PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles were favored to get the job done on Sunday afternoon against the New Orleans Saints, but instead suffered one of its worst performances of the 2022-23 NFL season.
Nick Sirianni’s men fell to 13-3 on the season after a 20-10 regular season loss to the Saints at Lincoln Financial Field, missing out on the opportunity to clinch the NFC East title and the No. 1 seed in the conference. Jalen Hurts did not dress for the Eagles, while second-string quarterback Gardner Minshew endured a tough day under center, being sacked six times by the Saints defense.
Despite the Eagles best efforts in the second half to turn things around, Marshon Lattimore’s pick-six on Minshew truly iced the victory for the Saints.
“We played terrible. That’s that,” Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith said postmatch. “We didn’t execute. We didn’t go out there and do the things we’re supposed to do. Had small penalties that set us back. Just played bad.”
“We just couldn’t get rolling,” Minshew said. “It is one of those things that you try and get that first, first down and we kept shooting ourselves in the foot and getting in our own way. They are a good defense, too. There is not much room for error when you play a team like that. We didn’t do enough to win.”
The Eagles went into halftime down 13-0 after Taysom Hill’s first quarter touchdown run and a pair of Will Lutz field goals in the second half. Eagles tailback Miles Sanders only rushed for nine yards in the opening quarter, while Minshew could not connect with his wide receivers as the Saints frustrated the hosts for most of the opening 30 minutes.
Philadelphia started to turn the screw in the third quarter after Jake Elliott’s 56-yard field goal cut their deficit to 13-3. Minshew’s connection with A.J. Brown for a 78-yard pass and run made it 13-10 and gave the Eagles some life heading into the fourth quarter.
However, Lattimore’s 12-yard INT return after jumping Brown’s slant route padded the Saints lead and condemned the Eagles to a second-straight blown opportunity in recent weeks.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 1, 2023
“We ran that same play earlier and it was the same coverage and they made a great adjustment to jump the route,” Minshew said about the interception. “I should have seen that leverage when we made the motion. I assumed since it was the same coverage, [Lattimore] was going to play it the same, but he made a great adjustment and made the play to beat us.”
In addition to sloppy play, the Eagles were called for eight penalties in the game, including a key holding call on Landon Dickerson which negated a Kenneth Gainwellt touchdown run. The Eagles also only completed three of their 12 third-down opportunities, and also failed to convert on both of their chances on fourth down.
A failure to defeat the six-win Saints means the Eagles will have to defeat the New York Giants in Week 18 to capture the division title and lock up the No. 1 seed. Hurts’ status remains unknown for the regular-season finale, with the team aiming to have their third-year quarterback fully healthy going into the postseason.
The Eagles do know they control their own destiny and believe in their abilities to get the job done in front of their home fans on Jan. 8
“Don’t panic,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said when asked about the team can do differently. “Don’t start doing stuff that’s uncharacteristic. Come in with a great mentality, don’t talk about anybody because we all have our fair share of mistakes that we made and that we can learn from. We’re all just out here trying to figure it out.
“We need to take care of business,” Graham added. “We’ve been here before. We know how to get ourselves back and get ready for the next game. It’s disappointing now, but we have work to do. We know that and we’ll be there when it’s time.”