Philadelphia Eagles Escape from Alcatraz with Win over 49ers

Mike LacyContributor IOctober 11, 2010

LeSean McCoy led the Eagles attack
LeSean McCoy led the Eagles attackJed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Much like the prisoners in old Alcatraz movies, the Eagles narrowly escaped from the Bay Area last night.  Matched against an 0-4 49ers team that made plenty of mistakes, the Eagles had to withstand a late, furious comeback attempt. 

After kicking a late field goal to give themselves a 10-point lead, the Eagles appeared to have the game well in hand in the fourth quarter. But much like the Lions game, their defense gave up some late points to make things much closer than it should have been.  With the 49ers driving for a potentially game-tying field goal, the Eagles finally intercepted the ball and emerged with a 27-24 victory.

The Eagles defense managed to look both dominating and inept in the same game.  On one drive they might stymie RB Frank Gore or force a turnover.  On the next drive, they’d let Vernon Davis or Michael Crabtree run free for big gains.  QB Alex Smith went from getting lustily booed by his home fans to almost leading his team to a huge comeback win.

Kevin Kolb looked improved from his play in previous games, but still missed several opportunities, and when he had a chance to put the game away in the fourth quarter, he could not get it done.  He also can’t seem to get the ball to DeSean Jackson.

Still, there’s no such thing as a bad win (especially on the road) in the NFL.  Wins over teams that haven’t won a game count the same as beating a previously undefeated team. 

The Highlights

  • The defense forced four turnovers, including a fumble they returned for a touchdown.  They also did a good job in limiting RB Frank Gore.
  • Kevin Kolb hit some receivers downfield and made some plays.  His touchdown pass to Brent Celek was an excellent play as he escaped from a good deal of pressure.  He also had a gutsy play where he scrambled and dove for a first down.  He may not have looked great, but he at least looked like a capable NFL quarterback.
  • LeSean McCoy continues to be a powerful and elusive runner (although there are still some things he needs to work on).

The Lowlights

  • The Eagles simply couldn’t cover TE Vernon Davis or WR Michael Crabtree.  I don’t know if it’s because he’s still recovering from his injury, but MLB Stewart Bradley looked incapable of dealing with an elite tight end.
  • More long kick returns against the Eagles.  The first return set up a 49ers touchdown, and the second gave the 49ers good field position late in the game.  This needs to stop happening immediately.
  • More costly penalties.  It is ridiculous how much this team has been penalized, especially on the offensive line.
  • Despite having a mostly excellent game, LeSean McCoy had two plays that almost really cost the team.  First, he had another fumble that was fortunately recovered by the Eagles.  And with an opportunity to power his way to a game-clinching first down, McCoy just kind of slid to the ground. I’ll cut him some slack since he was playing with a rib injury, but those are things that he just cannot continue to do.

Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week

When LT Jason Peters went out with an injury (what else is new?), King Dunlap went in to replace him.  Dunlap appears to be a marginal NFL player, and yet the Eagles had him trying to block a defender one-on-one for much of his time on the field.  I was starting to get "Winston Justice vs. the Giants" flashbacks.

For whatever reason, when an Eagles offensive lineman is struggling, Reid never seems to want to give him help.  How many times did we see Michael Strahan get past Jon Runyan before Reid finally used a double-team?  Reid has to realize sooner that Dunlap is just not capable of getting the job done by himself.

The McNabb Report

One week after the Redskins relied on their running game to earn a win against the Eagles, they employed a pass-heavy offensive attack to upset the Green Bay Packers.

With the Redskins rushing game not having the same success as the week before, McNabb had a rough first half.  He was constantly getting knocked around by the Packers defense, and almost every drive ended in a punt.  McNabb looked somewhat gimpy late in the second half as he was sacked five times in the game, and took several other hard hits as well.

But despite being slightly hobbled, McNabb put up some big numbers throwing for 357 yards.  He showed he can still throw a great deep ball as he completed a 48-yard touchdown pass to WR Anthony Armstrong.

In the fourth quarter, trailing by three points, McNabb led the Redskins into position for a game-tying field goal.  Then in overtime, he drove the offense down the field again, resulting in an easy game-winning field goal.

Elsewhere in the NFL

  • There are no more undefeated teams, as the previously unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 19-9.  This was far from a masterpiece from the Colts as Peyton Manning had a sub-par game, but backup running back Mike Hart scored a touchdown to lead the team to victory.
  • One of the preseason favorites in the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys, fell to 1-3 as they lost to the Tennessee Titans at home by a score of 34-27.  Tony Romo threw three interceptions, including one on the last drive when the Cowboys were attempting to make a comeback.
  • So who in the NFL is actually good?  No team seems able to distinguish themselves in the early going.  The Bears currently have the best record at 4-1 but does anyone really believe they’re the best team in the NFL?
  • On the other hand, it’s easy to see who the worst teams are.  Buffalo, Carolina, and San Francisco are all 0-5, and don’t appear to have much hope.  I think Carolina and the 49ers are both capable of winning some games this year, but it does seem possible for the Bills to go 0-16.

Eagles' Next Opponent

The Atlanta Falcons improved to 4-1 as they used a late defensive touchdown to seal a 20-10 win over the Cleveland Browns.  Despite a big day from RB Michael Turner, the Falcons allowed the underdog Browns to hang around, mostly due to an inability to convert red-zone opportunities.

Final Analysis

It wasn’t pretty, but coming into the game, I didn’t have high hopes for the Eagles here.  I figured that having to play a desperate team on the West Coast in a night game would not go well for them.

The 49ers may be a bad team, but as I said earlier, it is difficult to complain about a win, no matter how you get it.  In this season of parity in the NFL, I think that as long as a team can hang around in contention, they’ll have a good chance to make the playoffs.

Originally published on my blog: Stranger in a Strange Land


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