Postgame Perspective: Eagles flaws apparent again in rout by Cardinals

Mathematically and technically, it's not over. But it sure feels that way.

After watching the Redskins cruise to victory against Buffalo, after watching the Cardinals put a beating reminiscent to the three-game losing streak that was snapped by a win in New England — a win that will now look more like a fluke than a statement.

The Eagles had the driver's seat and drove it straight off a cliff.

Sunday's 40-17 loss just affirmed what the Eagles showed against Miami, against Tampa Bay, against Detroit. This team is miles away from truly competing.

There were so many glaring issues with this game, but there were three clear turning points in the game.

The first was a game-long trend that was no clearer than on a 47-yard touchdown run for David Johnson, a rookie running back who schooled the Eagles running trio of Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and DeMarco Murray. The Eagles appeared to have Johnson bottled up after a gain of about five or six yards. Johnson just kept moving, never went down and powered right on through the weak tackling.

It was a horrendous tackling game for the Eagles. That's a flaw regardless of the players they were without — Eric Rowe left the game early and Byron Maxwell missed most of the second half, leaving the Eagles with a decimated secondary. David Johnson rushed for 187 yards. The Cardinals as a team gained 230 yards on the ground. 

The second was a decision by Chip Kelly to go for it on 4th and inches from the Arizona 8-yard line. There is nothing wrong with taking a gamble. In that spot, extending the drive likely leads to a game-tying touchdown and sets the Eagles up for a chance to take the lead at the start of the second half.

But if you're going to make the gamble, you better deliver on it. Kelly's play did not work, as Ryan Mathews was stopped short, and the Cardinals took over. That turnover on downs took the momentum that a game-tying touchdown, or even points on a field goal, would have. The Cardinals rode that all the way through the second half.

Finally, the two turnovers in the second half put the nail in the coffin for good.

Down by 13, the Eagles were one touchdown away from getting the game back to within a score and the defense, poor tackling and all, had actually started the third quarter out strong.

The Eagles had several near-misses earlier on the drive, narrowly escaping a safety with Sam Bradford diving two yards out of the endzone on a sack and converting on a pair of third-down plays. 

After 10 plays and 55 yards gained, moving them near midfield, the Eagles failed to block on the 11th and Bradford was sacked and fumbled. Turnover.

The Cardinals actually gave the Eagles a second chance. A quick three-and-out kept the margin at 13 and again, the Eagles gained 28 yards on three plays to start moving to midfield again with a similar rhythm. The fourth play: Ryan Mathews takes the ball, gains four, then fumbles. Turnover.

The game was essentially over with John Brown's touchdown catch from Carson Palmer on the ensuing Cardinals drive. However, if the Eagles get the long touchdown — Bradford hit Jordan Matthews for a 78-yard score early in the fourth quarter — before Bradford's interception to Deone Bucannon, returned for a touchdown, maybe it's a little bit of a different game.

That touchdown was a classic garbage-time score. The Cardinals were on cruise control by then.

It's unfortunate to say, since two weeks ago, it felt so good to enjoy a win over the Patriots. But when you consider who the Eagles had to deal with, or not deal with, in that game as compared to a team running on all cylinders with every cog in the lineup, it's no fluke, and says otherwise about a win in New England where so many key components were not present.

So while it may all come down to the Eagles facing the Redskins on Saturday, and a win would keep the Eagles playoff hopes alive, consider this. The Redskins were the best NFC East team on Sunday. The Eagles, who folded easily to the Cardinals, will only get a similarly-constructed opponent like Seattle in the playoffs if they were to win the division, which might just make a mockery of the team in its current state again.

So save your division title. The Eagles don't need another example of how far away they are from truly competing by being the least bad of the awful teams in the worst division in the NFL.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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