Eagles Stunned, Not Panicked After Loss
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – One look around the Philadelphia Eagles locker room and it was easy to see each player trying to absorb the sting of the 26-23 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans. Some players hurried to get dressed and get on the bus seeming to want to be anywhere but still inside Nissan Stadium where the loss occurred. Others like veteran Defensive End Chris Long sat motionless at his locker just staring at it apparently stunned by what took place.
“It sucks,” Long stated. “You think you have them where you want them and we don’t play well enough to win. We have to get it fixed. We don’t know how to get it fixed right now because it’s Sunday at five o’clock, but I bet you we will know what we need to do in about 24 hours.”
“It’s frustrating to come up short, especially as an offense when you have chances,” Quarterback Carson Wentz shrugged. “We had chances to finish in the endzone at the end of the game and we just didn’t execute in the red zone the way we wanted to. We just didn’t finish as an offense and as a team either.”
Both sides of the ball had reason to be frustrated. The offense settled for too many Field Goals inside the Red Zone. Also, Quarterback Carson Wentz was under pressure virtually the entire game. He took a lot of hits and was sacked four times.
“They played good defense today,” Running Back Wendell Smallwood said. “They had a lot of schemes, and they got home a couple of times. I think we missed some details and some assignments. We can’t do that in this game, especially if we want to finish with a win.”
“Sometimes we were throwing hot and sometimes they were trying to disguise stuff and bringing different stuff,” Offensive Tackle Lane Johnson explained. “You try to make some adjustments to correct it. It’s tough, especially in this game. It came down to the end. I wish we could have scored there and put the nail in the coffin at the end, but, if if’s and but’s were candy and nuts we would all have a Merry Christmas.”
Defensively, the Eagles gave up way too many big plays down the field as well as key third and fourth down conversions that extended drives for the Titans. Tennessee converted a fourth-and-15 on the game-winning drive in overtime.
“We are going to figure out what we did wrong, but we know we let this one slip,” Defensive End Brandon Graham said. “We are a fighting team. We just can’t beat ourselves. We wish we could have it back. A couple of times, especially that fourth and 15, nine times out of ten we make the play.”
“I’m not going to play to not lose, we play to win,” Safety Malcolm Jenkins explained. “This one hurts, we feel like we gave it away. Nobody enjoys losing, but I love winning way more than I hate losing.”
Losses like this one, in hindsight, can prove to be a critical turning point in a season. On one hand, the pain and sting from this could bring the team together. It could also fracture what has been a very strong foundation in this locker room.
“I think the talent we have keeps it from snowballing,” Tight End Zach Ertz stated. “The mindset we have in this locker room keeps it from snowballing. We’re a bunch of guys who have a very workman-like attitude each day we come into the building. We’re not going to let one win or one loss affect our season.”
“Luckily it wasn’t a playoff game,” Graham shrugged. “It’s the fourth game so we’ve got 12 more. We got to just make sure that we keep going and don’t give up. We’re 2-2 and 14-2 is still in our grasp, and that’s what we want to do.”
Head Coach Doug Pederson was the steady force who kept the team grounded through all their success a year ago and through their struggles in losses. That was a big key to their Super Bowl run. Pederson appears confident his team will rebound from the difficult loss next week when they host the Minnesota Vikings, “Those guys in there are sick to their stomachs. “This hurts; this stings. Losses like this sting, and this is something that we use as fuel for our emotion moving forward. We try to go 1-0 every week. That’s our main objective. It starts in practice when we come back together on Tuesday.”
As Super Bowl Champs, the Eagles have a big target on their backs and will continue to take every opponent’s best shot. That is expected to be the case once again on Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings return to Lincoln Financial Field for the first time since losing there in the NFC Championship Game in January.