Eagles vs. Giants: Biggest Winners and Losers for Philadelphia from Week 4

Bob CunninghamSenior Analyst IOctober 1, 2012

Eagles vs. Giants: Biggest Winners and Losers for Philadelphia from Week 4

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    In typical fashion for the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles, their win in Week 4 came in the final two minutes.

    And was dramatic enough to give any Eagles fan—of any age or health status—a massive heart attack.

    While the Eagles' first two wins of the season came against AFC opponents, Week 4 saw them best their biggest NFC East rival, the New York Giants, by a score of 19-17 with the winning points coming courtesy of Alex Henery's right foot.

    The win puts the Eagles in sole possession of first place in the division, but once again brought several troubling questions to the forefront.

    The entire city of Philadelphia is always the biggest winner after beating the Giants, but in a game that featured its fair share of mistakes for the Birds, there are plenty of individual losers, as well.

    And for once, one of them is not Michael Vick.

Winner: Michael Vick

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    Vick finished the game 19-of-30 for 241 yards and a touchdown, but it's what he didn't do that makes him the big winner.

    For the first time this season, Vick didn't turn the ball over. Not once.

    He made plays with both his arm and his legs, in and outside of the pocket. For the most part he looked very comfortable, even with pressure in his face for most of the game.

    The Giants tried to force him into mistakes, but he was able to avoid giving them the ball and instead managed the game as well as we've seen since he took over the starting role in 2010.

    There were a few questionable throws, but they were few and far between. He also did a great job of protecting himself when he became a runner by avoiding the big shots and ducking out of bounds when he could.

    If Vick can continue avoiding the big mistakes, while at the same time making some big plays and gaining back the confidence he had two years ago, he can go back to being an asset to Philadelphia rather than a liability.

Loser: Demetress Bell

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    Once again, Bell was a complete and total disaster. And once again, calling him a complete and total disaster is a far cry from actually describing just how bad he truly was.

    There were several times where he would flat-out miss his block and had me questioning whether he has some vendetta against Vick. I'm not sure what Vick could have done to deserve the "look out" blocks Bell was throwing Sunday night, but it must have been awful.

    The guy has absolutely no technique. He drops his hands, he stops his feet and then he doesn't even have the motor to at least stick with his man and ride him past Vick so he can at least step up into the pocket instead of being forced to run for his life.

    If the Eagles don't get King Dunlap back very soon, Vick could wind up taking a shot from his left side that forces him to miss a few games.

Winner: Brandon Hughes

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    When Nnamdi Asomugha was forced to miss time after getting poked in the eye, it wasn't Curtis Marsh—last year's third-round pick—the Eagles called on.

    It was Brandon Hughes.

    Hughes has stuck around the league because of his willingness to play special teams, and that's what has kept him on the Eagles' roster as well. But he's apparently shown the coaching staff something during the week to convince them he's more than just a special teams ace.

    There were a couple times he allowed Domenik Hixon to body him up and make a catch, but for the most part Hughes played extremely well. He nearly had an interception in the end zone and had the best play in coverage of the night when he was beat on an inside move, but recovered to knock away an Eli Manning pass near the sideline.

    Losing Asomugha for any amount of time would be a disaster, but at least there's someone coming along behind him who appears to have some ability.

    Unfortunately, everyone was hoping it would be Marsh.

Loser: Bobby April and the Special Teams

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    While each unit had their down moments, the Eagles offense and defense played very well overall. The special teams, however, was a different story.

    First of all, Henery's kickoffs were just barely getting into the end zone with any consistency. With the ball at the 30, that would be acceptable. With the ball at the 35, he's immediately putting the coverage team at a disadvantage.

    Then the coverage unit came very close to making their name an ironic joke.

    Every time David Wilson touched the ball he was almost guaranteed to reach the 35, and went even farther a few times.

    In fact, the coverage team's lousy effort nearly lost the game for Philly as Wilson was able to give the Giants great field position on their final drive, and he would have returned a kick the entire way earlier in the game were it not for an incredible effort from Mardy Gilyard.

    Before April arrived, Andy Reid hired and fired two special teams coordinators in two years. If April doesn't get his guys playing better when it counts, he could be the next to get the axe.

Winner: Andy Reid

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    Initially, this slide was mostly going to be devoted to praising Reid's much-improved play-calling.

    After all, the Eagles ran the ball more than they passed for what feels like the first time in Reid's 14-year tenure. Additionally, the ratio didn't come from leading in the fourth and only feeding LeSean McCoy to run out the clock.

    The play-calling was sound not only in its design but in its timing.

    That would have all been for naught, however, if it weren't for a little bit of luck as Reid nearly pulled a Jason Garrett.

    Reid tried the ages-old tactic of "icing the kicker." For those who don't know, that's when a coach stands next to the official and calls a timeout right before the ball is snapped on a field-goal attempt. The goal is to rattle the kicker and make him miss on his second, and only meaningful, attempt.

    The problem is Lawrence Tynes had already missed on his first attempt. The camera flashed to Reid, who was wearing a smug look that a coach deserves after a hard-fought win against a division opponent.

    At least, that's how the look was interpreted until it was revealed Reid had attempted to ice Tynes and he would actually get another shot to end the game.

    With that revelation, it became obvious the look was one of worry, regret and a desire to kick himself for his bonehead decision.

    But once Tynes' second attempt fell short, Reid was back to being a winner and once again worthy of a smug look.

Loser: The Eagles Pass Rush

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    The Eagles were supposed to once again field the most intimidating defensive line in not only the division, but the entire league. Unfortunately, that has not been the case this season, and that certainly did not change against the Giants.

    Even against a subpar offensive line, the front four—regardless of personnel—was unable to get any real pressure on Manning. Even when it counted at the end of the game, the defensive line was stonewalled by a Giants offensive line that is barely passable.

    Trent Cole and Jason Babin are making far too much money to be so ineffective getting to the quarterback in big situations. Add in a high-profile guy like Cullen Jenkins and two first-round picks in Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham and there's absolutely no excuse for walking away from any game without a sack.

    The defense as a whole has been impressive, but the defensive line is quickly going from a strength to a question mark, and it will become a full-blown concern if they don't start getting to the quarterback more often.

Winner: Brian Dawkins and All of Philadelphia

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    On the same night the team pulled out a thrilling win against the New York Giants, the Eagles retired Brian Dawkins' No. 20, making sure no one will ever wear the same number as Weapon X.

    Philadelphia has seen its fair share of great defenders, but Dawkins stands out not only because of his Hall of Fame-caliber play, but because of his incredible personality, fire and grit between the white lines and in the community.

    There was no one in the league—not even the great Ray Lewis—who could match Dawkins' energy and undying passion for the game and his teammates. No one gave a speech like Dawk, and no one backed it up like Philadelphia's own Wolverine.

    It's only fitting that on a night the Eagles put away the Giants, they honor the man who tormented that same franchise twice a year for 13 seasons en route to becoming one of the greatest, and perhaps most beloved, Eagle of all time.

    Can y'all feel that? ... That thing that's beatin' in your doggone chest right now? Can you feel that?