NASHVILLE (CBS)— It looked over. It was just a matter of Kevin Kolb handing the ball to LeSean McCoy and it might have been. But with just over six minutes left in the third quarter, and the Eagles ready to tack on another score, a fumble cost the Eagles on multiple fronts. And the Tennessee Titans took full advantage.
Tennessee rebounded by scoring a franchise-record 27 fourth-quarter points and flipped what looked like a game controlled by the Eagles into an overwhelming 37-19 Tennessee victory. The loss drops the Eagles to 4-3 entering the bye week, while Tennessee improves to 5-2.
Kerry Collins, the 16-year veteran, looked 15 years younger, completing 17 for 31 for 276 yards and three touchdowns, and Kenny Britt did his best Jerry Rice imitation, catching for more yards than any other opposing receiver in Eagles’ history, hauling in seven passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns. Britt, who’s had to deal with some off-the-field issues, averaged 32.1 yards a catch. Britt’s 225 yards eclipsed the previous Eagles’ record of 213 yards by an opposing receiver, formerly held by Dallas Cowboy Tony Hill against the Eagles in 1979.
The Eagles’ defense did a very good job containing Titans’ explosive tailback Chris Johnson, who was held to 66 yards rushing on 24 carries, for a meager 2.8 yards per carry. But they apparently somehow, someway forgot about Britt, who had a combined total of 209 yards receiving in the five previous games he played. Collins threw a few passes up for grabs, it seemed, only to have Britt pull them down. Eagles’ cornerback Ellis Hobbs looked completely lost, like a child being toyed with by a grown man, in dealing with the much larger two-year receiver out of Rutgers.
The loss wasted a great effort from Eagles’ rookie receiver Riley Cooper, who caught three passes for 51 yards, including a touchdown.
But overall, the Eagles’ offense had its problems. Philadelphia did not have a first down in the fourth quarter. The Eagles went three-and-out in their first three fourth-quarter possessions.
It came back to the crucial fumble in the third quarter, when the Eagles had a 16-7 lead on first-and-goal with the ball sitting on the Titans’ three. Tennessee defensive tackle Jason Jones came knifing through the offensive line untouched, hitting Kolb as he tried to hand the ball to McCoy, who dribbled away the ball. The Titans’ Alterraun Verner jumped on the loose ball at the two, and the Titans got a Rob Bironas’ 41-yard field goal out of it. Eagles’ center Mike McGlynn later owned up to the flubbed play, saying he should have picked up Jones slicing through the center-guard gap, and impeded his way to Kolb.
Eagles’ coach Andy Reid blamed the fumble for turning the sway of the game.
“We had an opportunity to really put a hammer on things and the turnover at the three-yard line can’t happen,” Reid said. “There are things we can take out of this and learn from this. I come back to the turnover that we had in changing the momentum.
“The turnover was absolutely brutal there. We had 10 penalties and that’s way too many. Kenny Britt had a good game. They got penetration on [the fumble inside the Titans’ five]. There are no excuses. We have to do a better job, but listen, I’m not going to pinpoint guys. I have to take responsibility, especially for the same guy to catch the ball over and over. Kevin [Kolb]’s play was up-and-down. He battled through it and he had some good plays, and he had some plays I’m sure he’d like back.”
“We had a miscue there and that just can’t happen,” Kolb said about the third-quarter fumble. “It was a bang-bang play that I didn’t even know what happened. We know exactly what went wrong, we made a mistake, I felt like we battled, but I’ll tell you right now, I missed a lot of easy ones early and we let them hang around. I have to execute those plays early. We just let them hang around and in the NFL, that’s going to get you in trouble. You take the missed ones by me and the fumble down there and it’s a totally different game. We can’t settle, and it starts with me.”
The Eagles scored 10 points in the last 1:52 of the first half.
Until then, Kolb and the Eagles were sharp. By the half, Kolb completed 15 of 26 passes for 145 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Many of Kolb’s passes were either overthrown or underthrown. But Kolb did convert 7 of 10 third-down situations. Collins, on the other hand, wasn’t effective at all. Through the first two quarters, the former Penn State quarterback was 6-for-14 for a paltry 62 yards—26 coming on Collins’ first TD pass to Britt.
Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito