Learning how to deal with disappointment is part of learning how to be an Eagles fan, something my 1-year-old son found out today.
(OK, maybe he didn’t know what was going on, but I’ll tell him about it in a few years.)
Sunday’s 32-25 loss to Arizona was disappointing, but not surprising.
I’m 32 years old and have never seen a title for the Birds. My fondest memories of the Birds growing up are of Buddy Ryan’s Gang Green machine – and they never even won a playoff game despite a defense that always ranked among the NFL’s best.
The dominant Eagles teams of the early 2000s under Andy Reid should have won a Super Bowl or two or three, but only played in one and we all know the outcome there.
I, like many pundits, figured the Eagles would cakewalk past the Cardinals, not the least of which because they are the, you know, Cardinals.
But somehow the men in red managed to disappoint us all again. That’s OK because we know the feeling. It’s part of bleeding green, right?
Here are some thoughts on the Eagles’ fourth NFC title loss (frown) in their last five visits:
–Donovan McNabb played a decent game at QB, but he continued his frustrating track record of not being able to take the team on a winning (or, in this case, tying) drive. All of the great ones did it (and some not so great, see Eli Manning in 2008 Super Bowl), but McNabb doesn’t come up large in big spots.
The Birds trailed by 7 with 2:53 left and needed McNabb to take them 80 yards for the tying score. He got the Cards’ 47, but that was it. Certainly it’s not all on McNabb’s shoulders, but you have to find a way to get it done if you want to be great and he didn’t – and hasn’t in the past.
–Did someone forget to tell the Birds’ defense the start time? Brian Dawkins’ bunch didn’t show up until after halftime. By then, it was 24-6 in favor of the hosts. Then, whether it was halftime adjustments or whatever, the Eagles came out flying after the break and shut the Cards down in the second half – until it most mattered.
Down 1 with 10:45 left, Cards QB Kurt Warner marched Arizona 72 yards on 14 plays, chewing up 7:52 of the clock to put the hosts back in front. The defense looked like its old, first-half self on that drive.
When the Eagles really needed a big play to hold the Cards to a field goal, no one stepped up and Tim Hightower scored on a perfectly executed screen pass from 8 yards out.
–The Eagles caught a huge break when the refs ruled that Victor Abiamiri muffed the kickoff and the ball touched out of bounds, giving the Birds the ball on their own 43 with 3:06 left in the first half.
The Cards tried to challenge but were denied because the ball was ruled out. Replays showed that the ball never touched the sideline, and also were inconclusive whether Abiamiri even touched the ball.
It didn’t end up mattering, but it was a break nonetheless – something you can point out to Birds fans who feel the refs are always against the Eagles.
–On that same play, was Troy Aikman saying the Cards intentionally kicked the ball short to attempt to recover it? The noise level in my parents’ house got raised at the time so I didn’t hear him clearly, but I thought that’s what he said.
I would guess that the Cards were just trying a pooch kick to prevent any kind of long return.
Here are some more random thoughts after watching the game…
–DeSean Jackson is good; Greg Lewis is not.
–Ridiculous penalty by Quintin Demps. Deserves a fine.
–Chris Myers is useless as a sideline reporter. Pam Oliver is OK.
–Brian Westbrook looked old and slow. Correll Buckhalter still has some jump.
–Hank Baskett can block … but can’t catch.
–Kevin Curtis is better than I thought.
–Awful hold by Rocca on Akers’ missed extra point.
–Larry Fitzgerald is a beast … but Sheldon Brown and Demps need to be better in coverage.
–Kurt Warner is tough.
–Remember all the talk about the D-line’s resurgence? Maybe it got to their heads.
–FOX graphics needs an editor. It’s “McNabb” not “McBabb.”
–Brent Celek will soon make us all forget L.J. Smith.
The Sixers have put together a nice, little streak of seven straight wins – as Elton Brand still sits and watches.
I’ll be in the big house Monday to see how they fare against the Mavs.
That’s all for now.