Sunday, October 23, 2005

Post-game Soundbites

Andy Reid on going for it on fourth down late in the fourth quarter from their own 30:
"I thought we needed to get the first down, keep the thing driving. We had a long fiend in front of us. I wanted to make sure we kept the drive going. In hind-site, I didn't look very smart on that one."

Reid on not getting the field goal team on the field at the end of the first half:
"I blew it. I called a route that I shouldn't have done. I should have put all of the receivers in the end zone and I didn't do that. That won't happen again."

Quintin Mikell on the blocked field goal:
"We have been getting pressure off the right side. I went to coach [John Harbaugh] and said we need to come off that side and he said, 'Okay, let's go.' We went out there and Juqua Thomas came in there hard, Rod Hood came in off the edge hard and pulled both guys out and it was wide open for me. Then Matt [Ware] got it and out ran everyone."

Matt Ware on how he saw the play develop:
"I saw the ball snapped. I came up field, because I was supposed to contain and the ball hit and took a super-nice bounce. I thought, "Man, this is it, right here." I just grabbed it up and started running and all the guys started blocking. I was looking out of the corner of my eyes making sure no one was going to catch me, high knees and pumping my arms."

Donovan McNabb on whether he was frustrated by some of the incompletions in the game:
"I wasn't frustrated by some of the incompletions. When you get completions and then something happens; a mistake, a penalty, or whatever it may be that brings you back, that's something we can't do offensively."

Brian Dawkins on what the victory does to the Eagles morale:
"It gets us back on the winning side of things first of all. It gets the confidence level going back into our favor. It shows that the week before last was a fluke. You guys [media] might as well throw that tape out if you try to review film on us."

Brian Westbrook on the offense throwing the ball 25 straight times during one stretch and whether a team can win like that:
"Can we win? Is that what happened today? I guess so. We found a way to win and that's what good teams do."

Better Lucky Than Good

There is the perception that the Eagles were awfully lucky to beat the San Diego Chargers. This is one case where perception is indeed reality. Yet in the NFL, they don't give credit for style points, only wins.
The Eagles will continue to be justifiably criticized for not being able to run the ball and quarterback Donovan McNabb will come under scrutiny for his second second subpar game. Yet the Eagles, despite their warts are now 4-2 and appear back on the right track.
It seems every year, the Eagles win a game like this that they had no business earning, but it sure beats the alternative.
That's not to say that the Eagles problems may not catch up to them, but it every year, people criticize Andy Reid's pass-happy play-calling, but somehow the team seems to find a way to win.
Is this team better than last year? It doesn't appear that way, but they may not have to be. The Eagles are going to have to get used to these close grind-it-out games. The Andy Reid era has shown that they win more of them than they lose.
So while the Eagles are still working out the kinks, they have the ability to pull out improbable wins.
Lucky? No question. But good teams make their own luck. And the Eagles did that in a win that no doubt is the biggest of the season to date.

Post-game Questions

Are these the wackiest first six games of a season in Eagles history? First, there was the Jeremiah Trotter pre-game fight/ejection. Then there was the Donovan McNabb rare sports hernia injury. There was the remarkable comeback victory in Kansas City. And then the worst loss in more than five years to the Dallas Cowboys. But this 20-17 improbable win over the Chargers takes the cake.

Will this win have the same affect as Brian Westbrook's game-winning punt return TD against the N.Y. Giants did two years ago? That game-breaker also came in Week 6, but the Eagles were 2-3 heading into that contest and looked to be dropping to 2-4. The Eagles went 9-1 from there on out and advanced all the way to the NFC Championship for a third consecutive year.

Does one great play from the special teams nullify all the cruddy ones they've produced up until that point this season?

Can Andy Reid continue to play with the football gods, shunning the run way in favor of the passing game?

Will we ever really know the reason why Donovan McNabb is either good or bad in any particular game? Was it because of his sports hernia or some other injury? Was it because he was just plain bad or because Reid "had to do a better job of getting him the right plays."

Why did Reid call a pass play on the fourth-and-1 late in the game and for that matter, not a very good one?

Why did the Eagles defense focus all its energy on stopping the run? Yes, they stuffed LaDainian Tomlinson, but couldn't they have exerted some energy in stopping Drew Brees?

Eagles 20, Chargers 17

The Eagles would probably rather be lucky than good in this one.

Memo to Andy Reid

Get the offensive play calls in earlier. The Eagles had to burn three timeouts during their one TD-scoring drive. Those TOs sure would have come in handy during the Birds' last drive of the first half.

Memo To Donovan

Throw the ball away! That is all.

First Quarter Score: Eagles 0, Chargers 0

At least the Eagles' defense came to play. All-World running back LaDainian Tomlinson was held in check and held to -13 yards on four carries.

Something tells me the Chargers will be forced to go to the air - which is probably a good thing for the Bolts considering the Eagles pass defense this season.

A Dubious Start

There's nothing like an NFL game with five penalties in the first three minutes. It's not like there's already three million stoppages during the course of a 60-minute game to whet your appetite.

The Birds' had a beauty of a punt by Dirk Johnson nullified by a too-many-men-on-the-field flag. So instead of starting on their on 2-yard line, the Chargers' first possession began on the 29.

Predictably, obviously, as-they-shouldly, the Chargers went to LaDainian Tomlinson early and the Birds' defense was ready, stifling the NFL's best running back with 3- and 6-yard losses on the ground.

Pre-game Observations: Eagles vs. Chargers

Observation #1

The field at Lincoln Financial Field looks surprisingly dry, especially after all the rain we've received the last two days. Yes, we know they have tarps and the such to protect the grass, but between the 40 and 20-yard lines on the south side of the field, there's a patch of brown grass/dirt. Hasn't the field been unused for the last four weeks? Oh right, Temple played Miami here. No wonder one side of the field was worn out.

Observation #2

Will the nippy air and windy forecast play havoc with the Southern California Chargers? Most would say a 57-degree, sunny skies gametime temperature is perfect football weather. Do the Bolts feel that way?

Observation #3

There's a tinge of pink mixed in with the usual swarm of green in the stands at the Linc today. It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Eagles, in conjunction with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, have set the goal of selling 12,000 pink hats and ties this month, with all proceeds being donated to help tackle breast cancer.

Observation #4

Maybe it's seeing McNabb during pre-game warm-ups with an added spring in his step, but the pick here is Eagles 30, Chargers 21. The Eagles will go 7-0 after the bye week during the Andy Reid era and set in motion their climb back atop the NFC perch.

Pre-game Notes

You're looking live at the Eye on Eagles Blog!

We're here at Lincoln Financial Field for the Eagles/Chargers 1 p.m. start. The Birds' inactives are as follows:

Quarterback Mike McMahon, kicker David Akers, cornerback/return man Dexter Wynn, linebacker Jason Short, defensive tackle Keyonta Marshall, tackle Calvin Armstrong, tackle Todd Herreman and wide receiver Darnerien McCants.