Eagles Notebook: Eagles can't find momentum, or DeSean

Posted: September 24, 2012

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Without sore-hipped Jeremy Maclin, and with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg having apparently misplaced the pages in the playbook that had to do with LeSean McCoy running the ball, the Eagles didn't have much rhythm or consistency in Sunday's loss to the host Arizona Cardinals.

One guy who might have given them that was DeSean Jackson, but nobody was more effectively stymied by the Cards' aggressive defense. Jackson finished the day with three catches, on 10 targets, for just 43 yards. A lot of the "targets" were balls Michael Vick threw away, because he didn't think Jackson was open, or because Vick's protection had broken down. Or both.

"Today was one of them days, man, from the beginning of the game, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot," Jackson said.

If Jackson is going to be the player he yearns to be, he has to find ways to break out. Or Mornhinweg needs to find ways to break him out.

Undrafted rookie Damaris Johnson, playing in Maclin's spot, was the Eagles' leading receiver, with five catches (on 11 targets) for 84 yards. But Johnson's performance was undercut by a fumble on a punt return that led to the first Cardinals touchdown and a 10-0 lead.

"I just tried to make a play, I made a few cuts, the guy [Anthony Sherman] came from the back and made a really good play on the ball," Johnson said. "That was a big play in the game right there, I think it gave the Cardinals a little momentum."

Eagles middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans had a chance to take Johnson off the hook. The touchdown play was an 8-yard Kevin Kolb pass to rookie wideout Michael Floyd that bounced off Ryans' chest, hung in the air as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie collided with Ryans, then was plucked by Floyd for the TD.

"That was a gift. We had a chance there, and we didn't make those big plays, like we'd been doing," Ryans said, after the Eagles' defense failed to produce a turnover, for the first time this season. "I had my hands on it, I just batted it. The luck of the bounces. It went up in the air, got bobbled around, guy made a play on it."

Ryans said he did not think the Eagles came out flat.

"They had the momentum, and we never switched the momentum," he said. "That's something we've been doing in the past. We would make a play, make a turnover to combat that momentum. It didn't happen today. That was the difference."

Down and out?

The Cardinals seemed to get five downs in one second-quarter replacement-ref sequence that had Andy Reid baffled afterward.

First down was a 9-yard run. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Anthony Sherman was assessed after the play. Second down was a Darryl Tapp sack. The Cardinals were detected holding during the sack. The Eagles tried to decline the penalty, apparently were told they could not. So, instead of third-and-24, it was second-and-26. Cards QB Kevin Kolb threw incomplete. Third-and-26 from the Arizona 38 (but really fourth-and-24 from the 40, had the hold/sack been officiated correctly). A pass to Larry Fitzgerald (who else?) netted 22 yards, not quite a first down, not close enough for a field goal.

Had points resulted from this, it would have been way more than a footnote.

"I can't," Reid said, when asked to explain. "That one, I can't explain . . . I honestly don't have an answer for you . . . I just can't answer that question."

Birdseed

The Cards were missing safety Adrian Wilson and tight end Todd Heap, but in both cases, replacements stepped in and played well . . . James Sanders' 93-yard fumble return for a touchdown was the longest in Cardinals history . . . Rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox missed part of the game with a migraine, the Eagles said. Cox was credited with one assisted tackle . . . Linebacker Akeem Jordan left with a hamstring strain . . . Long-snapper Jon Dorenbos wasn't in Andy Reid's postgame report, but he seemed to suffer an ankle injury covering a kick; Dorenbos limped off in obvious pain . . . Asked about neglecting the run, Andy Reid said: "In hindsight, it would have been OK to run the ball a little more."

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