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Sirianni Explains Eagles’ Embarrassing Collapse vs. Cardinals and Loss of Control of NFC East: No Need for Worry or Concern

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PHILADELPHIA – In what many are billing as one of the Philadelphia Eagles’ all-time most embarrassing losses, they suffered in NFL Week 17 a 35-31 loss to a poor Arizona Cardinals team, and in the process, lost a chance at the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed, likely lost a chance to win the NFC East, fell to 1-4 in their last five, and have their head coach talking in the postgame about “going back to the drawing board.”

Oh, and insisting, in a way, that overreaction is inappropriate.

“Concerns? No,” coach Nick Sirianni said. “I don’t think we think that’s the way … It’s, ‘How do we get these things fixed?’ Worry and concern doesn’t get any problems fixed …

“That’s what gets things fixed. ‘Worrying’ and ‘concern’ does not.”

OK. But the Philadelphia Eagles – who in a sense just handed the NFC East title to the Dallas Cowboys, assuming their bitter enemies win next week at Washington, should be just a bit …

Concerned. And worried.

In his return to Philadelphia, Arizona coach Jonathan Gannon and his team went into the halftime locker room down 21-6. A pair of touchdown receptions from future Hall of Famer Julio Jones and a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown by rookie safety Sydney Brown helped the Eagles to overcome having their defense on the field for more than two-thirds of the first half.

The Cardinals finally turned a long drive into a touchdown to open the third quarter, with a 10-play, 75-yard drive ending with quarterback Kyler Murray connecting with running back Michael Carter for a six-yard touchdown.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts was unable to connect with an open DeVonta Smith on a deep ball on the Eagles first drive of the second half, which lasted just three plays and took only 1:38 off the clock.

Compare that to what turned out to be the game-tying drive for the Cardinals, a nine-play 77-yard drive which ended with Murray connecting with running back James Conner for an excellent five-yard touchdown pass. Edge rusher Josh Sweat nearly brought down Murray for a sack, but the elusive quarterback evaded him, reset and threw a perfect pass to Conner, who made a tremendous one-yard catch.

To make matters worse for the Eagles, Murray hooked up with receiver Michael Wilson for a successful two-point conversion, pulling the score even at 21-21.

Luckily for the Eagles, they were able to put together a 13-play, 75-yard drive to retake the lead early in the fourth quarter, with Hurts finding tight end Dallas Goedert wide open in the end zone thanks to a successful pick play.

Matt Patricia’s defense had a chance to perhaps put the game on ice on a fourth-and-four by the Cardinals deep in Eagles territory. Instead, Murray found Wilson for a five-yard touchdown, with a Prater extra point again tying the game.

Philadelphia retook the lead on a 43-yard field goal by Jake Elliott, with just over two minutes remaining, but it came after a frustrating drive from Brian Johnson’s offense. Setting for the go-ahead field goal came after a pair of unsuccessful designed quarterback runs for Hurts, followed by a screen pass to running back Kenneth Gainwell on third down that went for just four yards and elicited boos from the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Cardinals didn’t have to settle for a field goal on their late-fourth quarter drive, with a seven-play, 70-yard drive getting capped off by a Conner rushing touchdown. Receiver Greg Dortch — really, more of a kicker returner than a pass catcher typically — had the big gain on the drive in the form of a 36-yard catch. It can be argued that the Eagles made a mistake tackling Dortch rather than letting him score late in the fourth, but that was really the culmination of a disastrous afternoon.

Hurts threw a Hail Mary as time expired in the fourth quarter, but his prayer went unanswered.

Outside of losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles really haven’t had any laughers this season. In some senses, that’s to be expected — it was never going to be easy to beat the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. But multiple wins against the lowly Washington Commanders turned into nail biters, as did last week’s victory over the Giants. And eventually, you go to the well one too many times, and a close game late — particularly against a team you should blow out — doesn’t come up in your favor.

With the loss, the Eagles no longer control their own destiny in the NFC East, as the Cowboys will win the NFC East if they defeat the Commanders in Week 18. The Eagles will need a victory against the Giants in Week 18 and a Cowboys loss to win the NFC East. If not, they’ll be a Wild Card representative and head on the road in the playoffs.

The final game during the calendar year of 2023 for the Eagles had all-too-familiar themes. And as boos reigned down at Lincoln Financial Field, you were left to wonder if the Eagles will play a home game again before next fall.

And yes. That is a worry. That is a concern.

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