Those kind of performances only come around every few decades.
Sure enough, in the game against the Giants, the offense was much less effective.
The drop off was partially due to the Giants being much better defensively than the Redskins. But the Eagles offense was also derailed by some self-inflicted mistakes.
Guard Todd Herremans committed two personal foul penalties that killed drives.
Quarterback Michael Vick had a late fumble that set up the Giants go-ahead score.
And there were plenty of dropped passes, most notably the dropped would-be touchdown by the normally sure-handed Jason Avant.
And yet, partially because the Giants made plenty of mistakes of their own, the Eagles emerged with a 27-17 victory, giving them sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
What Went Right:
—Matched against a strong defensive line and a well thought out game-plan, Michael Vick showed the ability to lead the team to victory even when the offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Would the Eagles have won this game last year? I am not so sure.
—LeSean McCoy had the two biggest offensive plays of the game for the Eagles. First, with the team trailing by one point in the fourth quarter, on fourth-and-one he ran 50 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Later, his 40-yard run set up the game clinching field goal.
—The defense, which was mostly an afterthought in the Redskins game, was very good against the Giants, forcing (forcing may not be the right word since Eli Manning basically tripped on his face and dropped the ball) five turnovers, and kept the Giants running game in check.
—Former Eagle and current Giants tackle Shaun Andrews had a rough game, getting called for two holding penalties (and it looked like the refs missed a couple more) and seemed to be ineffective as a run blocker. It would have been quite galling to see Andrews come back and hurt the Eagles after all the time they wasted waiting for him to come back from injury.
—Giants coach Tom Coughlin only has one facial expression which can best be described as “incredulous.” He does have different degrees of incredulous though, and I think we got to see them all as the Giants made one mistake after another in the fourth quarter. We also got the see the always enjoyable Eli Manning “I just made a huge mistake” face.
What Went Wrong:
—Much like against the Colts, penalties helped keep the Eagles from opening up a much bigger lead. These penalties are going to cost them at some point.
—I’m not sure why the receivers had such a difficult time holding on to the ball. First, DeSean Jackson couldn’t come up with a ball in the end zone. Later, Jason Avant dropped possibly the easiest touchdown he might ever have. And Jeremy Maclin couldn’t come up with a tough play either. Hopefully, this was just a one week aberration.
—The Giants may have given teams a blueprint as to how to defend Vick: Keep him in the pocket, and flush him to his right. Of course, there are few teams that have the talent on the defensive line that the Giants do, and even fewer teams have players who can match Vick’s speed.
Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week
Nothing stands out too much this week. No wasted timeouts, no bad challenges, and the game plan seemed mostly effective.
It might seem like nitpicking to complain about the team’s biggest play of the game, but I’ve said before that I don’t like using a pitch play on short yardage situations. In this case, since the Giants were obviously selling out for a Vick sneak up the middle, the play call was actually effective.
So really, nothing to complain about.
The McNabb Report
The Redskins game against the Titans showed that sometimes it isn’t a matter of who you play, but rather when you play them. If the Eagles had played this version of the Titans last month, they probably would have emerged victorious.
After his last two performances, Donovan McNabb had taken a great deal of criticism. This week should help alleviate that as he “proved” he could lead a team on a late game winning drive when the Redskins won via field goal in overtime. The game only went into overtime because Redskins kicker Graham Gano missed a 47-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation.
This game said a lot more about the Titans than it did about the Redskins. Titans QB Vince Young played poorly, got injured, and pretty much self destructed. With backup Kerry Collins injured, they had to use third stringer Rusty Smith who did not look especially sharp.
Then, on the Redskins’ game winning drive, they were assisted by three Titans penalties which essentially did all the hard work towards putting the Redskins in field position. Regardless, any road win in the NFL is a good win.
As for McNabb, his statistics looked good, and the end result was good, but it is becoming increasingly clear that his accuracy on any throws besides a screen pass or deep ball is going to hinder their success.
Elsewhere in the NFL
—The Patriots stated their case for being the best team in the AFC as they won their annual match-up against the Colts. Once again, the Tom Brady led Patriots offense looked very sharp. And once again, with a chance to make a late comeback in a big game, Peyton Manning threw a key interception.
—The Cowboys continued their resurgence under new head coach Jason Garrett. The offense, led by backup QB Jon Kitna had a big week in the 35-19 win over the Lions. The Cowboys’ next game—Thanksgiving v. the Saints—should help determine if this team has truly turned a corner, or if this is just a temporary spike in a bad season.
—The Packers trounced the Vikings, leading to the firing of former Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress. The firing was not unexpected, as the Vikings have underperformed, and by most accounts, all the players hate him. I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before Andy Reid hires him back.
Eagles' Next Opponent
The Chicago Bears have been one of the NFC’s surprise teams, as they are tied for first place in the NFC North at 7-3. The Bears have mostly been carried by their defense, which is playing near the level it was at in the 2007 NFC Championship season. QB Jay Cutler has played extremely well at times...and at others he has been an interception throwing machine.
The Eagles have to hope they get the interception prone version. I’m sure Asante Samuel has dreams of at least a couple of picks.
It wasn’t a pretty effort, but they can’t all be record breaking performances. Most divisional match-ups are tough games that come down to a few plays.
This game seemed ominously similar to many other Sunday night games the Eagles have played—and lost—in recent years. Except this time, the Eagles opponent made the big mistake, and the Eagles were the ones to make the game changing plays at the end.
The Eagles are now in control of the NFC East, but their hold is tenuous. And next week’s game seems like a classic letdown game.
Coming off two straight emotional prime time division games, they must now travel to Chicago to face a good Bears team.
If they truly are the best team in the NFC as some people claim, then they need to take care of business and prove it.
Originally published on my blog: Stranger in a Strange Land
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