The Eagles Are No Lock

I happen to know a lot of people who are fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, and for most of this year, and an awful lot of last season as well, they’ve had ample reason to cheer.  Until recently, save for a one-time aberration against the Jets, they’ve been among the NFL elite, their offense especially so.  And if you’ve ever seen the Tush Push, or as it’s now more mundanely referenced, the “Brotherly Shove”, you know the word offensive has multiple meanings.

Well, that was then, and this is now.  In the first flexed Monday Night match-up of the season where a battle of teams who have birds as their mascots and who usually wear green, it was the underdog Seattle Seahawks that came out triumphant, allowing their season to continue to be relevant and further exposing the cracks in the Eagles’ armor that now calls into question whether or not they have the mettle and health to return to the Super Bowl they narrowly lost this past February.

And in the process, in the December cold and rain that is all too Seattle-like, the Seahawks got needed helo from a true 12th man, one who wasn’t even assured he was going to start the game until mere minutes before kickoff.  And as THE ATHLETIC’s Michael-Shawn Dugar and Brooks Kubena wrote, it was a feel-good a story as we’ve seen anywhere in the league, and perhaps in all sports:

Drew Lock has officially entered Seattle Seahawks lore.

His 29-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba with 28 seconds remaining helped defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 20-17 on “Monday Night Football” and keep Seattle’s postseason hopes alive. The picture-perfect pass was the culmination of a 10-play, 92-yard drive.

Lock was named the starting quarterback after Geno Smith was unable to play with a groin injury. Lock, 27, finished 22-for-33 passing for 208 yards and the game-winning score.

“I’ll remember that play call for the rest of my life,” Lock said on the ESPN broadcast after the game. It’s so hard to describe the feeling of not playing for so long, or at least what feels like a really long time to me. And then you sit there and you watch games, you wonder, ‘Can I do this still?’ I haven’t been out there on the field. That’s the human nature of it,” an emotional Lock said. “You get back out there last week, and I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m the man still. I can go do this.’ … It feels so good. I’m so proud of everybody.”

Asked when he learned he would start, Lock said it was a “long story,” adding: “I kept the mentality that I was going to play. … So just be ready to play.”

It’s intriguing to remember that Lock was thrown into the deal with the Denver Broncos that sent Seahawks legend Russell Wilson to Denver after the 2021 season, and indeed Lock couldn’t beat out the once-struggling veteran Smith for the starting job last year.  When Smith responded with a Comeback Player of the Year-worthy season that was leaps and bounds better than how Wilson performed as a Bronco, he was the toast of the Pacific Northwest.  But when opportunity beckoned, Lock more than took advantage of it.

And in the opposing nest, opportunity may be flying away from the Iggles.  As THE ATHLETIC’s morning blog author Chris Branch reminded:

Once-mighty Philadelphia has now lost three straight in crunch time, slipping to 10-4. Six weeks ago, this team looked Super Bowl-bound. Now, any shot at the No. 1 seed is slipping away — if the playoffs started right now, NFC No. 5 Philly would play on the road against the 7-7 Bucs. The offense looked lethargic, the defense failed in important spots (more on that in a second) and the vibes are just bad around this crew.

And as Dugar and Kubena expounded, it was the play of Lock’s compromised counterpart that was as much of a reason for that:

Seahawks safety Julian Love’s leaping interception of Jalen Hurts on the sideline with six seconds left ensured Seattle would end a four-game skid. 

Hurts, who battled an illness this week and nearly missed the matchup, was 17-of-31 passing for 143 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He had 82 yards rushing and two scores on the ground.

Philadelphia is now 0-8 (including playoffs) against Pete Carroll’s Seahawks and 0-4 in Seattle.

In a week where Dallas was outright embarassed by Buffalo, there is still good reason for the Eagles to have some hope of winning at least their division and perhaps a better seed.  But unlike last January, the 49ers, especially Brock Purdy, are healthy, and are far and away the class of the NFC, if not the NFL as a whole.  Hurts needs to get healthy, and the Eagles will need to try and forget how their wings were clipped by an even angrier and more determined bird last night.

Otherwise, they may be feeling pain in their respective tushes not just from their offensive strategies, but from frustrated fans.

Courage…

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