Eagles can't afford loss to 49ers


The Eagles are running out of time. Running out of chances.

Its getting to be just about time where the Eagles are going to find out if theyre truly a contender or if theyre going to have to be content being the worlds most talented last-place team.

Eagles-49ers Sunday at the Linc, and a loss to the 2-1 Niners would put the Eagles in a precarious position a quarter of the way through the season.

Only one team in NFL history has ever started out 1-3 and won the Super Bowl. And it was coached by Bill Belichick.

We know ... the importance of this game, NFC rushing leader LeSean McCoy said. We kind of realize were in a tight situation, backs against the wall. What are you going to do? And the only thing you can do is respond.

I think everybody is ready to roll, ready to play. We should be fine. The mind set of the team is a must-win game. On both sides of the ball. Each player take care of their business, do their job, we should be fine.

Since the inception of the current playoff format in 1990, some 21 teams have opened a season 1-3 (or worse, in the 1992 Chargers case) and made the playoffs, including the 1990 and 1995 Eagles. The only one to reach a Super Bowl was the 2001 Patriots.

Historically, September has been the Eagles worst month -- by far -- under head coach Andy Reid.

The Eagles are 23-20 in September since 1999 (.535) but 27-19 in October (.587), 32-18-1 in November (.637) and 37-15 in December (.712) -- not counting games Reid didnt play his starters.

This September was the Eagles first losing month since September 2007, ended a streak of 15 consecutive non-losing months.

We understand that we put ourselves in this situation, said quarterback Michael Vick, whos been unable to finish either of the last two games. Obviously, it could have been better but we had certain things that happened. Some things we have control over and some things we dont. And the only thing we can control is the situation thats in front of us right now and going out and taking care of it, and we as players are the only ones that can control that.

The Eagles problems are simple ones and familiar ones.

Penalties. Turnovers. Red zone.

Each and every snap that were together we continue to get better each and every week and learn from my mistakes, Vick said. And hopefully well continue to gel and things will turn around for us, and I think it will.

The Eagles are one of only three NFL teams ranked among the top-12 in both offense and defense, yet theyre 1-2 because of mistakes and sloppy play.

Were kind of hurting ourselves, McCoy said. Get down to the red zone, get in there. Get the points. The opportunity to make big plays, we usually make them. Converting on third downs. The little stuff. If we can convert the little stuff, well be OK.

Finishing and stuff. Its the small stuff. I think thats the big problem with us. The little stuff.

The Eagles are quickly learning that simply having great players doesnt make a great team. If you dont play 60 minutes, if you dont play smart, youre not going to beat anybody.

Dont get wrapped up in the expectations, McCoy said. Were a great team, and weve just start playing like it. I think when teams watch the tape and they actually scout us, our play is better than our record. We just have to come out and finish.

The 49ers come to the Linc with a quiet offense but a playmaking defense led by Patrick Willis and tremendous special teams with returner Ted Ginn, punter Andy Lee and kicker David Akers. Theyre seeking their first 3-1 start since 2002, when their quarterback was Jeff Garcia.

The play of their front seven, Maclin said when asked what concerns him about the Niners. Those guys can get after the quarterback, 3-4 scheme, they can throw so many different blitzes at you in so many different ways, and we understand thats what theyre probably going to try to do, and the way you beat that is being precise, and when they throw something out there, youve got to counter it.

Only five teams have gained more yards than the Eagles. Only 11 have allowed fewer yards. Yet the Eagles are teetering on the brink of 1-3.

When will they get this figured out? And when they do -- if they do -- will it be too late?

I think were right there, Maclin said. I think were showing spurts where offense is unstoppable, defense has gone through spurts where the d-line is dominating and the cornerbacks arent giving up anything. We know we have the potential, we know we have the talent to do it, now weve got to go out and do it. But I think were right there.
E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

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