Eagles miss opportunity to clinch East, pulled back to NFC pack

SEATTLE -- Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz spent much of his time in between series sitting on a Gatorade cooler at the 50-yard line, poring over film on his tablet in search of answers. For the first 45 minutes of the game, one of the brightest young minds in the game was unable to crack the code.

He showed off his MVP ability with a pair of beautiful plays early in the fourth quarter to make things interesting, but the Eagles were ultimately overpowered by a Seattle Seahawks team that showed a level of intensity Philadelphia could not match.

"Like I told the team after the game, you can't just show up and expect to win against good football teams," said coach Doug Pederson. "[The Seahawks] are really good in the month of December. That's when teams need to be playing their best football and we didn't do that tonight."

The 24-10 loss snaps a nine-game win streak and pulls the Eagles, alone in first place for weeks, back to the pack in a loaded NFC. At 10-2, they are now in a tie with the Minnesota Vikings. The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams are right behind them at 9-3.

The Eagles and Rams play in Los Angeles next week in what becomes a critical game in the fight for home-field advantage, adding to the drama of a matchup that pits the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL draft, Jared Goff, against the No. 2 pick, Wentz.

This will be a test of the Eagles' mettle. They have been steamrolling opponents, winning each of their previous three games by 28-plus points. The last time they were seriously challenged before Sunday was a Thursday night matchup at the Carolina Panthers in early October. It was also the last time they played an opponent with a record currently over .500 until Sunday night.

This two-game West Coast swing against the Seahawks and Rams is the toughest stretch on the calendar. While their finish is a manageable one -- they play at the New York Giants and then home to the Raiders and Cowboys to close the season -- they need to head back east with a split to ensure the playoffs run through Philadelphia.

Wentz completed 29 of 45 passes for 348 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He fumbled on a carry near the goal line early in the second half, the ball rolling out of the end zone for a touchback.

"It's tough to do that on the road in close situations like that, especially when you are down at the one-yard line," said Wentz. "Tough to do that and expect to win."

Wentz came up with one of the more astounding plays of his season early in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles life. Scrambling to his right with Seahawks defenders in hot pursuit, he stumbled near the sideline but somehow still launched a pass that dropped in over the defense and into the arms of receiver Nelson Agholor for a 51-yard gain. Wentz followed that up with a 27-yard TD to Agholor in the left corner of the end zone to cut the deficit to 17-10.

Russell Wilson (20-of-31, 227 yards, 3 TDs) got the best of this showdown, though, and responded with a touchdown drive of his own to push the game out of reach.

The Eagles' defense entered as one of the stingiest in football but yielded three touchdowns on as many red zone trips. Philadelphia committed two turnovers and had untimely penalties. Coach Doug Pederson has had an aggressive mentality all season but played conservatively in the first half as his team fell behind. The Eagles had a chance to clinch the NFC East, and failed to do so.

It’s the first bit of adversity in a while for the Eagles. Now, it's time to see how they respond.

"The beauty of the whole thing is that it is still in our control," said Pederson. "Guys in that locker room are sick to their stomachs obviously for the loss. But at the same time we have a great opportunity against another playoff caliber football team next weekend. So we just have to regroup and learn from our mistakes and get ready for another great game next week."