DETROIT, MI (CBS) — It was buried deep within Carson Wentz, and in the end, he couldn’t help it. The gunslinger had to emerge and on his 135th pass in the NFL came his first interception.
It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
Wentz was near-perfect in his first three games in the NFL and the question was out there how the rookie would do when pressed. That was answered, to a point, on Sunday when the Eagles struggled early against the 1-3 Detroit Lions, only to lose, 24-23.
It was the first time the Eagles lost this year and it appeared more on what the Eagles didn’t do than what Detroit did do.
“We just came up a little bit short and this is still a good football team,” Doug Pederson said. “We’re learn from the penalties and the mistakes. We rallied and came back in the second half. The sign of a good football team, people could start pointing fingers and they didn’t. [Carson] has played great. I’m kind of glad he got that first interception away.”
When it appeared the Eagles were being pulled apart like warm bread—especially the defense, it was “The Kid” that kept them in it. But Wentz threw an interception looking for Nelson Agholor and Detroit’s Darius Slay came down with it instead with less than a minute and the Lions killed the clock.
The Eagles faced deficits of 14-0 and 21-7. They committed 14 penalties for 111 yards, to Detroit’s 2 penalties for 18 yards.
The Lions took a 21-10 lead into halftime—and it seemed far worse than that. If not for Wentz, it could have been. Detroit scored on its first three drives and amassed 199 yards, and were helped considerably by eight first-half penalties for 76 yards—both season highs.
By the third quarter, things began to settle. The Eagles came back at Detroit, shredding the Lions on their next four drives, with a touchdown, field goal, touchdown and field goal. It appeared they would be in a position to come back, after Nigel Bradham’s fumble recovery led to Caleb Sturgis’s 33-yard field goal put the Eagles to within 21-20.
“The defense gave us an opportunity to win the game,” Pederson said. “They just seemed to be a half-step ahead of us in the [first half]. The way they hung together and battled in the second half. That was the impressive thing. We could have just packed it up and went to the house, and they didn’t do that.”
Bradham, who played little in the first half, was exceptional. The linebacker who had some troubles leading up to this game helped erase some of that with three tackles for losses and a fumble recovery. Bradham’s read on a screen pass to Theo Riddick for a 6-yard loss forced a punt. It seemed the Eagles were in a position to escape.
But with 2:34 left to play, running back Ryan Mathews fumbled the ball away—the Eagles’ first turnover this season—at the Philadelphia 45. It came when Detroit had exhausted its timeouts.
Then everything collapsed.
Jalen Mills couldn’t keep up with Golden Tate. A late hit brought the Lions closer to the goal line and Matt Prater booted a 29-yard field goal with 1:28 left for a 24-23 Lions’ lead.
Wentz finished completing 25 of 33 for 238 yards, two touchdowns and one crushing interception.