NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Philadelphia Eagles have had a tendency to ease up on opponents this season.
They paid for their latest letdown with an embarrassing, come-from-ahead defeat against Tennessee on Sunday at LP Field.
The Titans scored 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter win 37-19 and send the Eagles staggering into their open week. Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt, a second-year player out of Rutgers University, scored three touchdowns and had 225 receiving yards.
"Losing is bad enough," Eagles safety Quintin Mikell said. "This is worse because we have to sit on this for two weeks."
Eagles coach Andy Reid decided not to wait to make a big decision. Minutes after the game, he announced that Michael Vick will replace Kevin Kolb as the starting quarterback when the Eagles resume their regular season against Indianapolis on Nov. 7.
Kolb, who had led the Eagles to two straight victories, struggled against the Titans. He completed 26-of-48 passes for 211 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble that proved to be the turning point in the game.
"It's disappointing" that Reid named Vick the starter, Kolb said. "I enjoy playing out there and I want to continue to play. You learn something every time you're out there and that's what you want to continue to do. But I always trust (Reid) and I trust him now."
Kolb, as well as the rest of the team, learned that no lead is safe against a talented, explosive team such as the Titans (5-2). The Eagles (4-3) were in control with a 19-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. Less than 14 minutes later, they were headed to the visitors' locker room in disbelief.
The Titans scored their 27 points in a span of 13 minutes, 13 seconds on two touchdown passes from Kerry Collins to Britt, an interception return by cornerback Cortland Finnegan and a pair of Rob Bironas field goals. The output was just one point short of the record for most points allowed by the Eagles in one quarter in their 50-year history.
"Compliments to Tennessee for battling all the way through," Reid said. "When you have the opportunities to put a team away, you have got to do it. You can't give good teams an opportunity to survive when you have their back against the wall and we did that."
Early in the second half, the Titans' backs were so far against the wall, they were cracking the plaster. The Eagles led 16-7 and seemed ready to pad their lead. Kolb and company followed cornerback Asante Samuel's third interception of the season by marching to the Titans' 3-yard line.
Over on the Eagles' sideline, place-kicker David Akers was kicking balls into a net in preparation for either an extra point or a short field goal.
He never got the chance.
On first-and-goal, as Kolb got ready to hand off to running back LeSean McCoy, defensive tackle Jason Jones burst through a hole in the middle and wrapped his arms around Kolb. The ball squirted free before McCoy could grab it and cornerback Alterraun Verner emerged from the bottom of the pile cradling it.
"We had a little miscue down there and it just can't happen," Kolb said. "Obviously, that was the turning point in the game.
"We've been saying for a couple of weeks now that we need to have that step-on-their-throat mentality. We didn't have it today and it came back and bit us."
Britt did most of the biting.
The former Rutgers University standout caught seven passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter. The 225 receiving yards were the most ever allowed by the Eagles, topping a 213-yard performance by Dallas' Tony Hill on Nov. 12, 1979.
More impressively, Britt gained all his yards in three quarters. He did not play in the first quarter under orders from Titans coach Jeff Fisher, who benched the second-year player as punishment for his alleged role in a bar fight last week.
"The last few days have been mind-boggling for me," Britt said. "But my teammates needed me and they counted on me. It's my job to go out there and perform and that's what I tried to do."
The Eagles also had a few good performances. Mikell had one of the best games of his career with an interception and a fumble-causing sack. Rookie wide receiver Riley Cooper made an impact with three receptions for 51 yards, including his first career touchdown. Akers bounced back from a 1-for-4 showing last week by nailing four field goals in as many attempts.
But they weren't nearly enough to offset the Eagles' slew of mistakes.
Despite the loss, the Eagles are very much in the hunt for an NFC East title and playoff berth. As of Sunday night, only Atlanta (5-2), New York (4-2) and Tampa Bay (4-2) had better records within the conference. But in order to stay in the race, they will have avoid any more late-game collapses.
"I told the team that this is a great lesson," Reid said. "You can learn from this if you handle it the right way. "
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