Eagles Notebook: Stafford to Scheffler was a back-breaker

Posted: October 15, 2012

THE PLAY THAT really brought the Detroit Lions back to life, four snaps after Jeremy Maclin gave the Eagles a 23-13 lead, was a 57-yard Matthew Stafford pass to tight end Tony Scheffler.

"I think it was just an extended play," said dime corner Brandon Hughes, who was covering Scheffler. "[Stafford] just got outside the pocket, and Scheffler was running 'seam.' I was just chasing him. He just ran at an angle [after the called play broke down]. I just tried to haul ass and catch him. Couldn't catch him.

"Initially, it was good coverage. I guess when the play was extended, he just ran at an angle where it's difficult to chase the guy down. [Stafford] just threw it out there as far as he could. I didn't think [Scheffler] was going to get it, at first, by the way he was running, but he made the catch."

Bye, Bye?

Andy Reid hasn't held a bye-week practice in his 13 seasons with the Eagles before this one, and it's hard to argue with Reid's 13-0 record coming out of the bye. But a few veterans said they expected something beyond Monday's usual film study this week. They even seemed to think a little work might be necessary.

The collective bargaining agreement says the players have to have 4 days off in a row, including Saturday. If Saturday could be the third of four, the fourth being Sunday, it would seem the Eagles could practice Tuesday and probably Wednesday, not that they will.

"This is going to be sour for a while . . . We've got some things to get right," right tackle Todd Herremans said. "As far as I know, we've got a couple of workdays this week."

"After something like this, you want to get back on the field ASAP," said safety Nate Allen, who won't be practicing if the Eagles do convene this week, after leaving with a hamstring pull in the fourth quarter Sunday. "It is what it is. We've got a bye week. We've just got to rest up and learn from this, and ."

Nothing ventured . . .

The Eagles led the league in one thing entering their game with the Lions: Fair catches.

No team had to return more punts than the Eagles' 12.

Not coincidentally, no team averaged fewer yards per return than the Eagles' 5.5.

That return stat got rookie Damaris Johnson benched Sunday. His replacement, Mardy Gilyard, continued Johnson's trend: three fair catches, two returns, and an average of 7.5 yards per runback . . . which would put the Eagles 20th.

First, he did no harm.

"I made all smart decisions with the ball. A positive on my end was I managed the game the best I could. No muffed balls," Gilyard said.

The Lions netted 41 yards on their seven punts (DeSean Jackson fielded one of them and Gilyard let a short one drop untouched), and the Eagles' average starting field position was just short of the 26. If Gilyard gets another chance, maybe he will be more adventurous.

"Every returner wants the big return. But the elite ones, they pick and choose to do what they want to do. It takes time. It takes experience," he said. "All in all, it was a good day."

Chesty

The Eagles entered Sunday's game ranked 28th in defending other team's kickoff returns, allowing 30.3 yards per return, in part because no team had fewer than the Eagles' five kickoff touchbacks after the season's first 5 weeks. Kicker Alex Henery sought to do something about that.

This past week, Henery altered his position at impact: "I worked on a few things this past week. I got my chest up, so I could get more into it. Follow through more. Get more power on it."

The result: Four touchbacks and a 13.0 average yards allowed.

Birdseed

Safety Nate Allen said he tried to play briefly with the hamstring pull he suffered in the fourth quarter. Afterward, Allen second-guessed himself for not coming out right away, but his absence put special-teams ace Colt Anderson in at safety; Anderson rarely plays in the defense. Anderson took a pass interference penalty in the end zone. Allen said he hopes to get a prognosis Monday . . . The Eagles' run-stopping suffered after Fletcher Cox was ejected for throwing a punch at the bottom of a pile on an extra-point kick by the Lions in the fourth quarter . . . Detroit became the second straight Birds opponent to run for more than 120 yards, totaling 138 on 28 carries, 4.9 yards a pop . . . "This could be a game that might come back to haunt us late in the year," LeSean McCoy said.

Daily News columnist Marcus Hayes contributed to this report.


Contact Les Bowen at bowenl@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LesBowen.

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