By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles were shut down at home by the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. The Eagles may be on track for an NFC East title, but the Seahawks showed just how far the Eagles have to go before truly competing at an elite level in the NFC and NFL. With a 24-14 setback Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles were dealt a dose of reality and given plenty to think about and work on before next Sunday night’s home game against the division rival Dallas Cowboys.
Mark Sanchez had a rough game against one of the best defenses he will face all season. Sanchez completed just half of his pass attempts (10-of-20) for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once and off target throughout the game. Sacked three times, Sanchez was not given much help from his supporting cast with the Seahawks shutting down the Eagles running game as well. Grade: C-
The Eagles were never able to get much momentum on offense against one of the league’s top defenses. Seattle shut down the Eagles offense from start to finish, holding LeSean McCoy to just 50 rushing yards and an average of 2.9 yards per rushing attempt. Jordan Matthews and Jeremy Maclin were frustrated all game long against the aggressive Seattle secondary and the Eagles held the football for a fraction of the time Seattle owned possession of the football. Philadelphia really struggled to stay on the field, converting just two of 11 third-downs into first downs. The Eagles were even held to fewer than 150 yards of offense. Grade: D
The defense played well enough to keep this game within reach for the offense, but it also gave up some big plays. The Eagles held Seattle to 10 points in the first half, highlighted by a 26-yard touchdown run by Russell Wilson. The defense was also put in a bad spot by the offense at the start of the second half, and it was unable to bail out the offense for a bad turnover. After the Eagles pulled within three points in the third quarter, the defense allowed the Seahawks to move 91 yards for a score in five plays, aided in part by a very questionable pass interference call that may have been a missed offensive pass interference call. The Seahawks converted six of 15 third down attempts against the Eagles and kept Marshawn Lynch fairly contained for much of the game. Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks each led the way for the defense and the Eagles recorded three sacks and two turnovers. Grade: B
The Eagles came up with a nice defensive special teams effort in the early stages of the game by recovering a botched punt for great field position, and Josh Huff averaged 31 yards per return on kickoff returns. Overall though, the Eagles special teams never had a chance to become much of a game-changer. Darren Sproles nearly lost a muffed punt return and Cody Parkey was not given a chance to kick a field goal. Punter Donnie Jones was dependable with an average of 43.9 yards per punt and three punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Grade: B+
The reality is the Eagles already knew they had work to do to be considered among the elite in the NFC. The Eagles were blown out on the road by Green Bay and lost games on the road against NFC West teams Arizona and San Francisco. Add one more loss to Seattle and now the Eagles are going to have to really turn things up a notch down the stretch to play for home field advantage. Next week the Eagles are back at home in another spotlight game when the Cowboys come to town. Dallas is coming to town off a loss after losing on Thanksgiving to the Eagles. The Eagles still have the upper hand in the NFC East, but Chip Kelly and his team have to take a look in the mirror and realize they are not at the level of the top teams in the NFC, never mind the NFL, just yet.
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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.