By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — Chip Kelly spent his Sunday evening walking the sideline wearing a perpetual quizzical palm’s-up look. The Eagles’ coach was at his animated best trying to figure out where some non-calls were from referee Bill Vinovich and his crew, wanting answers.
Compounding that, of course, was the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, and their ensemble of stars Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman and newfound star receiver Doug Baldwin.
The visiting Seahawks are a truth machine. They were going to provide answers all right. They outgained the Eagles 440 yards of total offense to the Eagles lowest total under Kelly, 139 yards, in an emphatic 24-14 victory at Lincoln Financial Field. Seattle provided the kind of answers the Eagles didn’t want—that they’re a second-tier team behind Green Bay and Seattle.
The 14 points was another season low for the Eagles, who are now 9-4 along with Seattle, which like Arizona and Green Bay, owns the tiebreaker over the Eagles.
Seattle left a vapor trail over the Eagles, proving how much more the Eagles have to climb before they’re considered genuine Super Bowl contenders.
The Eagles’ high octane offense was reduced to going 2-for-11 on third down conversions. With 13:33 left to play, Seattle had more than doubled the Eagles in total yards, 361-127, and ran off 65 plays to the Eagles’ 38.
LeSean McCoy entered the game needing 48 yards to surpass Wilbert Montgomery as the Eagles’ all-time leading rusher. He reached it gaining 50 yards on 17 carries—when he wasn’t tripping over himself. McCoy had 6,491 yards in 86 games, playing in 13 fewer games than Montgomery.
He was rendered a non-factor.
Now the question begs to be asked: Are the true Eagles the team that blew out Dallas, 33-10, on Thanksgiving or the Eagles that stumbled horribly against the NFC crème de la crème Green Bay and Seattle by a combined 77-34 and outgained by 915-568?
Wilson completed 22 of 37 for 263 yards, and had Trent Cole and the rest of the Eagles defense almost literally running in circles, selling ball fakes to Lynch, while scooting out the back side of the pursuit for 48 yards rushing—including a 26-yard, second-quarter touchdown.
Baldwin caught five passes for a game-high 97 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter when safety Malcolm Jenkins was stranded in one-on-one coverage. The Baldwin score gave Seattle a 24-14 lead.
“The [Russell Wilson] play was a bad call, I all-out blitzed, and he made a better call than I had, [Wilson] got outside of Trent and I put Trent in a bad situation,” Eagles’ defensive coordinator Billy Davis said. “There were a couple of calls that I wished I had back that turned into touchdowns. One was Malcolm [Jenkins, on the Baldwin score]. I could have had a lot better calls.
“Sometimes, you miss. Every call has a strength and a weakness and sometimes you put a player in a weak spot. I put Trent in a real bad place, same thing with Malcolm. The read-option hit in the all-out blitz [on the Wilson run]. No help. Everybody’s gone. Same thing with Malcolm. I went all in and I was trying to keep them off balance. They had a nice protection that gave them one more second to hold it. They had a better day than us.”
Davis said the Lynch touchdown, on the throw back play, was something the Eagles were aware of. The Eagles didn’t stay in their coverage.
Mark Sanchez was 10 for 20, for 96 yards. Though this debacle can’t be placed all on him. Seattle had a lot to do with it. The Seahawks clamped down on Jeremy Maclin and kept everything in front of them.
Seahawks’ corner Richard Sherman laughed when asked if the victory was as easy as it looked. The Eagles longest play was a Sanchez-to-Zach Ertz 35-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. By halftime, Seattle had six plays of 20 yards or more.
Seattle finished with 28 first downs to the Eagles’ 9.
“We knew what they were going to do, and that comes from studying,” Sherman said. “We knew the indicators and what plays they like to do. Their motion, everything was an indicator. Every movement, every formation was an indicator. That comes from great coaching, great preparation. I think there was a stat that said [Seahawks coach] Pete [Carroll] has a great record after time off to prepare.”
With 9:07 left to play, the Eagles had a chance to get within a score of the Seahawks, after Mychal Kendricks forced a fumble and Jenkins came up with it on the Eagles’ 30.
On the next play, however, Sanchez promptly threw up a duck intended for Riley Cooper, who turned the wrong way and never came back for the ball, and waiting there for the interception was Seattle’s Tharold Simon with 9:00 remaining.
It got worse. On the next series, the Eagles went backwards, when Sanchez was sacked on consecutive plays—and that sounded the surrender bell. Fans began leaving in droves at the 4:21 mark.
The Eagles never saw the ball again—though how the tenor of this game was heading, it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
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