LEFT: What's that Brian? Oh, you just sacked Jason Campbell and knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs?? You don't say...well that's my you are my STAR OF THE GAME.
Whew, that was a CLOSE SHAVE...after looking good with some big plays in the first half the Eagles offense became somnambulate in the second half...Who would've thought this team could run the clock out. They needed to do it, and yes, they did it once before, but seriously, the way the momentum had shifted, the way the offense had sputtered in the second half (including that infuriating drop by Reggie on that 3rd down that would've started a drive and given the D a rest); I know a lot of phans in Birdland were anticipating a gruesome three-and-out, followed by a heart-palpitating final possession by the Skins and the Eagles 2-pt lead looking oh-so tenuous. But this team refused to break the heart of the many Eagles fans who made the trek down I-95. Garcia made a couple of huge throws (none larger than the little dump to Thomas Tapeh to get that critical "first" first down) and Westbrook made a couple of HUGE runs for us. Before I knew it, Garcia was kneeling and the players were shaking hands...and my heart started beating normally again...You know, with this team, this year, the way things have gone...high-stress close games are par for the course...
#1 defensive star of the game: (and there aren't many candidates) has got to be Brian Dawkins. With a nod to Michael Lewis for that awesome INT return, it was Dawkins making two keys plays in the 4th quarter to secure the win. The first was that flying denial on the 3rd down out pass that Randle El would've converted for a huge first down for the 'Skins if not for Dawk. The second was the huge sack on what turned out to be the 'Skins last drive of the game. I mean, a couple plays earlier the Eagles had let young QB Jason Campbell just scramble for a first down inside our 5 with the score at 21-16....Like a lot of you, I was groaning, anticipating another defensive letdown. But then comes Dawk, screaming in from the end and trying to tomahawk the ball out...sack...forced the Skins to kick the FG, and Eagles D does the most important thing a defense can do: PRESERVE THE LEAD...they gave it back to the O, and as well all know, they made the necessary plays to run-out the clock.
Some Other Random Observations About the Eagles:
I was gonna make this a third entry, but I wanted to keep OG up top for now...
A few things that struck me during the game:
- Stupid tricksy double-screen to LJ cost us a chance at a long FG....AR decided not to try a 53-54 yarder on our opening drive of the second half. Getting points out of those types of situations is going to be CRUCIAL against better teams: it would've disrupted that string of points the Redskins were on and provided some much needed breathing room. NOTE TO ANDY REID: your timing is WAY OFF on the trick plays, STOP IT....quit getting cute when the situation calls for pounding the ball and just running normal plays to regain momentum.
- Baldinger was right on when he talked about the weakness of the Eagles scheme appearing when the big-plays disappear. The Eagles didn't even try to really establish the run. Good thing they didn't lose it completely...
- Omar Gaither is a PLAY-MAKER! Nice pick early, and I thought pretty solid play from the linebacker position, which has been a huge weakness this year
- Thanks Michael Lewis...you've stayed "in the game", haven't sulked about losing your starting job and just gone to work...you're re-earning the fans respect...keep it up.
- Kudos to all the fans who invaded FedEx Field! I think that one fan who was switching between Dawkins and Westbrook jerseys got more camera time than Clinton Portis. I watched online via YahooSports and I saw a TON of Eagles fans at the game...Way to Go!