Eagles Wake-Up Call: Doug Pederson Defends Two-Point Decision
BALTIMORE — Wide receiver Jordan Matthews summed up the Eagles’ final offensive play of the game with one simple word.
After Carson Wentz ran for a four-yard touchdown with four seconds left in the game, Doug Pederson decided to call a timeout. The first-year head coach sent his rookie quarterback and the offense back out onto the field for the win, but after Wentz’s pass to Matthews was tipped and dropped incomplete, the Eagles fell to the Ravens, 27-26.
After the game, Pederson said he already made the decision to go for two before the Birds even scored.
“If we had a chance to win it, we were going to go for it and win it,” Pederson said. “I wanted to win the football game, and even our chances in overtime were less than 50 percent winning this game. As an underdog going into the game, we were going to win the game in regulation.”
Pederson said he anticipated the Ravens would call a blitz and run zero-coverage, which Baltimore did, so he went with one of his staple plays against that scheme, which did not include starting running back Ryan Mathews. Mathews, who ran for 128 yards and a touchdown in his best game as an Eagle, converted a two-point try earlier in the day.
“The play-call, the play design, everything was built for that situation,” Pederson said. “And credit them, they got a hand up and tipped the ball.”
Wentz, as well as many of his teammates, agreed with Pederson’s decision.
“I loved it,” Wentz said. “Our coach is aggressive, and he believed in us. We thought they were going to blitz, and they did. It was a good call, but they made a good play.”
Wentz’s pass was intended for Matthews on a quick slant. The receiver ran his route, ut he thought the referees missed a defensive pass interference call at the time.
“Ball came out and I know exactly what happened,” Matthews said. “But I felt the guy [Jerraud Powers] draped over me before he got there. I was waiting for a call, then the ref came over me and said, ‘No call. Ball got tipped.'”
The ball was tipped by inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, whom left tackle Jason Peters was responsible for.
“The ‘backer came, but when I went down, he kind of got his hand on the ball,” Peters said. “And when I looked at the replay, the defender looked like he [committed] pass interference on the play, but it was a tip ball so it’s a no call. I could have did a little bit better, but I had to respect [Terrell] Suggs rushing, so I had to sat back. We fought, we could have won the game, came up short.”
With the loss, the Eagles have been officially eliminated from playoff contention for the third straight season. It’ll also be the second consecutive year the team will finish below .500 as they dropped their fifth game in a row.
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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
During that two-point conversion late in the game, Ryan Mathews was not on the field. But he wasn’t hurt, writes Zach Berman of the Inquirer.
The only other running back was Byron Marshall – a rookie promoted from practice squad on Tuesday and making his NFL debut. He was the running back on the field for the two-point conversion.
“You know they’re going to be in zero blitz; it doesn’t matter who the back is,” coach Doug Pederson said. “They’re going to cover up all the gaps. Your chances of throwing it are actually a little bit better in that situation.”
Maybe so, but the Eagles’ best chance of moving the ball Sunday came by handing it to Mathews. His rushing yards accounted for 39 percent of the Eagles’ total yardage.
“Line was playing great, receivers blocking downfield,” Mathews said. “Tough running, though. But line played great today. Got to give all the credit to them.”
Plays of over 30 yards have hurt the Eagles throughout the season, and especially in the game against Baltimore, from Reuben Frank of CSN Philly.
But the point is no defense can keep allowing these sort of plays — chunk plays, X plays, whatever you want to call them — at this rate and expect to win football games.
“If there’s one place that we can improve, it’s definitely the big plays,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “That’s in the run game and in the pass game. It’s not just one group, it’s the entire defense.”
True. Two of the Ravens’ big plays Sunday were runs. Two were passes. It’s not just the secondary, it’s not just the linebackers, it’s not just the defensive line.
When you’re this bad at preventing teams to strike deep, it’s definitely a group effort.
“If you play an aggressive-style defense, big plays are going to come,” Jenkins said. “So limit the ones that you do give up and find a way to get them on the ground and live to fight another day.”
Doug Pederson will address the media in his day-after press conference at around 2 p.m.