November 26, 2015
This was a game the Eagles (4-7) had to have, plain and simple. Just as simply, though, they failed to show up with the sense of urgency required to win in this league.
Just a few weeks ago, the Detroit Lions were an NFL doormat, now they’re surging with three wins in a row, including a signature win against the Packers in Lambeau. It almost felt like Philadelphia didn’t know they were playing a team with talent across the board. Detroit has a young, hungry defense and a deep and versatile corps of skill players. Not to mention a man with as much arm talent as anyone in the NFL in Matthew Stafford.
All of that was on display as Stafford threw for five touchdowns, three to his favorite receiver Calvin Johnson. The defense of Detroit proved to be faster than the entire Philadelphia offense on a day where three and outs were nearly more common than first downs for the Eagles. The game plan going in for the Eagles was clearly to spread the defense thin, but the sideline-to-sideline athleticism of the Detroit linebackers shut down the running game as well as the quick-hitting lateral passing game that Chip Kelly leans heavily on.
The Eagles defense lost a key piece early in the game, while it was still close with Nolan Carroll going down with a broken ankle. That left the Eagles with just three corners on the active roster, dangerously thin against a receiving corps headlined by Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson. Stafford went to work immediately on Carroll’s replacement, rookie Eric Rowe who was unwilling to drive on short routes, trying not to give up the big play. Eventually he got burned both ways, giving up two of Johnson’s three touchdowns.
The secondary was only part of the problem for the Eagles. Anyone not named Vinny Curry (two sacks) was completely unable to pressure Stafford who took the clean pocket and showed why he was once the number one overall pick in the draft, carving the Eagles secondary with pin-point accuracy. His most impressive throw of the day, arguably, was a drop by tight end Brandon Pettigrew. As with much of the season, the Lions were also unable to consistently run the football, but the passing game combined with a stifling defense was more than enough to win the day.
The Eagles must lick their wounds quickly, as a road trip to Foxborough to play the undefeated Patriots looms large for Chip Kelly’s unit. The Lions try to stay alive in the crowded NFC wild card race at 4-7 with the Packers visiting next week with revenge on the mind.