Steve Olenski
Sept 22nd 2008

2008 Game 3... Eagles 23 Pitt 20

Morning TMAers… that my friends, was something to behold. A big win over a very formidable opponent. An opponent that was entering hostile territory with their heads held high and fully confident of a victory.

I mean when that guy sunk that putt, I nearly jumped… wait… I'm talking about the US winning the Ryder Cup of course. You thought I was referring to the Eagles win over the visiting Steelers, didn't you?

Ok, a little golfing levity, but let's get serious.

Missed It By That Much…

So there I am, walking into MQ's stately manor, ready for kickoff when MQ throws a look at me as if to say ‘what in the name of Ron Solt are you doing here?' Why the look I ask.

Turns out I showed just a bit early… like to the tune of three hours. Yeah, big man thought it was a 1:00 game.

Should have known right there and then that it was going to be a strange game.

Did You Notice? …

Early in the First Quarter the Eagles ran the exact same play – the fake end around then handoff to Westbrook – which they failed to successfully execute last week vs. Dallas? Last week of course the play resulted in a fumble, arguable the biggest play in a game of big plays. And that they ran the same play AGAIN late in the Fourth Quarter while they clung to a small lead?!

The complete and utter pathetic attempt by Lorenzo Booker to pick up the block on a blitzing Steelers' LB in the 2Q? It was the pressure applied by this Steelers' LB that forced McNabb to hurry his throw which resulted in a Steelers INT.

Sav Rocca is turning into quite the weapon. It only took Andy Reid 10 years or so but he seems to realize, finally, that Special Teams can have a direct influence on the outcome of a game. Who knew? Oh yeah, EVERYBODY but you Coach!

The Phillies and Eagles games ended just about the same time? Ok, the Phils' final pitch came at the same time as Byron Leftwich's throw was skimming the turf and there were still a few ticks left on the clock but… you get the point.

Missed It By That Much – Part Deux…

Once again the boys in the stripes had a dreadful day.

•  The most egregious bad call of many bad/no calls on the day was the no call made on the vicious helmet-to-helmet hit by the Steelers DE Orpheus Roye on the Eagles RB Tony Hunt. Hunt had just caught a short pass from McNabb and was trying to get as much yardage as he could when Roye – who clearly led with his helmet, drilled him in the head. The Steelers recovered the ensuing fumble and kept possession following a review. And not once through replay after replay did Mr. & Mrs. AFC, AKA Jim Nantz & Phil Simms ever question the legality of the hit by Roye. Not once. Way to call the game down the middle boys.

•  Still waiting to hear an explanation as to the seemingly phantom Delay of Game infraction called on Mike Patterson in the 2Q. The resulting penalty gave the Steelers a first down. Was waiting to see a replay but alas CBS, never to let a little thing like a football game stand in the way of their unveiling their new fall lineup ad nauseam, chose to take the few seconds until the next play to run a quickie promo for some Godforsaken show that no one will watch.

•  And speaking of the next play… Eagles DE Juqua Thomas, who had a monster game, was being grabbed, clutched, grasped and any other words that mean HOLD by the Steelers OL Chris Kemoeatu.

•  Brian Dawkins should have been flagged for Pass Interference on the INT by Asante Samuel. Watch the replay, he clearly has his back to the play and is waving his arms trying to block the receivers' line of sight.

•  On this next one, it was the wrong call that ended with the right result. The play I am referring to is the zebras calling Intentional Grounding on Roethlisberger in his own end zone in the 4Q, resulting in a Safety for the Eagles. That call was incorrect as clearly the ball was tipped however it was also clear that Big Ben's knee was down before he released the ball. So the correct call should have been a sack and Safety but the ends justified the means and the Eagles correctly received 2 points.

A Steelers Fan Checks In…

From a Steelers blog immediately after the game:

“That sucked. Mourn together. It may help us all get through one of the most pathetic offensive performances in the modern era of professional football.”

Ouch, harsh words. They're true of course, just a little harsh.

May I Have This Nantz? …

I realize Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are CBS' #1 announcing team and I realize, as stated above, that they work for a network that is home to the AFC and as such there will be a certain bias toward those teams but… some of things that came out of their mouths was, well… you be the judge:

Nantz referred to some old Eagles QB as “Jawarski.” Then later credited Eagles LB Omar “Gather” with a fine play.

But perhaps the strangest call came from Simms who said following a Steelers run for 0 yards “Jim, that was a good no gain.” He then went on to try and explain what he meant and when he finished MQ and I looked at each other… did a collective “WTF?” then went back to watching the game.

The Lito Shuffle…

Let's see, we had some missed tackles, blown assignments… yup, just another day at the office for Lito. And for some reason, the Eagles refuse to give this guy more money. Go figure.

Pat, I'd Like To Buy A Clue, Please…

In a world where superlatives in the sports world are thrown around and handed out like candy on Halloween, I witnessed two instances of a member of the sports media heaping accolades on two people who couldn't be any different yet share one common trait: they stink.

First we had Chris Wheeler, who if you don't know, I hold in the least amount of regard possible, bestowing compliment upon compliment to an umpire, one Joe Cowboy West. I kid you not. I know people who are reading this who did NOT hear Wheels' comments are as aghast as I was when I first heard them but it's true. According to Wheels, Cowboy Joe is a great umpire, the kind you never notice during a game. Clearly the glue on Wheels' rug has seeped into brain.

Then we had CBS Halftime guy Shannon Sharpe. S Squared was doing the highlights for the Cards/Redskins game and he proceeded to dispense big time praise on one Jason Campbell, the Redskins' QB. I was speechless after hearing it and I am still speechless now.

Rapid Fire…

•  Mark this down: DeSean Jackson is going to commit an Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty very soon and it could cost the Eagles dearly. Time and again yesterday, particularly after punt returns, he initiated contact with a Steelers player; looking to start something. This kid is extremely talented yet extremely cocky. A little humility can go a long way and he needs a good dose of it, now.

•  The Eagle Defense was scary good yesterday. It was very reminiscent of the Gang Green dominance and they are getting a swagger and confidence about them. If they weren't already, the rest of the league was put on notice yesterday that the Eagles Defense is for real.

•  Why did it take so long to get a report on Brian Westbrook? Where's Tolly working the sidelines when we need him?

•  The reports of Brian Dawkins demise have been greatly exaggerated.

•  What a difference a week makes for Jim Johnson, huh? Clearly out coached last week, his schemes and play calling kept Ben and the Steelers guessing all afternoon.

•  Finally, what was Steelers' Coach Mike Timlin thinking in NOT trying to kick a FG at the end of the game? That's a mistake made by a young coach. Not timeouts, he needed to react quickly and he made the wrong call. Period. But I think he's going to be a good coach in this league.

The Bottom Line…

A very, very good win against a very, very good AFC team. Defensively the Eagles are clicking on all cylinders. Offensively, the big question of course will be the health of Brian Westbrook. Let's all hold our collective breaths and say three Hail Marys until we hear definitively as to the severity of his injury.

Til next time.

Time's yours. Food's mine.

Steve Olenski







© Copyright 2006. Jules Pilla

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