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Say it Ain't So! New England steals Eagles dream 24-21,take Superbowl XXXIX rings.
For the past two weeks , the city of Philadelphia was like I never have seen it. Saying hi to strangers at the Supermarket. Chit Chatting about the GAME with anybody who had an Eagles sweatshirt on. Watching the local news devoid of any fires, tradegies or murders. Funny how there weren't any crimes doing these two weeks. Hearing Fly Eagles Fly until you couldn't get it out of your head. Smiling for no real reason except for the fact that the Eagles, our beloved Eagles. were going to the Superbowl for the first time in 24 years.
Yes, going to the Superbowl after all this time. It's funny but I still feel angry about the 1981 Superbowl. That Jaworski led team were not even in the game. Jaws tossed an opening game pick that we never recovered from. I have that game on video tape. Twenty four years have passed and I still have never brought myself to watch it again. It still hurts too much.
But this year, I felt different. It was our turn. I was going to a parade down Broad Street. This Eagles team would erase years of empty feeling. The great feeling of the last two weeks would go on until next season. But Nooooooooo.
Snap back to reality.
The expectations of the fans this year, this week, were simple. One, just get us to the Superbowl and two, play a competitve game. And with the final score being 24-21, you could say that everybody should be feeling ok today. I'm sure that's not the case. That's how we will feel after we get over this deep funk we now feel. Even Prozac won't help make this pain go away.
The game itself.. where to begin?
It is hard to criticize Donovan McNabb for this game. I love this guy. He played well enough to give us a chance to win but after his best season ever, the critics will still be asking can he win the big game. He finished the game with 30-51 for 357 yards and 3 TD's and 3 INT's. He also fumbled a ball and threwn another INT that were both reversed. He had a very Bret Favre type of game.
If there is area of the team that can be pointed to for coming up short, I would point to the play of the offensive and defensive lines. On the offensive side of the ball, Donovan barely had time to set up to throw. The Pats pressured him all day long. He was sacked 4 times and knocked down countless times and hurried too many times. On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles just managed to get one sack on Brady. Even with all the blitzing they did, he still was able to stand in there with more time that Donovan had. Javon Kearse was a non factor. And the starting interior line didn't get the push up the middle that we needed.
Terrell Owens...what can you say?
He is simply outstanding. He is a medical marvel. To be able to get on the field was remarkable . But to have a really good game is another. He finished the game with 9 catches and 122 yards. Not to shabby.
Other highlights and lowlights...
Derrick Burgess had another sack. He has really come on strong and could emerge as a star next year.
Brian Westbrook had a nice game with 7 catches for 60 yards and a TD. And the TD was a thing of beauty. A laser beam thrown by Donovan Mcnabb between two defenders.
Greg Lewis had an outstanding game coming in later after Pinkston had to leave the game with cramps. He had 4 catches for 53 yards and a TD. We'll see more of him next year.
Pinkston had a 40 yard catch from Donovan that was as pretty a catch as you will ever see.
This team really has to work on a hurry up offense. Down 10 points in the fourth quarter, their entire 79 yd drive showed no urgency. Having a huddle on every play made for a painful 79 yd drive. I'm sure every fan in Philadelphia was screaming at the TV . Andy needs to improve on that ascept of his game as this is not the first time we have seen this slowing moving Hurry -up offense.
Snap Back to reality
I guess that we are left with the words we have gotten used to saying in Philadelphia. "NEXT YEAR". I hate those words.
Thanks Eagles for a terrific year. It was a great season. Millions of fans felt great all season long. And the past two weeks will never be forgotten. For all the heartache we feel right now, we love you. And we always will.
Don't worry, we'll get them " Next Year"
Even though the season is over , don't forget to check back often for updates, free agent alerts, Draft info , who we think stays or goes and more.
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Yours truly was 16 years-old the last time we were in these parts and I can tell you at that time I did not get the same sense of appreciation as I do now.
Back then football was a diversion. I was as fanatical as the next person, but didn't truly get a sense of what was actually transpiring. I never thought of course that this would be the ONLY time the Eagles would make the Big Show.
But as the years ticked off and the pounds ticked on , I realized that getting to the Super Bowl is something special, something to be treasured and appreciated.
Of course now…FOOTBALL IS LIFE! If the Eagles lose on a given Sunday, the whole week is shot, right? We're in bad moods. We yell at people driving in our cars for no good reason. Of course this mentality and way of thinking is quite ridiculous and nothing more than wasted energy.
But do not confuse adulthood with ambivalence. That would be a major mistake. No, when we reach the age of mortgages and car payments and tax dependents, our fanaticism just manifests itself in a different way. At least it should. Painting your face then kissing your kids goodbye as you head to the game to get drunk with your buddies just doesn't equate, at least not in my book.
But that's another story for another time.
However as adults we are forced to deal with and come to grips with the harsh reality that our hometown team hasn't been to the Super Bowl in twenty-one loooong years. We have lived and died right along with our heroes. We've put in our time. And now we're going to enjoy each and every minute, right?
I am sorry for the digression…here's my thoughts on the game.
Since the culmination of the AFC Title Game, I have had a score in my head and see no reason to change my thoughts.
That score is 31-20 in favor of the Eagles. Objectivity being what it is, I truly believe the Eagles can win and perform a similar "upset" as the Pats did vs. the Rams a few years back. It may well be a 24-20 game in reality with a late TD perhaps to get to 31-20.
I for one pay no attention to the point spread so that was not even a factor in my thinking.
Defensively, I think the Eagles can and will contain Dillon; their run defense has been nothing short of tremendous over the last half of the season and playoffs (last 2 reg. season games of course do not factor).
What is amazing, among many amazing things about the Pats, is even when they lose (rare of course) they still out-produce their opponent.
They lost to Skins in Week 4 but were without 9 starters; two new OL and Brady had a sore elbow; threw 3 picks. They still had nearly 150 more yards of total offense.
They lost to the Dolphins in Week 15 but still out gained them by 100 yards.
Translation: the Patriots, even when they lose the war, still win the battles and one extra battle won here or there can make the difference in the final outcome.
Offensively I look for the Eagles to actually try and keep things basic. I think Head Coach Bill Belichick & Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel will do their normal scheming which is why I think Andy Reid & Brad Childress should keep things basic. Or perhaps go against their normal method of operation.
For instance, use Westbrook AND Levens at the same time...the Eagles like to "hide" players at the start of game, i.e. Westbrook last week or they don't always get the TE involved for the first few series or even the entire First Quarter. Go against that and do the opposite. Run some draws; the Eagles are not known to run many draw plays.
Translation: you know full well that the Patriots will be watching endless hours of Eagle game footage (as will the Eagles of the Patriots). So why not “go against the grain” so to speak; do things out of the ordinary. Not ALL of the time but at certain times of the game, deviate from your “normal” playbook and make some situational adjustments.
On Defense, the Eagles main focus will be and should be Patriots RB Corey Dillon. He is a major threat and when you consider that they won the Super Bowl two of the last three years without a legitimate #1 back, it just makes their accomplishments all the more impressive.
The Eagles will also of course, have to fend with Tom Brady, the heir apparent to Joe Montana. Very similar in that neither had the big arm nor the gaudy statistics. All they do is win. The bigger the game, the better they play. That is the mark of a true champion.
The bottom line is the Eagles have a very legitimate shot to win the whole shooting match. Many of the “experts” of course have given the Eagles little to no chance to win and I am sure that is just fine with the Eagles players and fans alike.
Have comments or questions about the Philadelphia Eagles for Steve. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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