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Matt Rourke / Associate Press
The Philadelphia Eagles led the Los Angeles Chargers at halftime on Sunday. They were still leading after the third quarter. After falling behind in the fourth, they had an impressive equalizer touchdown. However, they still couldn’t secure their first home win of the season, losing 27-24.
This means the Eagles are now 0-4 at Lincoln Financial Field in 2021. Dustin Hopkins kicked a 29-yard field goal with two seconds left to bring Philadelphia down to 3-6.
With 6:07 left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles tied the game at 24 on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Hurts to DeVonta Smith. But the Philadelphia defense couldn’t get the late save they needed, as Los Angeles amassed 64 yards in 15 plays on their winning record.
Here are three takeaways from the Eagles’ loss in Week 9.
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Rich Schultz / Associated press
In Week 8, the Eagles’ defensive front had their best performance of the season, recording six sacks and 12 quarterback hits in a 44-6 win over the Detroit Lions. On Sunday, Philadelphia’s pass rush was nowhere near as effective.
The Eagles struggled to reach Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, failing to register a sack and only making one hit from the quarterback. This allowed Herbert to have an efficient performance, completing 32 of his 38 passing attempts and racking up 356 yards in the air and three total touchdowns (two passes, one rushing).
“Every week is different,” Philadelphia defensive tackle Javon Hargrave said, per Athletic’s Zach Berman. “I think this week [the Chargers] came out the ball so fast. … They chipped more than usual. The balloon came out faster than expected. Hurry up stuff and little things. “
But it’s a recurring problem for the Eagles. Their defensive success depends heavily on their ability to generate pressure. And they especially struggled to do so. Prior to Week 8’s win in Detroit, Philadelphia had recorded 11 sacks in its first seven games, and six of those were from Hargrave.
The Eagles need to find ways to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, especially when facing teams with as much offensive talent as the Chargers. Otherwise, top flaggers like Herbert will benefit as he did on Sunday.
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Matt Slocum / Associated press
If there are any Eagles fans who have worried about Smith’s lack of production in recent weeks, the rookie receiver’s performance on Sunday was welcome.
Smith made five catches for a high of 116 yards, scoring his second 100-yard game of the season and his first since Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs. He also scored his first touchdown since Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons. And not only that, but his touchdown hold tied the game at the end of the fourth quarter.
Although Smith has only had eight catches total in Philadelphia’s previous three games – and he hasn’t had more than 61 yards in any of those contests – he still leads the team in receiving with 38 receptions for 537. yards in nine games. He had a close bond with Hurts since their days together in Alabama, and now they’re both improving together at the NFL level.
“As an offense, that’s what you train for, day in and day out,” Smith said, by Dave spadaro from the official team website. “Just be together to improve. The more you do it, the more you attack it each day, the attack gets better and the team gets better.”
Smith’s improvement shouldn’t come as a surprise given his talent and skill, and he’s likely to continue posting big numbers for the remainder of the regular season.
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Matt Slocum / Associated press
It’s hard to come out of a loss with optimism, but there are reasons the Eagles will be positive after Sunday. The Chargers are a strong team and are tied for top AFC West at 5-3. Still, that game resulted in Philadelphia’s closest loss of its six losses.
Eagles fans still haven’t been able to celebrate a home win in Nick Sirianni’s first year as head coach. And although they almost did it on Sunday, Sirianni knows his team can’t feel too good about this performance because of the result.
“I see growth in this football team. I think we all see it. But we have to keep growing,” Sirianni said, per Berman. “There are no moral victories in this league, are there? A loss is a loss and a loss is a loss. This one hurts, and we have to recover from it and get out of it. “
The Eagles have plenty of opportunities for later wins. The five games they play in Weeks 12-17 are against teams with record losses.
However, Philadelphia could be challenged over the next two weeks, with a road clash against the Denver Broncos (5-4) and a home game against the New Orleans Saints (5-3) on the schedule. But winning at least one of those contests could set the Eagles up for a .500 run and a tangible sign of progress.