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By Joseph Santoliquito
Denver, CO (CBS) — Chip Kelly said he was willing to play Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in a parking lot. Looks like the Eagles’ coach got his wish. The Birds played Denver in a parking lot all right.
A vacant parking lot apparently.
Because no one was around wide-open Bronco receivers for yards it seemed on Sunday, as Manning and the Broncos did what was expected they would do to the woeful Eagles’ secondary and dissected them up for a 52-20 victory.
The Eagles dropped to 1-3—losers of three-straight—and the Broncos remained undefeated at 4-0.
The score was pathetic. The effort was pathetic. The special teams were pathetic (a blocked punt converted into a touchdown and a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown). The difference between the Super Bowl contender Broncos and the rebuilding Eagles was pathetically huge.
The 52 points scored by the Broncos was a franchise record. It was also the most points the Eagles have surrendered since the 62-10 blowout they suffered to the New York Giants on November 26, 1972.
Denver amassed 472 yards of total offense, had 250 yards after the catch, though more importantly, the Broncos were 5-for-5 in the red zone to the Eagles’ 2-for-5.
“We just have to stick together as a group,” Kelly said. “I think they’re down obviously, but I have confidence in them that we’ll stick together as a group. It wasn’t pretty. Offensively, we had too many drops and too many penalties that kill drives. I felt that we could move the ball on them. We would get the ball down there and we would end up with field goals, and that’s not going to win. You can’t trade three for sevens with Peyton.”
Pulled early in the fourth quarter and the game well decided, Manning was 28-34 for 327 yards and four touchdowns. Michael Vick was 14 for 27 for 248 yards without a touchdown.
For a brief moment, an Eagles’ miracle flickered after a second-quarter Chris Polk 4-yard touchdown brought Philadelphia to within 14-13 with 11:06 left in the half. But the Polk score was immediately answered by Manning and the Broncos, with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that concluded on Knowshon Moreno’s 4-yard TD that absorbed 6:01 off the clock.
Even tight end James Casey made an appearance. He came off a milk carton to make a catch on the Eagles’ opening drive. Then he returned to obscurity. An opposing defense put the clamps again on DeSean Jackson, who caught two passes for 34 yards.
In a game when there was little room for error, the Eagles made many. Why Kelly opted to take a delay-of-game penalty around 2 minutes left in the half—giving the ball back to Manning—is anyone’s guess. Brent Celek’s drop on Vick’s pass on a third-and-four at the Denver 17 that could have been a first down. Just to name a few.
It was a fun, competitive game for a half. The Eagles trailed 21-13 and appeared as if they might hang around. Manning squelched that thought by directing Denver to three-straight touchdown drives in the second half, turning a close game into a 42-13 blowout entering the fourth quarter.
“I thought we really needed that first drive in the first half, that was key for us to keep us in this thing and we didn’t do it offensively,” Kelly said. “I thought offensively, we had some drive killers. We coach them in practice and when we see people holding, we correct them. That’s where we are right now. Good teams don’t stop themselves.”
The Eagles needed to play close to perfect to beat Denver and they were far from that. The Eagles were flagged eight times for 62 yards—five of those penalties resulted in Denver first downs. The Broncos converted 5 of 8 third downs.
“When you play a team like this, you can’t hurt yourself, and we hurt ourselves too much offensively,” Kelly said. “The plan was to give [Manning] different looks and to see if you can generate some rush. You have to wrap and tackle and we didn’t do it enough today. I’ll be able to answer the question [about progress and growth] on Tuesday. If we come out and we’re hanging out heads, then I’ll say we didn’t see any progress and growth. But I think we have to understand this is a tough-ass league and you’re playing against some really good teams.
“If you feel sorry for yourself, as I tell people all of the time, 90-percent of the people don’t care about your problems and 10-percent are glad you have them. We have to go back to work and that’s the only thing we know how to do. We’re going out to work and figure this thing out and I really believe we will. I don’t think, ‘Holy smokes, this season is over.’”