28
Dec
09

EAGLES 30 BRONCOS 27

A TALE OF TWO HALVES – It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  Sorry for the literary references, but yesterday’s win over the Broncos almost turned into a dickensian level tragedy.  The Eagles led 20-7 at halftime and 27-10 midway through the 3rd quarter.  They were cruising.  But  a bad penalty, a fumbled kickoff, and several inept offensive series’ (simply put, the 2nd half offense was OFFENSIVE) turned what should have been a mostly comfortable rout into a 27-27 tie with about 4 minutes to go and the Broncos holding the ball on their own 10 yard line.  Yes, the Eagles pulled out the win thanks to a nice stand by the defense and an amazing sideline catch by rookie Jeremy Maclin.  But while the game started so brightly, the ending was very disconcerting and definitely raises some issues as the Eagles march towards the playoffs.  (Not the least of which is the season ending knee injury to our starting center Jamaal Jackson) On the bright side, 2 years ago or even last year the Eagles probably lose this game.  So if nothing else there was one main ingredient that kept this from becoming a true tragedy: A Happy Ending. 

THE GOOD

  • The Eagles have now won 6 straight games and are 11-0 on the season when leading at halftime.
  • With one game left to play the Eagles have now scored 429 points on the season (averaging 28.6/game) – a new Eagles’ single season record. 
  • DeSean Jackson has now caught a TD pass in 5 straight games.
  • Brent Celek had 4 catches for 121 yards and a TD and no longer looks to be suffering the effects of his thumb ligament injury.  This could prove to be very important heading into the playoffs as opponents will look to shut down DeSean and Maclin on the outside.  Nobody can consistently cover all three of them…
  • McNabb’s 27 yard scramble on 3rd and 25 late in the fourth quarter.  Nice to see Donovan use those legs of his.  He may not be as fast as he used to be, but the run was huge.  Although the drive stalled, his run tilted field position for the first time in the 2nd half and would ultimately allow the Eagles to have only a short drive to get into position for the game winning field goal. 
  • Asante Samuel picked off his 9th pass of the season. 
  • The Eagles had a -2 turnover differential and still managed to win the game.

 

THE BAD – Where do I begin?  There were so many things that sucked yesterday.  Here are the worst of the worst:

  • The officiating, part 1.  18 total penalties for 154 yards.  A long game made even longer by the number of flags thrown.  The game was sloppy on both sides and while the Eagles won’t come out and bash the refs because they don’t wanna get fined, I have no problems trashing them here.  One call that pissed me off happened on the first Denver offensive series.  Dmitri Patterson recovered what was initially ruled a backwards pass, picked it up and carried it into the endzone for what looked like a very early 6 points.  After Denver challenged the call, the officials overturned the ruling on the field and said it was an incomplete forward pass.  The TD came off the board and the Broncos punted.  Now according to the NFL calls are only supposed to be overturned with CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE that the initial call was wrong (or as one coach said somewhere, “50 drunk guys in a bar would all have to agree that the call was wrong in order for it to be overturned”).  There is no way you can CONCLUSIVELY say that the pass went forward.  All the replays I saw looked like it went parallel to the line of scrimmage. 
  • The officiating, part 2.  The call above was bad but it was DWARFED by the HORRENDOUS unnecessary roughness penalty called on Macho Harris midway through the 3rd quarter.  On Asante’s aforementioned interception, Macho layed one hell of a hit on Broncos Tight End Tony Scheffler allowing Asante to run the ball all the way back to midfield.  The hit was absolutely clean (shoulder to shoulder) and was definitely in the field of play.  But the officials thought otherwise.  Straight up – THIS CALL WAS ABSOLUTE HORSESH*T!!! For starters, Macho was only focused in on Scheffler so he wouldn’t have necessarily seen the Interception.  Second, it was a bang bang play and Macho had no chance to stop himself or avoid the contact.  Third, how many times have we seen a player intercept a ball only to be caught from behind by the original target? At that point, Scheffler had his head up and Macho was simply trying to spring his man for a long run back.  A piece of sh*t call by an inferior officiating crew. 
  • The fallout from that horrendous call.  The Eagles ended up with the ball on the 1 yard line, went 3 and out and Denver got the ball back on the Eagles’ 25.  Denver quickly scored, then Macho fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Denver quickly scored again.  14 points in 49 seconds.  ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!!! The entire team let that garbage penalty throw off their momentum and suck the life out of the Linc.  THIS IS FOOTBALL GENTLEMEN.  BAD CALLS HAPPEN  GET OVER IT AND DO YOUR DAMNED JOBS.
  • Andy Reid’s horrid playcalling makes another appearance.  3rd and 1 from the Denver 18 yard line.  Andy calls a wildcat formation with DESEAN taking the direct snap 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage.  WHAT THE HELL WAS HE THINKING?!?! This call made me so pissed off it’s not even funny.  WHY THE F WASNT THAT THE WEAVE’S PLAY?!?  I thought Andy had figured out over the last few weeks that on 3rd and short you give the ball to The Weave and you get a first down.  But The Weave wasnt even on the field for that play.  Instead, Andy put our most dangerous offensive weapon in harm’s way with really no hope of picking up the first down.  Needless to say the play lost 3 yards and the Eagles kicked a field goal.  Stupid sh*t like that will cost the Eagles come playoff time. 
  • The Eagles unwillingness to run the football.  By my count the Eagles attempted almost 50 pass plays and only about 25 designed runs.  I haven’t crunched the numbers over the past few weeks but I’d be willing to bet there was much more of an emphasis on the run in the previous games than there was yesterday.  I realize the Eagles still scored 30 points but my fears about Westbrook’s return remain valid.  The team simply didn’t emphasize the run much at all yesterday and only finished with 79 rushing yards from Shady, The Weave, and Westbrook.  I sincerely hope that’s not a sign of things to come. 

 

THE VERDICT – Inconclusive.  Yes, the Eagles won the game and in past years they probably would’ve managed to blow it.  Loyal Eagles fans also knew a “burp” game was coming so better that it came now than in the postseason.  But the game was by no means pretty and the 2nd half drives (Int, TD, 5 Straight Punts, FG) should make just about every single Eagles fan wanna vomit.  The inconsistency that plagued the first half of the Eagles season reared its ugly head again yesterday.  They went from looking like clear cut favorites to make it back to the Super Bowl to a team that will be one and done.  And that’s the most frustrating part of yesterday’s game.  I have no idea if it was simply a little bump in the road or a sign of things to come.  The Eagles proved in the first half that they had WAY MORE talent on the field than the Broncos.  But talent doesn’t win playoff games and unlike the Broncos (who can’t finish games) the Saints, Vikings, Cardinals, Packers, and Cowboys CAN finish games.  Nobody associated with the team should be happy about yesterday’s game and they best work their asses off this week so they can take their frustrations out on Dallas next week.

UP NEXT: THE DALLAS COWBOYS.  Next week’s game in Dallas is ABSOLUTELY HUGE.  Though both teams have already clinched playoff berths, the winner of the game wins the NFC East and still has a real shot at the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs (all that’s needed now is one loss by the Vikings).  Dallas is coming off 2 straight wins and is feeling great about themselves, having finally answered the questions about their inability to win in December.  The Eagles (despite yesterday’s showing) have won 6 straight games and are fast becoming the team-that-no-one-wants-to-face-in-the-playoffs.  There really aren’t enough superlatives to describe next week’s game.  It’s December, it’s a nasty NFC East rivalry game and it’s the Cowboys.  So of course the Eagles should wanna beat the living hell out of them anyway.  Plus, with all of the playoff ramifications involved, the Eagles need to come out pissed off and ready to fight.  Whether or not they have to face the Cowboys again a week later in the playoffs (a real and distinct possibility), the Birds should pull out all the stops and look to improve upon the 44-6 beatdown they laid on Dallas in last year’s finale.  Better to destroy them next week and make them come all the way to Philly to get humiliated a second time than have to stay in Dallas for an extra week.  I expect an exciting, antacid filled shootout that allows the Eagles to clinch the #2 seed and a first round playoff bye…

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