The stakes for the Eagles were pretty clear entering Sunday’s game at home against the Cardinals.
They needed to win to keep their flickering playoff chances alive because a loss would drop them to 3-6 in an NFC race that’s jampacked at the top. They struggled to get anything going offensively all day, but still found themselves up 17-14 with five minutes to play against a team quarterbacked by John Skelton. They couldn’t make it stand up.
Skelton completed 5-of-8 passes for 100 yards (there were a couple of negative plays to allow him to rack up so much yardage) and hit Early Doucet for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 21-17 victory. The biggest play of the drive was a 37-yard completion to Larry Fitzgerald that set the Cards up on the one just before the two-minute warning. The ball looked like it was overthrown, but Fitzgerald laid out and caught it fully extended to make the kind of play that has secured him a right to argue that he’s the best receiver in football. Fitzgerald finished the day with seven catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, which was just the kind of superstar performance the Eagles needed from their quarterback.
Michael Vick wasn’t up to the task, though. He completed just 16 of 34 passes and was intercepted twice, including an A.J. Jefferson pick on the final drive of the game. Vick had two more picks called back on replay reviews, drew a flag for intentional grounding and generally played a terrible game when the Eagles desperately needed so much more.
He was hardly alone in blame for another fourth quarter fold. The Eagles had bad penalties throughout the game, including a pair on the drive that ended the game, and the defense couldn’t stop Skelton when the game was on the line. You also have to wonder why LeSean McCoy gets just 14 carries, or you would if you didn’t know Andy Reid’s history on that front.
You have to wonder what this loss will do to Reid’s security, as his team has now lost four fourth-quarter leads at home this season and almost certainly will wind up wildly underachieving compared to expectations this season. His decision to banish DeSean Jackson will surely come under fire and if things get much worse it may be impossible for the Eagles to stick with their longtime coach.