ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?
(Sigh) Well, the Eagles had everything fall into place for them before the start of the game. Tampa Bay lost to San Diego, and there it was in front of our Birds: win two, and head off to the playoffs.
And they couldn’t do it.
A lot went wrong on this Sunday. McNabb threw a handful of passes into the ground, and hung his receivers out to dry on a number of others (Editor’s note: That kid Landry can really lay the wood, too). The Eagles receivers dropped more balls than a maternity ward, including two brutal drops by DeSean Jackson on deep routes, one which would have tied the game on the final drive. The Eagles essentially abandoned the running game in the second half (Editor’s note: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…), and finished the game with only 62 yards on the ground. Asante Samuel dropped what would have been a huge interception with real estate in front of him in the fourth quarter. The Eagles, after being so good on third down conversions the past three weeks, went 3-14 against the ‘Skins, their constant three-and-outs leaving them with horrid field position for much of the second half. L.J. Smith missed a key block on third-and-goal that may have cost them a touchdown, and would have allowed them to simply kick a field goal late to send the game into overtime.
Quite simply, they came out flat, they remained flat, and now they have to regroup, beat a Dallas team that still has the playoffs on their mind, and hope that, somehow, Tampa Bay loses to Oakland next weekend.
You have to feel for an Eagles defense that absolutely played their hearts out all day long. Guys like Darren Howard, Trent Cole, Quintin Mikell, Akeem Jordan, Stewart Bradley, and the man himself, Brian Dawkins, who flew around the field all game long, making big plays for the defense. The Redskins, mainly in the second half, constantly started drives with a short field, and the defense, time and time again, held them, keeping the game within a touchdown. But the offense simply could do nothing.
Sure, the Eagles are beat up and were missing several key players, including Hank Baskett and Kevin Curtis. Sure, the Redskins defense played extremely well, and the Redskins fans created a hostile and loud environment. Sure, Westbrook was playing hobbled for much of the game.
But excuses are for losers. You can’t score 11 points? You’re an NFL team, for Chrissakes. You have to find a way to score 11 points.
As for the last play of the game, Donovan did all he could. Maybe Reggie Brown could have inched another yard down the field, but likely, the coverage camped out at the goal line and he simply found a hole in the zone and hoped he could sneak in. Fact is, it never should have gotten to that point.
What happened? Where did this team’s spark go? I mean, your entire season is on the line – how could you possibly come out flat?
Or did they do what much of Philadelphia did – overlook a Redskins team seemingly in disarray because of the looming showdown against Dallas the week after?
Maybe that’s it. I mean, even I did it. I’ll share some of the blame for this one. In my flex article, I put a disclaimer out against looking ahead of the Redskins. But deep down, I assumed this one was a gimme. What a God-forsaken, ill-advised post.
Shame on me.
And shame on the Eagles’ offense for not showing up. Shame on Andy Reid for giving up on the run game. Shame on the receivers out there for dropping so many passes. Shame on McNabb for some of his throws. This season has revolved around one infuriating question: what if?
Well, playoff teams don’t have to answer that question. Playoff teams either avoid the moments that lead to that question, or they pass the test. This team, more times than not, has failed the ‘what if’ query, and it is why they are perhaps the most frustrating, and inconsistent, Eagles team in recent memory.
And barring Tampa Bay’s fourth straight loss, against a lowly Raiders team, it will be precisely why they will watch the playoffs from home this year.