After the theme music from Rocky blared on the public address system, the Eagles came out swinging in search of an early knockout of the Jets. They scored on their opening possession, converting three times on third down including Jordan Howard's 1-yard scoring plunge. Then the deficit grew to 14-0 when Luke Falk's fourth-and-2 toss intended for Le'Veon Bell was returned 51 yards by linebacker Nathan Gerry for a score.
"I had a guy in my face," said Falk of Gerry's pick-six. "I needed to throw it on the outside and I just left it inside. The guy made a good play. I just really have to put it on the outside and maybe we have a chance there."
Falk struggled mightily as the Jets were unable to sustain drives, failing to convert on any of their seven third-down attempts in the opening 30 minutes. He had a ball sail on him late in the half that was deflected by Demaryius Thomas (4-47) and intercepted by safety Rodney McLeod. The second Falk turnover led to more points as Carson Wentz quickly led the Eagles down the field and made it a 21-0 contest with an 11-yard scoring pass to TE Zach Ertz. Finally midway through the fourth, Eagles veteran corner Orlando Scandrick took advantage of Falk holding onto the ball too long, registering a strip-sack and racing in from 44 yards out.
"I'm not going to make any excuses," said Falk, who received first-team reps at practice Friday after Sam Darnold was ruled out of Week 5 action. "I have to go out there and perform better than I did today. I was getting mental reps all week and I have to do the best with what I have."
See Best Images from the Road Trip to Philadelphia
Defense Answers Challenge
Two weeks ago, the Jets yielded touchdowns on three consecutive possessions to the Patriots before righting the ship. Against the Eagles, the defense responded better following the Howard TD and shut the door until the late Ertz score in the second. After yielding the initial three conversions on third down, Gregg Williams' unit held Philly to just 2-of-11. The run defense, which entered the game 6th in yards per carry, limited the Eagles to just 3.3 yards an attempt.
Safety Jamal Adams had a deft third-down pass defense in the third quarter and was a physical presence all afternoon with six tackles. Ageless veteran Steve McLendon had a sack of Wentz and was in on a fourth-down stop of the Eagles' signal-caller. Neville Hewitt, making another start in place of C.J. Mosley, led the club with 10 stops and had a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
"As one of the leaders, I have to make sure everyone is keeping their head held up high," Adams said. "Playing fast and controlling what we can control."
Two-Six the Workhorse
With Kelechi Osemele nursing a shoulder injury, the Green & White started Alex Lewis at LG. And after Adam Gase indicated personnel changes were coming, the Jets made veteran Brandon Shell inactive and replaced him at right tackle with rookie Chuma Edoga.
But with Darnold missing a third consecutive game, the Jets were held at bay. Falk was sacked nine times before being replaced late by David Fales (who was also sacked once), and Le'Veon Bell was held to 43 yards on 15 rushes.
"You have to be able to protect the quarterback in this league and that's just the bottom line," said center Ryan Kalil of the 10 sacks. "For us, it's about going to work and fixing the things we have to fix. A lot of it is technique and that's what we have to do."
The Jets averaged 2.3 yards on their 55 offensive plays. Relying almost entirely on Bell from the onset, the workhorse received 18 of the offense's first 22 touches.
"Right now, things are not looking smooth because a play or two if a guy messes up or we're not making the right read or somebody misses a block," said Bell, who added seven receptions for 45 yards. "Whatever it is, I don't know what it is. During the game, I just feel it."
An unlikely contributor — wideout Vyncint Smith, who was added off the Texans practice squad on Sep. 23 — gave the visitors their second offensive touchdown in 2019. Following a Trenton Cannon recovery of a muffed punt, the Jets confused the Eagles with a misdirection and Smith was the recipient of a Falk pitch. Falk lined up in the shotgun, faked a handoff to Bell up the middle and the defense followed him along with a trailing Ty Montgomery. While the Eagles pursued left, Smith came across and had an easy 19-yard run to the end zone.
"We're not doing anything right, right now," Gase said of the offense. "We're playing bad."