch the tape, honestly,” Wentz said. “I knew we struggled on third down, I didn’t realize we were that poor. Anytime you’re 0-for-9 obviously you’re not doing something very well. And hats off to them, they had a good game plan. That’s a good defense over there, they made it hard on us, but we definitely made it tougher on ourselves, left some plays out there, didn’t execute enough. 0-for-9 on third down is extremely frustrating and I think that something we pride ourselves on is staying on the field on third down and we didn’t do it today.”
Wentz was asked if he could put his finger on why the offense was so inconsistent Sunday. Was it the Giants? Or the Eagles beating themselves?
“It’s hard to put your finger on one thing as to why we were kind of inconsistent offensively,” Wentz said. “I think we did some decent things at times throughout the game and we struggled. For one, we didn’t stay on the field, we just talked about how 0-for-9 on third down makes it tough. But like I said earlier, you’ve got to credit that defense, they definitely disguised a lot of looks and brought all sorts of different pressures and made it tough on us. They played a great game and we didn’t do enough to win.”
Jones was 21 of 28 for 244 yards, no touchdown passes, no interceptions and no lost fumbles. He did rush nine times for 64 yards including his 34-yard touchdown. He was sacked three times.
Darius Slayton caught fives passes for 93 yards and Gallman rushed 18 times for 53 yards and the two scores.
Once again, the Wentz-led Eagles fell behind to start the game. Pederson was asked what can he do about that? What happens? The Birds have been down so much early – double-digits six of the first nine games. How can he avoid that? What does he have to do differently?
“I think it takes everybody,” the coach said. “I think it takes intensity in practice, I think it takes everybody being on the same page. I think there’s a work ethic. I think it’s a pride thing for the guys as a team to just say, ‘Enough is enough.’ Listen, I know we’ve been plagued with a lot of injuries and it’s been a part of our season so far, but there’s still a lot of pride left in that locker room. Guys are mad, guys are upset, I’m mad that we lost this game today, but we’ve got a great opportunity next week to get it fixed.”
The Eagles are running out of time. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii