from Rueben Frank...
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There’s something about this building, something about Arizona. The Eagles just lose heartbreakers here.
There was the 2008 NFC Championship Game. There was a 27-6 blowout at the hands of Kevin Kolb of all people in 2012. There was a loss here in 2005. And then this one, decided on the final play of the game.
There were a lot of positives Sunday in the Eagles’ 24-20 loss to the Cards at University of Phoenix Stadium, but too many negatives (see Instant Replay). Way too many. We’ll look at both of them in my 10 Instant Observations:
1. Excruciating way to lose a game, and although it’s easy to point to Carson Palmer’s game-winning 75-yard touchdown pass to John Brown, and rightfully so, a good dose of the blame has to go to the offense, still unable to punch in touchdowns deep in the red zone. In San Francisco, the Eagles couldn’t score from the 2-yard line in the fourth quarter and it cost them a game, and Sunday in Arizona, they couldn’t score from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter and had to settle for a field goal, which ultimately cost them another game. They’re only two losses this year. You’re not going to beat good teams on the road when you can’t convert in the red zone. The Eagles went into Sunday worst in the NFL in red-zone conversion and they were 0 for 2 against the Cards — along with a turnover at the goal line on a play just outside the red zone. With the weapons this offense has, they should not be worst in the NFL in the red zone.
2. It’s getting really tough to figure Nick Foles out. He makes remarkable throws, like the 54-yard touchdown to Jeremy Maclin or the improvised 50-yarder to Riley Cooper, then he throws inexplicable interceptions, two more Sunday, giving him nine this year. That’s the most by any Eagles QB through seven games since Randall Cunningham in 1989. Foles threw for 411 yards Sunday, but I still don’t know what to make of him. I still think he can put it all together and lead this team, but the bad turnovers have to stop, and they have to stop soon.
3. I’m sick of the people who call Maclin soft or injury prone. Maclin is a warrior, plain and simple. What a monster game he had Sunday. Took a ferocious hit in the second quarter Sunday and missed four snaps before returning to the game — then caught a 12-yard first down on his first snap after emerging from the locker room. He got tackled into a table of drinks and popped right back up. He goes out and returns punts because everybody else is hurt. He makes a tackle on an interception. Yeah, he missed last year with an ACL. People get hurt. But he’s missed just five games in five other seasons, and he’s really shown how good he is this year, with DeSean Jackson not on the other side. Maclin was a monstrous 12 for 187 Sunday and is now 39 for 653 with five touchdowns in seven games. He’s on pace for nearly 1,500 yards. One heck of a year he’s having.
4. OK, the big plays. They’re just killing the Eagles. And whether they’re short passes that turn into 80-yard TDs, like Carson Palmer’s 80-yard TD to Larry Fitzgerald, or bombs, like Palmer’s 75-yarder to Brown, they’re all killers. Chip Kelly keeps defending his cornerbacks, but somebody is giving up 285 passing yards per game.
5. I was going to write that by the time all is said and done, Cody Parkey will be the greatest kicker in Eagles history. But he’s already close. Consider this: Before this year, only five kickers had three 50-yarders in their entire Eagles career. Parkey now has five in seven games. He’s already tied the franchise record of three 50-yarders in a season. And he’s 13 for 14 overall. And his kickoffs are rocket shots. What a find.
6. And 11 penalties for 103 yards? Easy to blame the refs. It was an awful day for them. Just inconsistent all day. But most of the penalties against the Eagles seemed legit. That’s just lack of discipline, lack of fundamentals. Unacceptable.
7. It will go unnoticed, but the Eagles’ patchwork offensive line was really tremendous against one of the toughest, most physical fronts in the NFL. Foles threw 62 times and wasn’t sacked, which is remarkable. He’s been sacked just twice in the last six games, which is even more remarkable. And all this without Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce. The Eagles finished with a staggering 521 yards. This loss sure wasn’t on the O-line.
8. Somebody needs to explain to me why Chip Kelly didn’t call for a Hail Mary on the final play of the first half. With six seconds left and the Eagles on the Cards’ 44-yard line, why not chuck it up deep? Maybe you get a Rodney Peete-to-Rob Carpenter touchdown or, the way this game was being called, maybe a pass interference. Either way, nothing to lose.
9. Want to see more Chris Polk. Like the way he runs. Ran just three times Sunday but for a tough 13 yards through traffic. I trust him more than Bryce Brown in a big moment. If he can ever stay healthy, think he can be a very capable No. 2 back that gets a good bit of work each game. Kind of a Correll Buckhalter type. Good receiver, too, and tough blocker.
10. And finally this: The Eagles on Sunday became only the 11th team in NFL history to gain 521 or more yards and score 20 or fewer points. You gain 521 yards, you should score 40. Turnovers. Lack of them on defense and abundance of them on offense are very tough to overcome.