The skies were gray and dreary in Baltimore on Sunday; they mirrored the Eagles’ playoff chances… and the offense… and the defense… and…
Okay, it wasn’t actually that bad. A largely inconsequential game for the Eagles, who are facing a three-game run of largely inconsequential games to finish their season once again, turned into a fairly exciting afternoon.
And then, as the Eagles have done all season long, they failed to make plays and pull out a win in the fourth quarter. The defense made key mistakes, and allowed touchdowns while the offense picked up field goals.
Then they lost, 27-26.
Carson Wentz drove the Eagles down the field on a nine-play, 59-yard drive in 1:35 and scrambled into the end zone to draw within one point with four seconds to play. Doug Pederson then chose to go for a two-point conversion and a win.
Wentz dropped back and tried a quick slant route to Jordan Matthews, but the ball was tipped at the line and it fell incomplete.
Quite an anticlimactic ending for a good game.
All afternoon, the offense ran the ball with a smile on its face, actually looked fairly solid between the 20s, as they have very often this season. Ryan Mathews ran strong, Byron Marshall had a few good plays in his NFL debut, and the offensive line — featuring the fifth right tackle of the year! — got push against a stout defensive line.
But Carson Wentz couldn’t find a rhythm through the air after he threw an interception on the first drive of the game, and no Eagles wideouts made a play (surprise there!) to reverse the course.
On top of a slow-moving offense, Jim Schwartz’s defense did the Eagles very few favors on Sunday. The run defense was walloped by a Ravens run game which, prior to Sunday, could hardly get its feet underneath it this season. The pass defense fared better, but couldn’t come up big in key spots, letting Joe Flacco make just enough important throws to keep the Eagles out of reach.
When Jordan Hicks intercepted Flacco in the fourth quarter and gave the Eagles a shot to draw within three points (they drew within seven) late in the game, Eagles fans knew the feeling. It has happened too many times this season. The Eagles can’t keep pace with a team early on, then stage a quasi-comeback and look, for a few minutes, as if they’re right in it, only to lose late.
At this point in the year, of course, all that matters is avoiding injuries which could impact next season. No injuries to key players like Carson Wentz, Jordan Matthews and Fletcher Cox means the game, while a loss, was ostensibly a success.
So, hey, keep your heads up, Eagles fans. The Birds lost, but they looked kind of okay doing it, and no one got hurt.
Moral victories just might exist after all. If they do, this certainly was one.