Bird Watch: Peters Hurt, Offense Struggles in Dismal Loss to Raiders

There is certainly a lot to critique about the Eagles’ performance this afternoon. Before the details and in-depth analysis are exploited, let’s get the main fact out of the way: The Oakland Raiders defeated Philadelphia by a score of 13-9. The offensive line fell victim to the defensive front of the Raiders in the Black Hole, allowing 6 sacks of QB Donovan McNabb, and what seemed to be constant pressure. To go along with their inconsistent and lowly offensive display, the Eagles also failed to execute properly on special teams, as K David Akers missed on two of his five field goal attempts. These were only a few of the many mistakes made by the Eagles, who were dramatically upset by the Oakland Raiders.

As if the major loss wasn’t enough to solidify the dismal day, the Eagles also lost several players to injury, including solid starting OT Jason Peters. Peters exited the action early in the contest after hurting his leg while attempting to hold off a pair of Raider defenders. He entered the team locker room and eventually underwent some X-ray tests, which proved to be negative, meaning his injury isn’t too serious. Nevertheless, his presence was missed on the o-line, which featured backups like King Dunlap and Nick Cole by the conclusion of the matchup.

The Week 6 game, which kicked off at 4:15 p.m. ET in Oakland, began with little success from both teams in regards to offensive production. Shane Lechler for the Raiders and Sav Rocca for the Eagles were the early game stars, each booting the ball on punts frequently. After finding a seam in the Black and Silver secondary later in the first quarter, the Birds were able to drive the ball down the field, but were held to a field goal attempt as the Raider defense stepped up. David Akers connected on a 45-yard try after disappointingly missing an earlier attempt (that later proved to be costly), and this gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead.

The Raiders struck back with a huge score shortly after the Eagles’ converted field goal, completing an 86-yard touchdown pass from QB JaMarcus Russell to TE Zach Miller. During this amazing play and momentum builder for an Oakland fan base that had suffered through a horrid 1-4 season since the start of today’s game, the Raiders executed excellent blocking and exploited the weaknesses of Eagles’ MLB Jeremiah Trotter, who seemed to be lagging behind many of his coverage targets (on this play Trotter’s “man” happened to be Miller, hence the long and successful completion). With this exciting highlight (for the Raiders’ fans), Oakland snatched the lead from Philly and became a 7-3 front runner in the game.

In the beginning of the second quarter, after shutting down Donovan McNabb and the Eagles’ offense, the Raiders extended their lead with a short 29-yard field goal by K Sebastian Janikowski. With this, the Raiders now took a surprising 7-point lead, and continued to contain the typically explosive Eagles’ offense. DE Richard Seymour was able to reach McNabb for a sack, and barring a penalty in the defensive backfield, the Raiders would have also had an interception returned for a TD. To stay in contention, the Eagles minimized Oakland’s lead with a 43-yard field goal by David Akers close to halftime.

Clearly stunned by the productivity of the Raiders at halftime, the Eagles resumed the 3rd quarter with a jolt of momentum, breaking off several decent yardage gains with both runs and passes. However, the offensive line faltered again, allowing the Raiders to pressure Donovan McNabb on a regular basis, resulting in incomplete, inaccurate passes and nagging sacks. This dominant defensive play by Oakland continued throughout the entire 3rd period, as the Birds were kept out of field goal range, let alone the endzone. Despite the great play of the Black and Silver’s defensive unit, the defense of Philadelphia was also quite sharp, keeping starting RB Michael Bush under wraps, as well as intercepting JaMarcus Russell for a second time.

In the fourth and final quarter of the Week 6 showdown, the running game of Oakland broke free, and the Eagles’ offense stalled yet again. In an effort to pad their shocking lead, the Raiders drove down the field on several offensive series, scoring on one of them with another field goal, this one from 46 yards out. Towards the end of the game, the Eagles looked completely out of sync on all sides of the ball. The receivers dropped a few passes, the offensive line continued to struggle holding the aggressive Raider D, and the defensive unit as a whole did a poor job of recognizing play-action passes and stopping outside running calls that Oakland ran frequently in the final minutes of the contest. The final score of the game came in the form of a sloppy 45-yard field goal made by the Eagles, which proved to be pointless at the conclusion, as they weren’t able to add any additional points to capture the victory that so many predicted them to get.

With their second loss of the season, the Eagles now prepare to face a member of their division in the Washington Redskins. This matchup will take place back at home for the Eagles, in Lincoln Financial Field, and will be played on Monday night at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET.. Further analysis and evaluation of today’s game will be released throughout the week, but for now, take a look at the Eagles’ statistical leaders from the matchup, some of their key players (although there disappointingly weren’t many today), a scoring summary of the contest, and a look at some interesting things that you may have missed while viewing the game:

Statistical Leaders

Passing: Donovan McNabb (QB): 22-46, 269 yards

Rushing: Brian Westbrook (RB): 6-50 yards

Receiving: Brian Westbrook (RB): 9-91 yards

Receiving (cont.): DeSean Jackson (WR): 6-94 yards

Defensive: Chris Gocong (OLB): 10 tackles

Defensive (cont.): Omar Gaither (MLB): 6 tackles

Kicking: David Akers (K): 3-5 FG

Punting: Sav Rocca (P): 8-40 punt yard average

For a complete statistical breakdown of the game, click here.

Key Players

  • RB Brian Westbrook: One of the few bright spots in the Eagles’ offensive attack today, Westbrook was able to make the most out of his opportunities versus the Raiders. He was substituted with rookie runner LeSean McCoy often throughout the matchup, but still managed to make great contributions, leading the team with 9 receptions for 91 yards, and also rushing for 50 yards off of a mere 6 carries. In earlier games, the explosiveness of Westbrook was hard to find, as he was mostly contained to brief runs and small gains on catches. However, his ability was clearly shown this afternoon, and hopefully he’ll be able to continue this type of showing into future games.
  • WR DeSean Jackson: Jackson once again proved to be a valuable weapon in the offense, and if it weren’t for constant pressure on his QB, Donovan McNabb, the 2nd-year passing target may have cracked the 100-yard receiving mark for the third time this season. He notched 6 catches for 94 yards, and also manned the Punt Return duties, taking 4 kicks for a great average of 10 yards a run-back. It was almost a surprise Jackson didn’t see any running opportunities, as he is usually utilized in trick reverse plays as well. Nevertheless, he was definitely a “key player” on the Eagles, who didn’t have many successful performers today.
  • FS Macho Harris: Many may question the decision to include the rookie Harris as one of the few “key players”, but with a quietly awesome display of talent, this freshman starter continues to make a case as one of the better defenders on the team. Sure, he’s involved in plenty of mistakes and plays that should be routine, but he is only in his first NFL season, and looked very good today. His statistical slate (4 tackles, 1 pass defended) wasn’t overly impressive, but he was able to assist the secondary well in covering dangerous receivers such as Darrius Heyward-Bey. He also helped in forcing some loss-of-yardage plays against the Raiders while rushing the QB and pressuring the RB outside the field.

Did You Know…

  • …that CB Asante Samuel recorded his 4th interception of the year, which matched his regular season total for all of last regular season? Samuel has been a dominant force in the defensive backfield in his second season on the Eagles’ defense, and it appears he is on pace for a campaign similar to that of one he experienced while a member of the New England Patriots. The only negative factor that might be legitimate to be placed on Samuel are his tackling skills, which haven’t been that solid. However, his knack for finding the ball and allowing little success to his covered receivers makes up for it.
  • …that this is the second game in a row that starting RB Brian Westbrook has received only 6 carries? Despite his ability to contribute to the offense, head coach Andy Reid hasn’t incorporated a serious running attack the past few weeks, forcing QB Donovan McNabb to carry the offensive load. Next week against the Redskins, the Birds are expected to attempt to establish a solid rushing game in order to balance out the offensive attack that has been based primarily around passing thus far.
  • …that DE Trent Cole has now notched a sack in all of the games so far this season? He grabbed one in each of the first two matchups, then a half of one in Week 3 versus the Chiefs, and has now extended his sack streak with one today against the Raiders and their offensive line. Only in his 5th season in the league and with the Eagles, Cole has already racked up 38 career sacks, which ranks among several historical lists of the franchise. If he can continue his monstrous defensive play, there is no doubt that quite a few more sacks (as well as distinguished awards) are in the future of Trent Cole.

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter
FG D.Akers 45 yd. Field Goal Drive: 6 plays, 62 yards in 2:18
TD Z.Miller 86 yd. pass from J.Russell (S.Janikowski kick is good) Drive: 1 plays, 86 yards in 0:22
2nd Quarter
FG S.Janikowski 29 yd. Field Goal Drive: 12 plays, 76 yards in 6:58
FG D.Akers 43 yd. Field Goal Drive: 7 plays, 15 yards in 1:47
3rd Quarter
4th Quarter
FG S.Janikowski 46 yd. Field Goal Drive: 7 plays, 32 yards in 3:02
FG D.Akers 45 yd. Field Goal Drive: 5 plays, 42 yards in 1:43

(picture source)

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