2008 Game 7... Eagles 24 Falcons 14
Heading into this weekend Philadelphia sports showed to have a lot of promise. Things got kicked off Saturday afternoon when the Flyers defeated the New Jersey Devils in overtime by the score of 3-2. Soon after, while we all waited for the monsoon to pass over Citizen Bank Park, the Penn State Nittany Lions remained undefeated in Columbus with a 13-6 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes. The night cap (morning cap) was provided by our Phitin Phils taking game 3 of the World Series 5-4 in a bottom-of-the-ninth thriller.
Sunday had that same type of anticipation and promise, but it was up to the Eagles to start this sports day off on the right cleat. The Eagles were off last Sunday and you know what that means: Andy Reid + bye week = 9-0. Not only was Reid looking to go 10-0 following the bye, but he was also trying to become the 17 th coach in NFL history with 100 wins in his first stint as a head coach. Here we go…
This game against the Atlanta Falcons was different than previous games this year. Instead of coming out the gate with a 14-point first quarter and playing the second half blindfolded, the Birds started slow but maintained focus and finished strong.
I dare you to find a better story in the NFL this year than the Atlanta Falcons. After a nightmare of a season that included the face of their franchise behind bars and their new head coach hitting the road for Arkansas and leaving nothing but a note, the Falcons regrouped with a rookie quarterback and a 4-2 record heading into Philadelphia.
The first quarter ended scoreless, and the Falcons struck first in the second scoring on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Roddy White. Donovan McNabb did not look like his arm enjoyed having the week off, throwing balls over and under his receivers in the early going. He too realized that and started to use his legs once again, capping a drive with 3-yard touchdown run. David Akers added a field goal and gave the Eagles a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Another pair of legs that was good to have back are those of running back Brian Westbrook. Early in the third quarter Westbrook showed that his ankle and ribs are not going to stop him as took the football 16 yards for a touchdown. The first time hearing cornerback Lito Sheppard's name came late in the third quarter when he was the culprit of a pass interference call that gave the Falcons first and goal. But rookie QBs do make mistakes and on second and goal Sheppard redeemed himself by picking off Ryan in the endzone.
A 17-7 lead in the forth quarter and an opportunity to add to it with a touchdown on third and goal ended poorly. McNabb could not sneak into the endzone and the Birds had to settle for 3 and allow the other Birds to fly around for a few more minutes.
Matt Ryan constructed an impressive drive, converting on a fourth and 5, and hooking up with White again in the back of the endzone for their second touchdown. The Eagles went three-and-out and had to punt with just over two minutes left, but the Falcons muffed the punt (without touching it) and gave the Eagles the ball back to put it away for real. Westbrook did exactly that with a 39-yard scamper, ending the game at 27-14 advantage Eagles.
Surely it felt good for Matt Ryan to play professional football in his hometown. It also felt good to have some weapons back on offense. Westbrook rushed for a career high 167 yards and also caught six passes for 42 yards. Wide receiver Kevin Curtis showed that sports hernia surgery doesn't affect speed, catching three balls for 45 yards in his first game this season.
Besides coach Reid getting his 100 th win and staying undefeated after the bye, the Eagles also accomplished a few other impressive feats. Philly became the 7 th franchise in NFL history to win 500 games, and McNabb went over 3,000 career rushing yards, the 8 th quarterback to do so.
A healthy looking Eagles team heads to Seattle this Sunday to face the 2-5 Seahawks. A win against another flock of birds is absolutely necessary since the following week the Eagles hope to win their first divisional game at home against the Giants.
By that time the World Series will be a historic memory and the city's focus for the rest of 2008 will be on the Eagles who have some ground to make up. I'm calling for the Eagles to win out and be in the Super Bowl.
Yeah right, that has about the same chances as a Phillies-Rays World Series.
© Copyright 2006. Jules Pilla
Not affiliated with the Philadelphiqa
Eagles or the NFL.