It is a playbook we've seen before this season - the Eagles show a spurt of production, in this case, a game-opening 8-play, 67-yard touchdown drive and the defense followed up with a drive-ending interception, and just can't sustain the momentum. On Sunday in Las Vegas in front of a roaring and supportive Eagles road-trip crowd, quarterback Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders posted a 33-22 Raiders win that dropped Philadelphia to 2-5 on the season.
Carr was nearly perfect on Sunday, completing 16 straight passes at one point, spreading the football around. Las Vegas went 9 plays and 72 yards to tie the game at 7-7, then put together a 10-play, 96-yard drive that gave the Raiders the lead for good late in the second quarter. After a Kenny Gainwell fumble turned the ball back over to the Raiders, Carr turned the giveaway into three more points for a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Eagles tried to create a spark to open the third quarter, but Jake Elliott's onside kick was recovered by the Raiders and Las Vegas took possession at the Philadelphia 41-yard line. Six plays later, running back Kenyan Drake reached the end zone and the deficit was 24-7. A team that has been so up and down through seven games understands the urgency of straightening things out.
"Time is running out. We're at a point in the season where we're 2-5," said safety Rodney McLeod, one of the veterans who addressed the team in the locker room after the game. "Of course, we didn't want to be in this position but honestly time is running out and we have to make a stand and we have to make a push. It was just in my heart to say that and I know that at the end of the day we're going to come back and we're going to respond the way we should."
Carr completed 31 of 34 passes for 323 yards, two touchdowns, and the interception that ended the Raiders' first drive without one of his top targets, tight end Darren Waller. No matter. Reserve tight end Foster Moreau contributed 6 catches for 60 yards and the score. Las Vegas punted twice, the first one coming late in the third quarter, and gained 23 first downs, 442 total net yards, and scored four touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Eagles' offense struggled following the game-opening touchdown drive, one that was just marvelous. Sirianni had Hurts line up under center five times on the drive and dialed up the ground game five times, and the balanced worked. Finally, Hurts completed a throw underneath to Gainwell, who sped into the end zone for a 13-yard score and the Eagles were off to the kind of start they wanted.
It didn't last long, and that's what the team lamented following the road loss. On the three drives following the touchdown, the Eagles:
1. Lost running back Miles Sanders to an ankle injury.
2. Gave up a sack on a third-down play from the Las Vegas 42-yard line that killed momentum and the drive.
3. Turned over the ball on the Gainwell fumble. That early seven-point lead vanished before halftime.
"It's my job to go out there and execute and that's something I haven't done a good enough job of, clearly," quarterback Jalen Hurts said. "We're putting ourselves in position to do things and then kind of just messing it up and that's something we have to be better at - executing. We believe in ourselves, we believe in our coaches, we believe in everything we have going on in Philadelphia. It's just a matter of putting it together and executing and that's something we've yet to do on a consistent basis. Really, consistency wins in this league. That's what we're all striving for."
Hurts completed 18 of 34 passes for 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He gained 61 yards on 13 rushing attempts as well. But Hurts was just 5-for-10 for 62 yards in the first half, and in the third quarter the offense failed on a third-and-goal play from the 1-yard line when Jason Kelce's snap to Hurts in the shotgun hit right guard Jack Driscoll's hand as he was pulling, and Las Vegas pounced on the loose ball, killing the Eagles' scoring opportunity. Even with Lane Johnson in the lineup at right tackle and Jordan Mailata back at his familiar left tackle spot, the offensive line had trouble working against an aggressive Raiders front four.
The second-year quarterback accepted responsibility for the offense's performance and for the turnover in the red zone, saying the snap "hit my hands, and I didn't secure the ball."
"Anytime you lose like that, everybody's got to look at themselves in the mirror," Sirianni said. "It just wasn't good enough execution. It wasn't good enough playcalling on both sides of the ball. We just weren't good enough and that starts with me. Everything is always going to start with me. I just wasn't good enough and everybody else followed suit."