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Stephen Lewis' Articles

A Sad Ending to a Great Story
Stephen Lewis Jan 15th, 2007

The last six weeks of this season were incredible. This team was face in a sudden death situation in six of their last seven games and won in heroic fashion. I stated last week that after beating the Giants, I was ready to hang the “mission accomplished” banner on this season. After seeing the effort this team put on the field last night, I stand by that statement.

I know it hurts to look at the papers and TV and realize there is no game next weekend. But I think we really need to be happy and thankful for the performance our Birds gave us since December.

Saturday night's game was an uncharacteristic loss this season. The Eagles lost a game not because they blew it. They didn't kick any penalty flags. They didn't turn the ball over. The quarterback didn't commit any false starts. They didn't muff any punts. They lost the game for one reason: the other team was better.

I would also like to tip my hat off to the Saints. I really underestimated them. Sean Payton did a heck of job exploiting the weakness of the Eagles defense. The Saints offensive line was composed of the five most valuable players of the night. They simply dominated the Eagles defense, kept pushing them back, and kept pushing McAllister into the end zone. I know the refs were showing some favoritism for the home team that night, but hey, someone has to give this team some help. It sure as hell hasn't been Mother Nature or the federal government. Congratulations, New Orleans. I wouldn't have picked another city worth losing to.

I also think Andy Reid deserves a lot of credit for his play calling performance in this game as well. The Eagles had just 14 yards on the ground in the first half, and Reid managed to find some plays that would better allow Brian Westbrook to get some open field. It worked. Westbrook left the game with 116 yards. I know we are going to hear about his decision to punt with two minutes left to play for several months to come, but as a whole, he coached a great game. As for the punt, if this were a different team (maybe one with a better run defense) I would have made same decision, especially due to the Reggie Bush fumble the series before. You knew they weren't going to try any funny stuff to get the ten yards. They just stuck with what worked, McAllister up the middle. So inevitably, we lost the game for the same reason we lost all season, because we're just not a good enough run defense.

I know Eagle fans all over the planet are sad and depressed this week. Saying to themselves, “not again!” But lets put things into perspective here. Since 2000, the Eagles have won eight playoff games. In the years between 1970 and 2000, they won five playoff games. Since 2000, the Eagles have won the division five times. In the thirty years previous, they won two! That's one division title for every 15 years! I wouldn't call this the dark age of Eagles football.

The window of opportunity is not closed for this team. They have a lot of talent. Shawn Andrews has emerged from being just some fat guy, to maybe the best guard in football. Brian Dawkins can prove that even after reaching the age of 30, he can still play better than any safety in the NFL who is in their 20s. And Brian Westbrook every game proves that he is likely the most dangerous player in football, and definitely the most underrated. They also have a front office, which often come off as greedy (which I am not doubting that they likely are, especially since instituting the seat license) but they know how to manage a salary cap. Which if you look at the careless spending around the league, there are dumb franchises that give 10 million dollar a year contracts to guys who lead the league in dropped balls, and safeties who sit on the bench (I think Daniel Snyder has been giving advise to Billy King for years). And with some decent patchwork in free agency this season, there is no reason this team should not be Super Bowl favorite next season.

So keep your chins up Eagle fans. I know I sound stoned on hope and optimism, but I genuinely believe this team will be a contender for years and one day soon, a champion. If there is one thing we all can celebrate, it's the eleven-year anniversary of the Dallas Cowboys not winning a playoff game.

Next Week: We'll take a look back at the best and the worst of the 06-07 season.

 

 


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