Eagles overreactions: Doug Pederson’s decision lost the game originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles have one win in six games this season.
Here are three overreactions from the … except they might not be overreactions:
1. Doug Pederson lost the Eagles this game
Against all odds, after a scoreless first half and a 16-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter, the Eagles lined up for a two-point conversion with less than two minutes to play and a chance to tie the game.
And then Doug Pederson lost them the game, by not calling a pass play.
Because Carson Wentz was the only reason it was a game in the first place.
Wentz drove the Eagles down the field, twice, completing seven of 10 passes on the two scoring drives. He completed the second two-point conversion attempt of the game, a pass to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside of all players. After a miserable, embarrassing first half of offense, Wentz was stellar in the clutch despite having a murderer’s row of injuries to deal with, on top of everyone who was hurt before they entered the game.
Then Pederson overthought the most important play of the game, and the Eagles lost.
You can’t put this one on Carson Wentz, who played a hell of a game considering the circumstances. You can’t put this one on the defense – or if you can, not entirely – considering two of the Ravens’ touchdown drives went less than 50 yards.
But you can put this one on the head coach who didn’t let his best player have one more shot at throwing the ball, and instead called a strange interior rush play in a short-yardage situation despite having a banged-up, swiss cheese offensive line. It was a bad decision, and it cost the Eagles the game.
2. Travis Fulgham is the Eagles’ best offensive player
As we’ve mentioned all year, the Birds don’t exactly have any game-breakers on the offense. But they might’ve found a top-three wide receiver for years to come in Travis Fulgham.
With another week of DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey sitting out, and Fulgham coming off a huge performance against the Steelers, the Ravens’ clear point of emphasis on defense in the first half was to try and shut down the Birds’ surprise star wide receiver.
Fulgham had one catch for 19 yards on two targets in the first 30 minutes of the game, and I honestly had a hard time blaming him for being shut down by a Wink Martindale defense now that the tape was out on his game.
But Fulgham came alive in the second half, catching five passes for 56 yards and a contested fourth-down touchdown, essentially for the game, against one of the best defenses and secondary units in the league – and with Wentz favorite Zach Ertz in the locker room.
Fulgham now has 18 catches for 284 yards and three touchdowns in three games. Over 16 games, that’s 96 catches for 1,514 yards and 16 touchdowns.
What a world.
3. This shouldn’t count as a moral victory
I’m not fully anti-moral victory. You can glean silver linings from losses, particularly in games like Sunday’s, when you’re not expected to keep it close.
But Sunday’s game, despite the pre-game point spread and the 17-point deficit, was entirely winnable for the Eagles.
The defense forced six Baltimore punts on Sunday, a feat considering Lamar Jackson felt like a definitive mismatch for Jim Schwartz’s men. Two of those punts came early, when Baltimore held a slight 7-0 lead. That’s plenty of opportunity for Doug Pederson’s team to get into the game earlier than trying to cobble a quick fourth quarter comeback together, when they scored 22 of their 28 points.
The Eagles aren’t a good team, that much is clear. But the Ravens aren’t their 2019 world-beating selves, and Sunday’s game was within reach if they make simple plays – like catching simple touchdown passes from Carson Wentz to Miles Sanders and John Hightower.
Losing a game that you can (and maybe should?) win isn’t a moral victory, particularly when it’s your fourth loss in six games.