Arizona Cardinals beat Philadelphia Eagles 40-17
December 21 2015 10:58 PM

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (No 31) scorers a touchdown past the tackle attempt of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Kiko Alonso during the third quarter. PICTURE: USA TODAY Sports

 

By Zach Berman/The Philadelphia Inquirer


The video board at Lincoln Financial Field showed the Eagles and Redskins logos at the end of the Eagles’ 40-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, and that image was the lone glimmer of good news on a forgettable night in Philadelphia.
Any illusion that the Eagles could remain competitive with one of the best teams in the NFL was lost early in the second half on Sunday. The Eagles dropped to 6-8, ensuring that they will not have a winning season for the first time in Chip Kelly’s three seasons. But they could still make that playoffs, and that’s why the image previewing Saturday’s game against the Redskins was a reason for optimism.
The loss on Sunday was costly, but far from crippling. The Eagles still control their postseason hopes entering the final two games. They must beat Washington on Saturday to remain in contention. If they win both of their final two games, they’ll be the NFC East champions and have a home playoff date.
A win would have helped the Eagles in certain playoff scenarios and would have been symbolic by prolonging the winning streak and giving them another victory over a formidable foe. But the Eagles still needed to beat Washington this week — no scenario would have put them in without beating the Redskins.
The Eagles spoiled a pristine opportunity to keep pace with the Cardinals when they failed to convert fourth-and-1 from the 8-yard line while trailing by seven points with 50 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Kelly eschewed a field goal opportunity and kept his offense on the field, hoping to get one yard.
Kelly called a running play for Ryan Mathews, whose numbers in short-yardage situations pale compared to DeMarco Murray. The offensive line could not get any push, and Mathews was stuffed for no gain. The Eagles were left without any points on a key red-zone visit.
Arizona tallied 27 points before the Eagles scored again.
Sam Bradford finished 28 of 41 for 361 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Ryan Mathews led all rushers with 58 yards, but he also had a fumble. DeMarco Murray barely played and received only two carries. The top offensive performer was Jordan Matthews, who finished with eight catches for 159 yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals accumulated 493 total yards, including 187 rushing yards by rookie David Johnson. The game was almost even for much of the first half. Arizona tried going deep on the first play of the game, but John Brown dropped Palmer’s pass even though he had already passed the Eagles defense. The Cardinals rebounded by going 78 yards on eight plays instead of one play, with Johnson rushing for a 1-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles needed to settle for a field goal on their ensuing drive. It took 12 plays — one of them with Bradford on the sideline after injuring his upper-body — but it still netted points. The key play was Bradford finding Matthews for 30 yards to go from Eagles territory to Cardinals territory. After an Arizona field goal, the Eagles tied the game when Bradford connected with Ertz for a 22-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field midway through the second quarter. Ertz beat the busted coverage for his second touchdown of the season.
The Eagles lost starting cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Eric Rowe during the quarter, but it was not a passing play that buried them in the third quarter. Rather, the Eagles could not tackle the Cardinals in the running game. Johnson bulldozed through the Eagles’ line of scrimmage and bounced off Eagles defenders for a 47-yard touchdown run that will play on highlight reels throughout the season to the likely chagrin of defensive coordinator Bill Davis.
With a chance to tie the score before halftime, the Eagles missed the critical fourth down. And the Cardinals made sure the Eagles would regret the failed attempt. After forcing the Eagles to punt on the first drive of the second half, Arizona drove 87 yards on eight plays. Johnson rushed for his third touchdown, but the big play came when Palmer found Michael Floyd for a 29-yard catch on a third down that brought the Cardinals to the Eagles’ 1. Kelly tried challenging the play, but the officials confirmed the call. Even though the Cardinals missed the extra point, they took a double-digit lead.

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