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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
It hurts to say it yet again, but this was a winnable game for the Eagles.
For the second week in a row, the Eagles faced one of the league’s most elite teams.
For the second week in a row, the Eagles played that opponent down to the wire.
For the second week in a row, it came down to a handful of plays that all went in the opposite direction that decided the game and the Eagles needed just one of those things to win the game.
In this game, John Hightower dropped a pass that hit both his hands, went over half the field and was probably a touchdown on the first drive. Miles Sanders watched as a pass bounced off both his hands in the endzone to give up more points. Travis Fulgham had a hail mary pass fall incomplete in the endzone on the final timed play of the first half when a defender ripped on his helmet and it wasn’t called. Jake Elliott missed yet another critical field goal, this time to end the first half. In a game decided by just two points, the Eagles lost between 17 and 21 points on these plays (the Fulgham touchdown would have meant no field-goal try).
Still, this young squad figures, in the coming weeks, to get veterans back at some key positions that are struggling to bump their talent level back up; a team that can already hang with the 49ers, Steelers and Ravens getting the type of talent back that the Eagles currently have on their injury lists should be dangerous.
Buy: Carson Wentz
Wentz had a fumble when he got tackled in the open field by two defenders, but he was on fire. He completed just 21 of his 40 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns. Wentz suffered through dropped passes by Hightower, Sanders and an uncalled pass interference (or unsportsman like conduct) on Fulgham that would have brought his totals to around 320 yards and three touchdowns without any yards after the catch. Not only did he throw this team back into the game despite the game being called a loss by everyone else in the third quarter, but his legs added an additional 49 yards and a touchdown on five rushes. Wentz was an MVP player on the field this Sunday and if he had more than one player on the offense with him, he would have beaten another of the leagues top teams. All this despite being pressured on 51%(!) of his dropbacks.
Sell: John Hightower
More routes run in this game and very little to show for it. To be fair, Hightower did have a pass interference in the endzone go uncalled against him and did make a 50-yard grab, but the Eagles could have won the game and had momentum in the first half if he didn’t drop a 50+-yard bomb and likely touchdown that hit both his hands on a 3rd and 22 on the first drive of the game. Not only that, but on the 50-yard grab he did make, he turned around after he secured the ball (he turned back to his right to make the catch and then turned 27 degrees back to run sideways) and lost all his speed and separation, allowing the defender to make the tackle instead of just turning up the field and running. Hightower has gotten consistent separation, but still shows a lack of ability to catch the ball routinely and managed to get caught almost immediately instead of running down the field.
Buy: Josh Sweat
Sweat, in more limited snaps, registered five tackles (three for loss) and a pass deflection in this game, but also gained quite a few pressures on Jackson that do not appear on the scoresheet and, at times, showed greater speed than JK Dobbins by changing directions and still beating the running back to the outside.
Sell: Jamon Brown
Eagles fans found out that Jamon Brown was available mid-season not because of cap restrictions, but because he is not very good at football. Brown was routinely beat and allowed plenty of sacks and pressures, including a sack on the first play of the game. He also managed to get a false start called on him. He said this week that he would have to rely on his experience this week, but is certainly seemed like he had none and it is honestly questionable why Sua Opeta is even on the roster if he isn’t an upgrade over Brown.
Buy: Brandon Graham
Six tackles and two sacks to go with a QB hit was a big performance from Graham, who often managed to pressure Lamar Jackson, forced a holding call and managed to do an excellent job of also containing Jackson as he was crashing in – something not many ends are able to successfully do.
Sell: Jake Elliott
For the second straight week, Elliott missed a critical field goal, one that could have won the Eagles the game against Baltimore. There were some reports that the Eagles brought in a kicker for a workout this week, which makes sense considering Elliott seems to think he needs to kick at the right pillar of the field goal markers and subsequently miss instead of kicking straight. The Eagles only went for two in this one, even when that didn’t make sense, so it might be that the team doesn’t even trust him for those kicks. The cap-strapped Birds can’t get out of his deal until 2022 unless they also part with major names just to get rid of him.
The Eagles have a short week this week to prepare for the division-rival Giants. They figure to get DeSean Jackson back for the game and Jackson has had some of his best games against New York. They cannot get ahead of themselves, but they can feel good about beating the 49ers and then playing two more of the league’s top teams to the wire with an almost entirely second or third-string offense.