Eagles get important comeback win over Colts

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Yes, they won — but it might be officially time to get worried.

One loss could be explained away after an 8-0 start, but the Eagles’ offense turned in another terrible performance in their 17-16 win over Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, a win that will help them with playoff seeding but won’t inspire any fan to feel good about the team.

Still, the win was an important one, as it moved them to 9-1 and kept them in first place in the NFC.

There will be plenty to discuss from this one, but for now, here are some thoughts as the loss unfolded:

4th Quarter: Eagles 17, Colts 16
Trailing 13-3 and facing the potential of their second-straight loss the Eagles really needed someone to step up.

Hurts made an outstanding play at the beginning of the 4th quarter, taking off for a 23-yard run to get the Eagles down to the Colts’ 22-yard line. Two plays later he followed it up with a perfect throw to Quez Watkins for a 22-yard touchdown, pulling the Eagles to within 13-10.

On the next drive the defense stepped up (again) and came up with a huge turnover. At the end of a Jonathan Taylor run, Marcus Epps stripped the ball away, and TJ Edwards recovered it. The Eagles caught a bit of luck that the refs didn’t blow the play dead, but Taylor kept pushing despite being tackled, and Epps was able to rip it out.

The offense, however, ruined it right away as on the next drive AJ Brown fumbled the ball after a catch, giving the ball right back to the Colts. The defense stepped up yet again as they held the Colts out of the end zone to keep the Eagles within a touchdown, 16-10. (They also benefited from a missed face mask on 3rd down on Reddick that would have given the Colts a fresh set of downs from the one-yard line).

The Eagles offense got one last chance to win the game, down 16-10 with 4:31 to play. It was the kind of moment the Eagles needed Sirianni and Hurts to be special in.

Instead, there were a number of weird decisions. First, after a long pass interference gave them the ball on the Colts’ 28-yard line, they handed the ball off to Boston Scott on three-straight plays. Then, on 4th-and-2, they went to the line — with the clock not running — and faked a sneak, trying to get the Colts to jump offsides, and burned a timeout.

Then, on 4th down, they had Hurts run on a draw play up the middle, which he barely converted. The following play? Another run. Then, finally, on 3rd-and-7, Hurts ran it right up the middle on a broken play by the Colts defense, giving the Eagles a 17-16 lead.

3rd Quarter: Colts 13, Eagles 3
When the Eagles were playing dominating football this season they built their leads by building a lead right before half and then holding on in the third.

That certainly didn’t happen vs. the Colts.

The Eagles turned the ball over on the first play of the third quarter when Hurts was stripped of the ball in the pocket after rolling out. The culprit on the play seemed to be Jordan Mailata, who let Yannick Ngakoue go right by him and get to Hurts, who didn’t feel the pressure. The turnover was the Eagles fourth turnover in the last six quarters, and five if you include the end of play game against Washington. The defense saved the offense, keeping the Colts to a field goal despite starting with the ball just 22-yards from the end zone.

On the next drive the Eagles faced a 4th-and-10 on the Colts’ 39-yard line. Sirianni decided to go for it, an aggressive but somewhat understandable decision, but the play went terribly as Hurts had pressure in his face almost immediately and ran out of bounds while trying to escape pressure. Hurts probably should have thrown it away earlier to avoid losing more yards, but the play was yet another example of how this unit is nowhere near the high-flying unit it was just a few weeks ago.

2nd Quarter: Colts 7, Eagles 3
After what was pretty much four-straight quarters of poor play the Eagles offense got things going at the start of the second quarter — but still hurt themselves with sloppy mistakes. After converting three third-downs to get all the way down to the Colts’ 2-yard line, a bad snap from Jason Kelce sent the Eagles back to the 10, putting them in a third-and-long situation. The offense was unable to convert, and instead of going for it on 4th-and-goal from the four-yard line, Sirianni kicked the field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3 with just over five minutes to play in the half.

The offense got the ball back with 2:33 to play in the half, but went three-and-out, a disappointing result especially after picking up nine-yards on first down.

On defense the Eagles cleaned things up. After the opening drive touchdown they forced three-straight punts, holding the Colts to just 36-total yards on 13 plays. The run defense definitely improved, but the Eagles got some help from the Colts play calling, as after dominating against the run to start the game they for some reason started calling more passes as the game went on.

Special teams got into the action in the second quarter with a false-start on fourth-down, then allowing a 17-yard return, giving the Colts the ball near midfield with 1:43 to play in the second quarter. The sequence allowed the Colts to get a field goal before the end of the half and take a 10-7 lead into the locker room.

1st Quarter: Colts 7, Eagles 0 
The beginning of the game was a strong indication that the Eagles felt their issues against the run were personnel driven. Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh were both out on the field on the opening defensive drive, with Joseph starting the game. They were also both in on a key 3rd-and-1 play. Yes, the Eagles had injury issues at defensive tackle, but putting Joseph and Suh in over Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave on the opening drive of the game when they just signed a few days ago was very telling.

The Eagles let the Colts go right down the field on the opening drive for a 7-0 lead, a drive where Jonathan Taylor — a plane the Eagles had to spend all week game planning for — averaged 7.0 yards-per-carry.

On offense the team wasn’t much better. The Eagles managed just one first down on their opening drive, and on their next drive, three-straight penalties put them in a 1st-and-35 situation. They finished the quarter with four penalties for 35 yards.

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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