Well the Birds didn't get that much help this weekend. Atlanta beat the Bucs and Dallas man-handled the Giants....so the Eagles' path to the playoffs is officially out of their hands. They have to win-out (That means beat the Redskins in Washington and Dallas in Philly -- no small task) and get help in the form of either a Falcons loss or a loss by Tampa Bay....because if the Bucs and Falcons both win-out, they'll be 11-5 (imagine that, three 11+ wins in a single division, and would squeeze out the Birds, as their best possible record in 10-5-1 (oh damn that Tie with Cincy!!)
The good news? The Redskins blew their season on Sunday by losing 20-13 to the aforementioned Bungles...and the Saints? They got toasted by Chicago last Thursday night, so they're out as well...
The bad news? A little strife in "mi casa" because I will rooting for the Vikings beat the Falcons next weekend, which would devastate the division hopes of the Chicago Bears (hometown team of Mrs. Ranter....). I don't like "rooting" for something to happen that would screw with the Bears, but its pretty much how it has to be...The Eagles need some help and I will take it anywhere we can get it.
But what about the Eagles games versus the Cleveland Browns???
They squashed the Brownies 30-10, but it wasn't a complete white-washing. The Eagles scored just 2 TD in 7 trips to the red zone, so its no joke to say the Eagles could (or even SHOULD) have scored 40+ in this game.
The KEY play to the game though came on yet another end-of-half gaffe by the Eagles. Twice this season the Eagles have executed an excellent two-minute drill and gotten within scoring position for a FG. TWICE the opposing team (first the 49ers, then the Giants) have blocked said FG and returned it for the TD. Now the Eagles have some survived those huge momentum swings and won both games, but its an ugly, ugly, disheartening thing.
This game shaped up to have a similarly devastating end: The Eagles drove the ball on the Browns and were looking to add to a 17-3 lead....Westbrook just barely missed the end zone on a run and the Eagles were forced to take their final timeout with :09 left in the half. So on a 2nd and a foot the Eagles tried a fade route to Hank Basket...the problem, it wasn't much of a fade, and the CB snatched the underthrown pass and started streaking up the sideline...the O-Linemen missed him and there was only one man with a shot at preventing another late-half blunder-turned-TD: Westbrook...#36 had the angle and chased the Brown Db down the sideline and made him slow up...the Db gave Westie a pretty decent stiff-arm and broke free inside in the Eagles 30 yard-line, but it gave Basket and TE Brent Celek time to catch up and shove the guy out-of-bounds at the 5-yard line and saved a sure TD.
Why was that important? It kept the score 17-3 for one thing, and with the Browns getting the ball to start the second half, the last thing the Eagles needed was the Brownies going into the half-time only down 17-10 and feeling like they were right in the thick of a game that has no business being in.
Well Westbrook prevented that from happening.
My other star players:
McNabb - precise from the get-go, Dononvan may have thrown that one bad pass, but overall, he threaded some serious needles last night, including an awesome strike to Kevin Curtis for a TD on the Eagles first drive of the game.
Stewart Bradley - he made some key stops in the run game and finally nabbed an INT this season, after closing real close earlier on
B. Dawk. - He played another solid game and my favorite Eagle of all-Time recorded his 181st game played for the Birds - breaking the team record of Harold Carmichael.
Jason Avant - Had a record day for him and he came up with big 3rd down catches all game long.