NEW ORLEANS – The Eagles didn’t sugarcoat their 48-7 loss to the Saints.
“An embarrassing one,” said quarterback Carson Wentz, who threw three interceptions and no touchdowns.
“The evidence is disturbing,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “Probably the worst loss I’ve ever been a part of.”
Historically, for the Super Bowl-defending champions, it was.
The Eagles became the first defending champs to lose by 41 points as New Orleans racked up 546 yards of offense and controlled the clock for 37:34 of the blowout. The Saints hadn’t beat a defending champion in 15 years.
Then they shut out the Eagles in the first quarter. The 10-0 advantage didn’t fully underscore the 190-15 yard advantage an explosive Saints attack built.
An inefficient Wentz (19-of-33 for 156 yards) became visibly frustrated when Saints Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore picked off a ball intended for Nelson Agholor.
“I was just mad at myself,” Wentz said. “I pride myself in coming out swinging early.
“The product that we’re putting out there is not up to our standards. I’m not playing up to my standards.”
Things didn’t improve much for Philadelphia in the remaining three quarters. The Saints continued to roll, as quarterback Drew Brees connected with six different players for passes of at least 16 yards. The run game jelled, with Mark Ingram compiling 103 yards and two scores on the ground while Alvin Kamara rushed for 72 yards and added 92 as a receiver. When the Eagles secondary – what was left of it, as two more defensive backs suffered game-ending injuries – looked to shut down star receiver Michael Thomas, Brees built chemistry with rookie Tre’Quan Smith. Smith followed up a nine-game stint of 12 catches and 214 yards with 10 catches, 157 yards and a touchdown in his 10th game since New Orleans drafted him in the third round of Central Florida.
The Eagles couldn’t answer.
This was different than their first four losses, in which they fell by 6, 3, 2, 4 and 7 points, respectively.
The message needs to change, defensive end Chris Long said.
“We’re not immune to losing,” Long told USA TODAY Sports. “Just because we’ve been good doesn’t mean we’re going to be every week, roll the ball out there and win. Guys need to take up for each other and just play.”
And the accountability must come from within, Long said.
“No one’s coming to save us,” he said. “We’ve got to fix ourselves.”
Losses like this have that self-reflection effect, said right tackle Lane Johnson, who ranked the loss in the top-two worst of his 73-game career. Wentz’s interceptions, the five sacks the line allowed and a rushing attack that mustered 58 yards all did little to aid a defense that let up 183.1 yards more than the 372.9 it’d been averaging, 12th stingiest in the league.
“It got ugly,” Johnson said.
The silver lining: Even at 4-6, the Eagles are two games away from the NFC East-leading Redskins. Washington quarterback Alex Smith suffered season-ending tibia and fibula fractures in Sunday’s loss to Houston. The Cowboys are a game ahead of Philadelphia at 5-5.
So “don’t hang your head,” coach Doug Pederson told his team. “Let’s go.”
Ertz – who said he’ll start with a hard look at himself first after a two-catch, 15-yard day – agreed.
“Until it says Week 17, 0:00, we’re going to continue to fight,” Ertz said. “That’s the only mindset we can have right now.
“Our backs are against the wall.”
Follow Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.