EXTRA POINTS: Sirianni, Eagles Come Up Short in Loss to 49ers
PHILADELPHIA - There's a statue outside Lincoln Financial Field that commemorates the most famous play in franchise history.
It depicts former coach Doug Pederson and former quarterback Nick Foles preparing to run "Philly Special," the legendary touchdown pass that former tight end Trey Burton threw to Foles during the Eagles' 41-33 victory over New England in Super Bowl LII.
New Eagles coach Nick Sirianni tried to run a version of it on Sunday.
Suffice it to say, they will not be erecting a statue about it.
His "Philly (No So) Special" failed miserably and played a major role in the their 17-11 loss to San Francisco.
Eagles fans had flocked to Lincoln Financial Field Sunday, excited just to be watching an NFL game in person again.
The team draped white t-shirts that read "Go Birds" over every seat, hoping to recreate a "white-out" scene like those shown at Penn State and BYU Saturday. The familiar "E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles" cheers were heard in every corner of the stadium.
Midway through the second quarter, they were screaming. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts launched a deep pass down the right sideline. Speedy wide receiver Quez Watkins grabbed it and raced downfield to the 49ers' 6-yard line. According to Next Gen Stats, Watkins reached a top speed of 21.62 miles per hour, which was approximately 10 miles an hour faster than my 2013 Hyundai Elantra traveled while crawling along Pattison Avenue on the way to the parking lot.
It was tied for the fifth-longest pass play in franchise history - Ron Jaworski and Mike Quick hold the record with a 99-yarder in 1985 against Atlanta - and was the longest since Michael Vick hit DeSean
Jackson for 91 yards at Dallas in 2010.
But the Eagles never reached the end zone, due in large part to Siranni's bone-headed call on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line.
Rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith took a handoff from Hurts and flipped the ball to wide receiver Greg Ward, a former college quarterback. Hurts tried to sneak into the end zone but was blanketed by a 49ers defense that was seemingly expecting it, forcing Ward to throw the ball into the first row of the stands.
Kudos to 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, the former Eagles linebacker.
The fans that were roaring just a few minutes earlier were in stunned silence. Those who were waving those white t-shirts earlier were stomping on them in anger and frustration.
"It's my fault," Sirianni said. "I didn't call good plays."
Sirianni had won over his share of fans with his enthusiastic demeanor and gained even more support after the Eagles' season-opening win at Atlanta.
Suddenly, the preseason over/under of 6.5 wins set by oddsmakers seemed like a cinch. There was talk of double-digit wins, a division title and perhaps even a deep playoff run.
Not so fast.
The Eagles may still wind up with a good season, but it's going to be challenging. They added injury to insult Sunday when reportedly lost veteran defensive end Brandon Graham for the rest of the season with a left Achilles tendon injury.
In addition, right guard Brandon Brooks sat out the entire second half with an unspecified chest injury.
"Those are 'OG' guys who put a lot into the team," Hurts said.
The onus is going to be on Sirianni to find a way to rebuild the team's confidence and overcome the injuries, not to mention fix the other problems.
Otherwise, fans will soon be crying into those towels.