Karma: Can Eagles Forget 49er’s Frank Gore comments?
The Philadelphia Eagles will not find much rest in their 2014 NFL football schedule. Having found success in 2013, they will face some of the top talented teams this year. While each week is critical, each week is important, and each week is vital to a young team scratching and clawing to return to the NFL playoffs and avenge their home field loss to the New Orleans Saints, the road game on September 28, 2014 against the San Francisco 49ers is a test of a far greater nature. “We’re from Philly and we fight!” clashes with the spectre of “They’re from Philly and they quit!” It’s a moment I’d looked forward to for three years. Anticipated and dreaded. The moment these Eagles face the San Francisco 49ers. The moment of truth.
The 49ers are also a team with post season aspirations, and they also have an emotional leader at the running back position by the name of Frank Gore. Gore is not a name Eagles fans or players would be wise to overlook or underestimate. But he is also not a player who is easily forgotten either. Gore usually makes huge statements with his ability to shred opposing defenses for huge gains, and much like our own LeSean McCoy, tends to get better as the game progresses. But sometimes he makes statements with more than his legs.
The teams last met in 2011, also on week four of that NFL season, but on that occasion the game was played in Philadelphia. The final score was 24-23, but the game was a tale of two different halves. In the first half, the Eagles took a 20-3 lead, but watched in horror as the 49ers roared back in the second half to win 24-23 on the strength of Frank Gore’s 127 yard 1 touchdown performance. The signs of future problems were apparent in that game’s statistics. Alex Henery missed two potentially game winning field goals in the second half of 33 and 39 yards. The game continued a three game streak of the Eagles going scoreless in the fouth quarter, all resulting in losses. The Eagles appeared to be in command, and then appeared to be at a loss. It was a tough game to watch, it was tougher to read about the next day.
But the coup de grace of the Eagles embarrassment happened after the game as reporters interviewed Gore and asked his assessment of what factors enabled the 49ers to win in such a come from behind manner. His answer was like a dagger plunged into the hearts of every passionate Eagles fan everywhere:
“I think playing that second half and the way we came out, the Eagles didn’t want to play no more,” Gore said in an interview on ESPN’s First Take.“We just kept pounding and kept pounding and making plays and we kind of knocked the fight out of them,”
I remember the exact feeling as I read those words. As I held the newspaper, I could feel my hands clenching automatically. I could feel the blood drain from my face and my throat suddenly go dry. I recall the sudden urge to yell at the dirty so and so who said that my team quit in the second half of a very winnable football game. I remember the realization that the Eagles were now a one win and three loss team and all hopes of playoffs in 2011 were fading like starlight on the dawn of a new day. Finally, I recall the doubt that sprang into my mind. Could he be right?
The post game hype was overblown. The sports media grabbed the story of “David Akers Gets Revenge” on the team that let him go angle and ran with it all over the headlines, ignoring the multiple attempts by Philadelphia to extend or sign him to a new contract. Despite kicking three field goals, the press was keen to point out that Akers replacement, Henery, missed two very-makeable kicks which could have won the game for the Eagles.
Following the game, the San Francisco 49ers went on to place atop the NFC with a 13-3 record, while the Eagles stumbled until a four game winning streak got them to an 8-8 mark. But the teams intersected at a point where the west coast team was solidly on the upswing, while the east coast team was just as solidly on the downturn.
Three years later, it is a very different pairing of teams. On this occasion, the Eagles have been focussing on the fundamentals, on solid tackling, on the basic football tasks and have trained to a point where they are no longer questioned about their commitment on the field.
There are no faux pas statements by these Eagles to lend themselves to ridicule by other players from other teams. There are no players left on the Eagles roster who brag about what they will do anymore, merely a team of players who downplay what they have done in the realization that it is nowhere near enough yet. There are no more excuses for this team. Ultimately, there are no more hiding places for these Eagles. In the words of their head coach,Chip Kelly, on the strategy of putting starters in the game against Minnesota when the following week’s game at Dallas would decide who would win the division:
“Very simply. We’re from Philadelphia and we fight. That’s it. If there’s a game on, we’re playing, end of story. All this stuff with backing in, not worry about things. I have no idea. So many different scenarios, could have been a tie. What if there’s a tie when we go play Dallas next week and we gave a game away last week. If we are going to lineup and kickoff, and you tell us what time to show up and we will be there.”
The game is September 28, 2014. The time has yet to be decided. What is at stake? Pride to the nth degree. The heart of every Eagles fan bled a little green when they read the thoughts of Frank Gore. Yes, we respect him and his skills. But it was crystal clear in that post game interview that his respect for the Eagles was at an all time low.
Karma. That is what we are counting on. What goes around comes around. Each game in 2014 is very special. But for me? That game on the west coast is a little extra special for me. The Eagles lost a little swagger, manhood, and pride to those San Francisco 49ers. I, for one, would like to see this team take it back, by force if necessary. #EaglesfanscantforgetFrankGoresaidwequit #makeGoreTapout.