By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles let one get away from them in Arizona, and that should hurt. The Eagles gave up big plays, went lifeless inside the red zone and lost three turnovers. And they still almost won. The Cardinals sent the Eagles home with a bitter 24-20 defeat to drop the Eagles to 5-2 this season. And now the grades are in.
Nick Foles may have passed for 411 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he completed just 36 of 61 pass attempts and was picked off twice. One of those interceptions came inside the red zone. In the fourth quarter, quarterbacks need to lead their team to victory and on this particular day Foles was unable to do that. Grade: C
The Eagles rolled up 521 yards of offense, with 411 of those yards coming through the air. LeSean McCoy rushed for 83 yards but no Eagles player carried the football over the goal line. Jeremy Maclin was the big playmaker of the game for the Eagles with a career high 187 yards and two touchdowns. Maclin was targeted 16 times and he caught 12 of those passes. Tight end Zach Ertz caught five of the eight passes his way as well. The play calling at times was questionable, but the Eagles had three turnovers and converted just 9 of 20 third-down conversion attempts. When playing on the road, that just will not get it done for the Eagles. Despite it all, the Eagles had a chance to win the game on the final play of the game, and came very close to pulling it out. Grade: B
The Eagles defense only forced one turnover and got burned badly for a pair of long touchdowns. In the second half, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald hooked up for an 80-yard touchdown out of halftime and late in the fourth quarter the Eagles were burned by Palmer again. This time it was John Brown down the middle of the field outrunning the Eagles secondary for a 75-yard touchdown. This proved to be the game-winner. The secondary has been sketchy all season, so this was nothing new. This time though, it cost the Eagles a win. Arizona racked up 400 yards of offense and converted seven of 17 third-down conversions. Palmer had 329 passing yards, but almost half of that came on the two long touchdown plays. The defense had some good moments though, including breaking up a pass in the end zone that would have put the Cardinals in front earlier in the fourth quarter, but instead held Arizona to a field goal. The Eagles also held Arizona to just 71 rushing yards. Grade: C–
One bright spot that continues to shine for the Eagles this season is the special teams. Rookie kicker Cody Parkey again was automatic on his two field goal attempts. Parkey’s big highlight came midway through the third quarter with a 54-yard field goal to pull the Eagles within four points. The Eagles did not get much out of the return game, although there were few opportunities. Maclin returned a pair of punts for a combined total of 25 yards and Josh Huff returned one kickoff for 26 yards. Grade: A–
COSTLY MISTAKES LEAD TO LOSS
The Eagles were so close to coming home with a record of 6-1, but self-inflicted mistakes and some questionable play calling held the Eagles back. The Eagles were flagged for 11 penalties for 103 yards, although it was although afternoon for the referees as well. The Eagles lost the turnover battle, three to one, and went 0-for-3 inside the red zone. Despite all that, the Eagles still came within one play of getting out of Arizona with a win. It is certainly no moral victory that will change much, but the Eagles did show an ability to move down field against a team playing good defense to put the team in position for a win. Sure, this loss will sting for a few days, but the Eagles remain in a good position in the NFC East and NFC moving forward.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.