No-Huddle: One-liners on Eagles’ 26-21 loss to 49ers

For the first time in four weeks, the Eagles were unable to complete a comeback Sunday, falling short on a fourth-quarter surge after an afternoon of offensive struggles in a 26-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Here are 10 one-liners that sum up Philadelphia’s first loss of the season:

In a game that saw the Eagles score three return touchdowns on a punt, interception and fumble, the team couldn’t muster any points on the offensive side of the ball, finishing the day with just 11 first downs, six of which came on the second-to-last drive.

At the core of the Eagles’ offensive struggles was the team’s failure to move the ball on the ground for the second consecutive week.

LeSean McCoy’s trademark explosion was nowhere to be found against a Niners defense that limited him to 17 yards on 10 carries, but the inconsistencies of the Eagles’ ailing O-line, which was without three regular starters, may have been the biggest reason for that.

Quarterback Nick Foles was erratic for much of the game, throwing two interceptions and missing the mark on several deep throws, but he did help drive the Eagles into scoring range in the waning minutes of the contest.

Trailing by five points on their longest drive of the game in the fourth quarter, the Eagles moved the chains thanks to a diving sideline catch by wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, but two straight incompletions by Foles from the Niners’ one-yard line all but sealed the defeat.

Fumbles by receiver Riley Cooper and tight end Zach Ertz, the latter of which set up a 49ers touchdown that brought San Francisco within one point, didn’t exactly help the Eagles’ offensive drought nor put the team’s defense in a good position.

The Eagles surrendered 177 rushing yards between Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Frank Gore, but the Philadelphia defense also scored on a Malcolm Jenkins interception return, made 11 out of 19 possible third-down stops and held San Francisco to field goals on four separate drives.

Perhaps just as notable as the Eagles’ offensive woes was head coach Chip Kelly’s play-calling, which garnered some criticism after he called two straight passes from San Francisco’s one-yard line and earlier declined a penalty that would have led to a 49ers fourth down.

Reserve wide receiver Brad Smith and backup running back Darren Sproles, one of the team’s consistent play-makers this season, were responsible for the Eagles’ special teams touchdowns, with Sproles returning a punt 82 yards for a score and Smith recovering a blocked Andy Lee punt in the endzone early in the first quarter.

Now 3-1 on the season, the Eagles will return home for another showdown with an NFC West opponent in their next game on Oct. 5, a 1 p.m. battle with the St. Louis Rams (1-2).

Flying west: 3 questions for Eagles vs. 49ers

They’ve been banged up and slow to start games, but the Eagles are 3-0 for the first time since the team’s 2004 Super Bowl season.

One of three remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL after a narrow divisional win over the Washington Redskins last week, Philadelphia will head west for an opportunity to affirm its place atop the conference in a Sunday showdown with the San Francisco 49ers.

Here are three questions to consider as the Eagles look to capture their fourth consecutive win against the Niners (1-2):

Which ailing team will prevail when the Eagles have the ball?

Both the Eagles and 49ers have some injury concerns. For Philadelphia, the issue mostly pertains to the offensive line. For San Francisco, the Niners’ defense is without several regulars. When the Eagles have the ball, all eyes will be on which side is hurting the most. Quarterback Nick Foles showed toughness for the Eagles last week, but he’ll take snaps behind a unit that’s missing Evan Mathis, Allen Barbre and now Jason Kelce. The 49ers, on the other hand, are already without linebacker NaVorro Bowman and suspended pass rusher Aldon Smith, but could also be missing safety Antoine Bethea, who is questionable for the game.

Can the Eagles get the ground game going against Patrick Willis and Co.?

Philadelphia scored 37 points against the Redskins last week, but the team’s rushing attack was uncharacteristically nonexistent. A week after being held to a combined 76 yards, LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles figure to play a big role in the Eagles’ game plan against San Francisco. Running on the Niners could be tough, however. Although they’re missing Bowman, they still have Pro-Bowler Ahmad Brooks to go along with perhaps the best inside linebacker in the league in Patrick Willis.

Will the Eagles contain the 49ers’ offensive potential?

San Francisco has struggled to find an offensive balance early this season, but that doesn’t mean the team lacks talent. Even if all-star tight end Vernon Davis (questionable) does not play, the Niners boast an array of physical weapons, including running backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree and quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Applying pressure up front and covering the middle of the field without injured linebacker Mychal Kendricks could be key for the Eagles.

Reports: Tobin likely to start for Eagles

There appears to be a glimmer of hope for the Eagles offensive line.

A unit that’s been ravaged by injuries early this season is likely to welcome back Matt Tobin, one of its top reserves, in Week Four, according to reports from The Philadelphia Inquirer and philly.com.

Per reports, Tobin is likely to start for the Eagles this week after missing the first three games with a high ankle sprain.

Early practice observations from reporters Tuesday indicated that Tobin is on track to play left guard. Dennis Kelly, the fill-in for regular starter Evan Mathis, would then slide to right guard, from which Todd Herremans would move to right tackle.

Assuming the starting lineup doesn’t change before Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, the line would appear as follows, from left to right: Jason Peters, Tobin, David Molk, Kelly and Herremans.

To recap the Eagles’ early barrage of absences up front, right tackle Allen Barbre, who was replacing Lane Johnson during the latter’s four-game suspension, will miss the remainder of the season after being placed on Injured Reserve (IR); Mathis is eligible to return after Week Eight as a member of IR/Designated for Return with a MCL sprain; and center Jason Kelce, who reportedly suffered a sports hernia against the Washington Redskins, will be sidelined indefinitely.

Instant replay: Foles, fights and a fiery Eagles win

The stage was set for drama.

After consecutive come-from-behind wins to start the year 2-0, the Eagles were probably ready for an emotional game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Philadelphia’s first divisional contest of the season also served as a homecoming for ex-Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

That being said, I’m not sure anyone expected the NFC East brawl to become, well, a literal brawl.

A physical afternoon was headlined by a bench-clearing scuffle that ensued after a late hit on Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, but at the end of the day, it was Foles and Co. who came out on top, sending Philadelphia to its first 3-0 start in 10 years with a 37-34 victory.

Foles looked more comfortable than he’s ever been this season despite little production from the ground game and the loss of another injured starting lineman in Jason Kelce, but more than anything Sunday, the third-year signal-caller proved his toughness–a resiliency that’s characterized the Eagles early this season.

The final of his three touchdown passes on the day broke a 27-27 tie in the fourth quarter and capped off the same drive in which Foles was illegally blindsided on an apparent interception. Officials ultimately overturned the turnover, but a crushing block by Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker at the end of play left Foles on the ground and a number of Eagles, namely left tackle Jason Peters, retaliating in support of their quarterback.

Both Baker and Peters were ejected from the game after the heated mix-up came to a close. Coupled with the late absence of Peters and an abdominal injury to¬†Kelce, the team was left with only one of its Opening Day starters up front. That surely didn’t help the Eagles’ unusually ineffective rushing attack, but head coach Chip Kelly still found ways for Philadelphia to churn out 30 points, six of which came on the go-ahead score, a 27-yard fourth-quarter connection between Foles and Jeremy Maclin.

Jackson had his fair share of time in the spotlight, mocking his former team after hauling in an 81-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to tie the game at 27, but it was the Eagles offense that made plays when it mattered.

In fact, without some clutch performances on the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles might not have escaped with a win, either. Although Philadelphia’s inconsistencies in both pass rushing and pass coverage were dangerously exposed, the Eagles made a handful of third-down stops and halted a potential Washington comeback in the fourth quarter when safety Malcolm Jenkins notched his second interception of the year.

The Eagles might have scratched and clawed their way to a 3-0 start, and their win against the Redskins Sunday was the biggest evidence of that to date. Amid injuries and the struggle to play to their potential, however, they have at least flashed the possibility of dominance and, perhaps to an even greater degree, the ability to overcome adversity.

Other notes from the Eagles’ gritty 37-37 win over Washington: Jackson was the most talked-about big-name receiver of the day, but Eagles rookie Jordan Matthews might have stolen the spotlight with eight catches and two touchdowns in his breakout performance; on his first play of the season, No. 3 running back Chris Polk put the Eagles on the board after returning a first-quarter kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown; after combining for 280 yards against the Indianapolis Colts in Week Two, running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles were limited to a total of 72 vs. the Redskins; rookie kicker Cody Parkey continued to build his reputation as a long-ball specialist with three field goals, the longest of which was 51 yards, for the Eagles.

Welcome home: 3 questions for Eagles vs. Redskins

It’s arguable the Eagles have yet to play to their potential, but one thing that hasn’t been lacking for Philadelphia through the first two weeks of the season is resiliency.

Less than a week removed from its second come-from-behind victory of the year, Philadelphia will have its first opportunity to make a statement in the NFC East when it plays host to ex-Eagle DeSean Jackson and the Washington Redskins.

Here are three questions to consider as the Eagles return home for a divisional showdown with the Redskins (1-1):

Can the Eagles stop the run despite thin LB depth?

The Eagles ruled out starting inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks earlier this week because of a calf injury suffered in Week Two, and, despite a dominating performance in the season opener, the team’s front seven had trouble defending against the run vs. the Colts. Without Kendricks and backup Najee Goode (Injured Reserve), the Eagles could call on Emmanuel Acho, Casey Matthews and cross-training rookie Marcus Smith to help slow down Washington’s ground game that’s headlined by Alfred Morris.

Will DeSean Jackson’s return have more bark than bite?

Jackson, a three-time Pro-Bowler in his six years with the Eagles, might not even play because of a sprained AC joint suffered last week. If he does suit up for the Redskins, however, he could be a difference maker seeing that Washington will already be without injured starting quarterback Robert Griffin III. Regardless of whether Jackson’s return to Philadelphia sparks little more than cheers and jeers from the crowd, it figures to be a story throughout the day.

Can Philadelphia get in an early rhythm on offense?

With a week of starting experience under their belts, the Eagles’ injury replacements along the offensive line could be more dependable against Washington. But even if Dennis Kelly and Andrew Gardner weren’t filling in for Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre up front, Philadelphia might have its hands full against Redskins pass rushers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Keeping the pocket clean for quarterback Nick Foles could be key for the Eagles if they want to get into an early rhythm.

Sproles, Eagles come up big in 30-27 comeback win vs. Colts

New opponent, same result. Well, sort of.

A week after scoring 34 unanswered points in their season-opening victory, the Eagles struggled to muster momentum in the first half of Monday night’s prime time game against the Indianapolis Colts, only to rebound for their second consecutive comeback win of the year, a 30-27 defeat of Andrew Luck and the defending AFC South champions.

A 36-yard field goal by Cody Parkey as time expired gave the Eagles the win, but quite a bit unfolded before the seconds ticked down at Lucas Oil Stadium, including an explosive night for veteran running back Darren Sproles.

While starter LeSean McCoy (20 carries, 79 yards) was held in check for much of Monday night’s battle, Sproles was a human highlight reel out of the Eagles backfield, finishing the game with 178 yards from scrimmage. Responsible for breaking Philadelphia’s scoreless streak in Week One, the former New Orleans Saints backup scored on a 19-yard run in the third quarter and later set up the Eagles’ go-ahead touchdown in the fourth.

A second-quarter touchdown pass from Luck to tight end Jack Doyle propelled Indianapolis to a 17-6 lead, which the Colts extended early in the third thanks to a field goal by Adam Vinatieri.

Quarterback Nick Foles, playing behind an offensive line that was without two injured starters in Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre, led the Eagles to two scoring drives in the fourth quarter, the first of which ended in a game-tying TD pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Foles wasn’t perfect on the night as one of his 37 throws, an earlier shot at Maclin, was intercepted by the Colts’ Greg Toler, but he finished with 331 yards through the air and helped command the Eagles’ comeback.

Credit for the win also goes to the Eagles defense, which had its fair share of struggles against Indianapolis but came through with a three-and-out stand in the waning minutes of the game. Despite its promising showing against the run last week, the Eagles “D” surrendered a combined 149 rushing yards to Colts backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson. That being said, the defense forced a fourth-quarter turnover when safety Malcolm Jenkins intercepted a pass by Luck and was also responsible for preventing the Colts from scoring on their last drive.

The Eagles, who became the first team in NFL history to twice trail its opponent by more than 14 points in the second half and start the season 2-0, will next return home for a divisional matchup against the Washington Redskins (1-1) Sept. 21.

Other game notes: McCoy, despite averaging less than four yards per carry against Indianapolis, scored the Eagles’ first touchdown on a one-yard run in the third quarter; Philadelphia was forced to rely on backups Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho at inside linebacker after starter Mychal Kendricks suffered a second-half calf injury; Parkey, who was acquired from the Colts via trade during the preseason, unofficially converted his game-winning kick twice since his first attempt was negated by a last-second Indianapolis timeout; defensive end Fletcher Cox was part of an Eagles turnover for a second straight week after forcing a Bradshaw fumble.