NEW ORLEANS — Thousands of Eagles fans descended on the city this past weekend to root for their favorite team against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
They crammed the bars and restaurants of Bourbon Street, drinking Hurricanes, eating jambalaya and touring the French Quarter.
Their fun ended soon after they showed up at the Superdome.
The Eagles delivered another sorry performance and suffered their fourth straight loss, 28-13 to the Saints. As a result, the team once billed as a Super Bowl contender ended the first half of its regular season at 3-5.
“I’m absolutely shocked to be 3-5 now,” quarterback Michael Vick said. “We just have to stay strong and find a way to figure it out. It’s very frustrating, but we just have to keep pushing forward. I don’t think it’s too late.”
Before the opening kickoff Monday and again early in the fourth quarter, a chant went up from Saints fans.
“Who dat? Who dat? Who dat gonna beat dem Saints?”
The Eagles didn’t come close.
Their players-only meeting last week and bold talk of turning the season around didn’t work. Many of the same problems — turnovers, poor tackling — that plagued them in the first three losses remained.
“We have too much talent to have this record,” wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. “But we can’t just keep saying it: We have to do it. It takes a team effort, and everyone has to be ready when their number is called.”
The Eagles had plenty of chances to beat the Saints, but the offense failed to capitalize on most of its opportunities and the defense couldn’t contain quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense.
Offensively, the Eagles failed to score a touchdown on four trips inside the Saints’ 10-yard line. Their only touchdown came on Vick’s 77-yard pass to Jackson in the third quarter.
Two of the deep drives ended with field goals by place-kicker Alex Henery. The other two ended in turnovers, including a costly one early in the game.
After the Eagles drove to the Saints’ 5-yard line, Vick’s pass toward Brent Celek bounced of the tight end’s right hand. Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson intercepted it and raced 99 yards for a touchdown. Celek also lost a fumble at the Saints’ 5-yard line during the fourth quarter.
“Honestly, I’m at a loss for words,” Celek said. “I didn’t do anything to help us tonight. I felt like I let the team down and let the city down.”
Vick completed 22-of-41 passes for 272 yards with a touchdown and his ninth interception of the season. He was under constant pressure, suffering seven sacks and at least a half dozen other hits.
After the game, coach Andy Reid said Vick will remain the starting quarterback next Sunday against Dallas.
“If I saw that our guys weren’t playing hard, I’d question that,” Reid said. “But it looked to me like we played hard. When you go (0-for-4) in the red zone, allow seven sacks and have terrible tackling, you are going to struggle to win games in this league.”
Defensively, the Eagles couldn’t contain Brees and company. Brees connected on 21-of-27 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns.
On special teams, the Eagles appeared to score a touchdown off a trick play in the third quarter. Wide receiver Riley Cooper laid face down in the end zone while Brandon Boykin fielded the kickoff. Cooper then got up, caught Boykin’s lateral and sprinted 95 yards for an apparent touchdown. However, the TD was nullified when Boykin was penalized for an illegal forward pass.
Those mistakes offset some bright spots.
Running back LeSean McCoy had a strong game, rushing for 119 yards on 19 carries. Rookie running back Bryce Brown added a dazzling, 40-yard run.
Defensively, end Brandon Graham got a sack, forced a fumble and got a fumble recovery on one play, which led to Vick’s 77-yard TD pass to Jackson.
On the ensuing kickoff, Eagles running back Chris Polk forced a fumble and cornerback Brandon Hughes pounced on it for the team’s second fumble recovery of the game. The Eagles had only one fumble recovery in its first seven games.
But they just couldn’t play well enough or consistent enough to pull out a much needed victory.
“The effort and the toughness are there,” Celek said. “We just have to stick together and play hard. There’s still a half a season left and we can still turn this thing around.”
Contact David Weinberg: