Remember the perverted remix to Jingle Bells about farting that every immature boy once uttered at some point in their life? Well here’s a remix: “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, the Eagles laid an egg.” And so on and so on. Well that’s exactly what happened on Saturday night. The Eagles walked into Cowboy’s stadium for the second consecutive week and laid another egg in 34-14 loss. Same team, same stadium, same result.
There’s really not too much positive to say about this NFC Wildcard matchup. The Cowboys proved to be the better team and the Eagles were unable to repair the wounds that were opened last weekend in Dallas. The Cowboys controlled the ball on offense for 2/3 of the game, doubling the offensive output of the Eagles. All of the statistics coming into the game were quickly thrown out the window—the Eagles undefeated in first round playoff games under Andy Reid and the Cowboys losing six straight playoff games dating back to 1996. None of that mattered on Saturday, but rather it was a matchup of conference foes battling it out among 93,000 fans.
I don’t know if I have ever been more impressed with the Philadelphia Eagles. They beat themselves just as much as they were outplayed by the Cowboys. They finished with over 225 penalty yards in the game, setting a number of postseason records. All season long I have supported the two leaders of this team—Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. However, their respective performances, or lack thereof, left me baffled last night. They both have done so much for this franchise but continue to buckle under the pressure. Andy Reid was outcoached by Wade Phillips (or Jerry Jones depending on what really goes on in that franchise) and Donovan McNabb was outplayed by a 29-year-old graduate from Eastern Illinois in Tony Romo.
What a perfect way to close out the decade—a highly anticipated team with a lot of momentum going into the playoffs only to let down the City of Brotherly Love. We have all seen it before and we shouldn’t be that surprised.
And now for the last report card of the season and it isn’t pretty.
Given the circumstances and magnitude of the game, this was the worst performance by Number Five in his 11 years with the team. To put it bluntly, he didn’t complete a pass until midway through the second quarter. I have defended him all season long but there are no words to back his performance. The only excuse was the fact that the offensive line was practically invisible and he was given no time, but he held the ball and was unable to read the defense. A combination of passes in the dirt, missing throws, and throwing across his body seemed to be his biggest problems in the game.
As for Vick, I still can’t take the situation too seriously. Granted it was a great pass and catch to Jeremy Maclin to give the Eagles their first 7 points, his role on the team is still confusing. For all of those Eagles fans that were calling for more action from Vick, get over yourselves because I don’t see him wearing green and white next season. His stint to clear his image was a success and he will be a starting quarterback in the NFL next season. Just like McNabb will be the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Running Backs- C –
Once again, it’s hard to justify a strong running game when the Eagles only run the ball 12 times a game because they are playing catch up. The team averaged over four yards per carry on the night, which is always a positive. However, there needs to be a lot of growth in the running core this offseason because this pass-happy offense is not looking too hot.
As sad as it is to say, it looks like Brian Westbrook’s tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles and potentially in the NFL is over. He sat on the sideline for most of the game and didn’t record a single carry on offense. Ironically enough, he had one reception that led to a 27-yard gain which came on a screen pass. Why didn’t they run the screen pass more often? The questions remain unanswered.
Wide Receivers: D +
I hope that DeSean Jackson learned a big lesson from this game: don’t talk trash unless you are going to back it up. His little Twitter fiasco this past weekend ended up coming back to bite him. He had no receptions in the first half and only three the entire game for 14 yards. Jackson- 0, Mike Jenkins- 1. Both Jackson and Brent Celek combined for only six receptions. As much as it may have been McNabb’s fault for not finding them, there is not much excuse for this lack of production. Jeremy Maclin seemed to be the one who came to play, notching seven receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown. Still the Cowboys secondary continuously shut down the Eagles receivers and left them no room to get anything done on offense.
Offensive Line: F
If there is another positive to take away from this game is that we don’t have to watch the offensive line for another eight months. The revolving door of a line had no answers for the blitzing Cowboy defense. At the end of the game, they allowed four sacks, four tackles for losses, and McNabb was hit a total of nine times in the game. Not to continue to back McNabb, but this would have been a completely different game if he had as much time as Tony Romo. With Sean Andrews gone and Stacy Andrews on another planet, there needs to be some serious moves made to the offensive line in the offseason.
Defensive Line/Linebackers: D
In the beginning it seemed like Sean McDermott had finally learned to stop big plays and limit the success with half back draws. However, as was the case last weekend, the defense was unable to adjust to Tony Romo’s fakes and game-planning. McDermott blitzed early and often in the beginning of the game, but then backed down and looked scared in the second half. At some points, I noticed that he would fake the blitz, only pressure with three lineman, and back the rest of the blitz off. While this seemed to be a creative way to confuse Romo, the defense ended up getting torched because the offensive line was able to block all day for the quarterback. The passing defense seemed to be pretty effective, but once again the lack of pressure enabled the Cowboys to exploit the running game. Felix Jones averaged over nine yards per rush, single-handedly beating the entire Eagles linebacker core and the secondary for 148 yards. Makes us Eagles fans really wonder what the season would have been like with a healthy Stewart Bradley.
Secondary: D +
For the second straight week, a defense that relies entirely on creating big plays forced no turnovers. They did improve a little bit with tackling, but they still were beat by the speedy Cowboys receivers. The struggled with the yards after catch and played more tentative than they have in the past. As painful as it is to credit Tony Romo, he effectively picked apart the Philadelphia secondary.
Special Teams: C
Not too much to comment on with the special teams. Sav Rocca had five punts, which is more a negative thing because it shows that the offense couldn’t get anything going. Jeremy Maclin returned a majority of the kickoffs after Macho Harris went down with a leg injury and did a mediocre job. Pretty much explains the Eagles special teams the entire season.
So another January football game for the Eagles that ends in heartbreak. Granted Eagles fans had the opportunity to watch their team play in January eight times this past decade, but it still can hurt just as bad as not making it. Luckily for Philadelphia sports fans, there’s more than one winning team in this city. Don’t worry, I wore my Roy Halladay Phillies shirt today.