(973espn.com) - After the way the Eagles started Sunday in New Orleans, only one thing was going to stop them and it really had nothing to do with Sean Payton, Drew Brees or the rest of the New Orleans Saints.

Up 14-0 after their first two offensive possessions, Philadelphia was done in by an injury bug that has affected the team all season long.

Ultimately Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks, All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and starting right cornerback Rasul Douglas were all forced from the game before the midway point of the second quarter, although Cox and Douglas were able to return.

Brooks suffered the most serious injury during what turned out to be a 20-14 setback, a torn right Achilles', an injury that could sideline the star offensive lineman into the 2019 season. He was replaced by veteran Stefen Wisniewski.

Cox, meanwhile, injured his foot on the play that arguably changed the game.

Down by two touchdowns and facing a 4th-and-1 play at their own 30-yard line, New Orleans lined up to punt but went with a direct snap to Swiss-Army Knife Taysom Hill, who picked up the first down with a 4-yard run up the middle in which Cox hurt himself trying to defend.

New Orleans went on to score on the drive when Drew Brees converted a fourth down play by hooking up with Temple product Keith Kirkwood, who bested the recently signed Josh Hawkins, playing with Douglas sidelined due to an ankle injury. Hawkins has been in Philadelphia just over a month, signed to the practice squad on Dec. 11 and elevated to the active roster two weeks later.

Cox fought through the pain and returned right before halftime but was in and out in the second half while Douglas did return to play the second half and acquitted himself well.

Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, whose dropped pass late turned into the Marshon Lattimore interception which sealed the game for the Saints, left the game at one point in the second quarter with an unknown injury although right tackle Lane Johnson confirmed Jeffery has been playing with broken ribs.

Left tackle Jason Peters also was forced to leave in the fourth quarter with a back injury and was replaced by Halapoulivaati Vaitai. while left corner Avonte Maddox also checked out for a slight period when Brees took advantage by finding Michael Thomas for a huge conversion with Hawkins in coverage.

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen


More From 97.3 ESPN