Against the Atlanta Falcons week one, the Eagles played winning football and came away with a 26-point victory.
The Birds played great defense, showcased a turnover-free offense running the ball, and made timely, accurate passes.
Sunday, at a packed Lincoln Financial Field, under brilliant blue skies, the Eagles did none of those things. The result was a buzz-killing 17-11 loss to the San Francisco 49ers (2-0).
The Eagles committed mistake after mistake in this one.
The Eagles miscues began after starting the game with the Birds defense forcing consecutive three-and-outs then going on a 11-play, 52-yard drive that ended with a Jake Elliott 45-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
The Eagles (1-1) were dominating the line of scrimmage and the game throughout the first quarter.
After forcing a third three-and-out, the Eagles drove 47 yards to the 49ers 36-yard-line.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts hit Jalen Reagor with a 36-yard strike in the end zone that had the Linc shaking. Unfortunately Reagor stepped out of bounds by about an inch while running his go route and was called for illegal touching. The score was called back.
The Birds failed to move the ball and had to settle for three points…or so they thought.
Elliott had his 47-yard field goal attempt blocked with 14:16 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles followed that up by failing to score any points on a 96-yard drive that made it to first and goal from the one-yard line with 5:54 left in the second.
The first-and-goal was set up by a terrific 91-yard completion from Hurts to Quez Watkins who was dragged down at the Deommodore Lenior. A pass interference call set the Birds up at the one.
Three plays that lost three yards were followed by a botched double lateral play that ended with an incomplete pass from Greg Ward to Jalen Hurts.
Head Coach Nick Sirianni talked about his play calling and why he didn’t just sneak it in from the one as many times needed to get the six points?
“I think that that sneak is a little bit more from a little closer to be honest with you,” Sirianni said. “But, as it was in the end of the game when we snuck it when we were on the half-inch line or whatever it was.”
The coach paused for a second and seemed to reset his answer.
“I don't think I called good plays in that area,” Sirianni said. “There are going to be times where you're going to look at it and be like, ‘I want those calls back.’ When they work, it was a good play. They didn't. So, it was my fault. I didn't call good enough plays right there. I didn't put the players in good enough positions, but we're all in this together, coaches and players.”
The fourth-down call in particular, why the double reverse?
“Give them credit, first of all,” he said. “I think they did a great job, their defensive coordinator just did a really good job. So, I give them credit for some of the false things they were showing us. We thought it was a certain coverage; it wasn't. They did a good job of disguising it. 54 (LB Fred Warner) gets the show running out there and can get everybody lined up the way he needs to, so I give them credit first. Then I felt confident in the play. The play looked good in practice this last week. Felt confident in the coverage we were getting, and they didn't play it. That happens sometimes.
“On second thought do I want that play back?,” Sirianni continued. “Of course. Any time you call a play that doesn't work, especially in tight games and especially down there in a seven-point play you're going to want that back. So, I've got to call a better play.”
That run of bad offense seemed to affect the offense and Hurts could not get anything going until late in the fourth quarter when it was too little too late.
The 49ers made the score 7-3 just before halftime when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led San Fran on a 12-play, 97-yard back-breaking drive that ended with an eleven-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo to wide receiver Jauan Jennings with 12 seconds left before the break.
The 49ers made it 13-3 with 10:52 left in the fourth quarter when Garoppolo scored on a one-yard sneak. The 16-play, 92-yard drive was aided by a brutal illegal use of hands penalty on Fletcher Cox and a defensive pass interference call on safety Anthony Harris.
The 49ers stretched their lead to 17-2 with 5:07 left in the fourth quarter on 46-yard field goal by Bobbie Gould.
The Eagles scored on a drive after the field goal that actually was a brilliant piece of work by Hurts.
The second-year signal caller took just 61 seconds to drive the Eagles 75 yards for a score and two-point conversion.
Hurst scrambled for 37 yards and threw for 23 more. He scored on a one-yard sneak to make the final score 17-11 with 4:06 left. But the Eagles used all their timeouts on the previous drive so all the 49ers needed to do was get a first down to seal the game, which they did.
Hurts finished 12 of 23 for 190 yards. He was sacked twice – both by pass rusher Nick Bosa – and ran 10 times for 82 yards.
Hurts talked about the game.
“We had a lot of opportunities out there that we didn’t capitalize on,” Hurts said. “I think that’s plain and simple right there. We have to be consistent in our execution. I have to be consistent in my execution and operation as a field general. It’s something to learn from today – a lot to learn from. They were things we could control, so that’s what hurts the most. We give credit to a good team and a good defense out there. Those wounds out there were self-inflicted.”
The defense held San Francisco to 17 points after keeping Atlanta to just six points in week one. As good as Jonathan Gannon’s unit has been, the Birds defenders had their moments that contributed to the loss.
With just over six-minutes left in the fourth quarter, Derek Barnett committed an unsportsmanlike penalty negating a fumble and eight-yard loss.
The Eagles followed that up with another 15-yard penalty by K’Von Wallace that negated a turnover.
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who registered four total tackles, said it doesn’t matter that much to play well if you don’t win.
“I think, as a defense, we played good but, obviously, we didn’t play good enough to win,” Cox said. “You can take some good and bad from what just happened in this game today. You learn from the good – I mean you learn from the bad and even from the good stuff, the good plays we made today. You just learn from it. You go out and practice, correct the wrong and get ready for the next game.” *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii