Eagles Go Down Swinging
By Zachary Best
The Eagles fought to the end, but in the end they wind up on the losing to the still undefeated New England Patriots, 31-28. The Birds were actually 24 point dogs going into this game, and nobody thought(even me) that they had any shot of winning this game against New England. Nobody except the team. They came in with a great game plan, and out to prove to the world that they could hang with the best team in the NFL.
This game was a great David vs Goliath battle. The national televised game, is easily one of the best games this season. Even though the Eagles lost, this game will become an instant classic.(ITI will get the game up soon as possible)
A.J. Feeley made two very critical mistakes that were the difference in the game. On the first pass of the game, he had a poorly thrown ball that was intercepted by Asante Samuel, and returned for a touch down.
The Eagles were down, but not out. They knew that there was a lot of football to be played, and they hung in there.
On the following drive, the Eagles offense opened up. With good protection Feeley was able to carve apart the Patriots defense, and get the ball to his receivers. The Eagles converted three 3rd-downs on the drive, and even went for it on a 4th-and-inches. The call was a QB sneak, and worked out great. The 14 play drive was capped off with a leaping Brian Westbrook, for a one yard touch down.
This drive set the tempo for the game, and let New England know that the Eagles were not going to just roll over, and die. There would be no running up the score in this match up.
The defense still had a very tough time defending the high powered Patriots offense, but they did do many things well. Jim Johnson mixed up the defensive looks, and surprisingly went with a three man line for most of the game. This defensive formation was put in to match up with the Pats shotgun spread offense, and to hopefully confuse Tom Brady.
Brady still had a pretty big day, but the Birds D did sack him three times. They also hit him several more times, and disrupted many throws. Randy Moss was contained very well with safety help, but this left other guys open over the middle. Wes Welker had a huge game, catching 13 passes for 149 yards.
The Eagles game plan was to constantly mix things up, but always make sure that there are no big plays deep. In his first start at Strong Safety, J.R. Reed did a heckuva job filling in for the injured Quinton Mikell.
The Eagles linebackers had a great game too. Chris Gocong, Omar Gaither, and Takeo Spikes made plays all game. Gocong got his first career sack, and the first sack by an Eagles linebacker all season. Gaither did a good job in coverage, as he defended a few passes. Gaither also lead the team in tackles. Takeo Spikes had a great hurry on Tom Brady, and had a tremendous tackle up ending RB Kevin Faulk.
The offense played great as a unit. The protection was very good for majority of the game, and that was key to Feeley’s success. Despite the turnovers, Feeley had a great game. He had 345 yards, 3 tds, and successfully converted many difficult 3rd downs. Andy Reid has already squashed any potential QB controversy, by saying that a healthy Donovan McNabb will be the starter.
The receivers also stepped it up very big. Nobody more than Greg Lewis. Lewis grabbed four catches for 88 yards, and two huge touch downs. Reggie Brown, L.J. Smith, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, and Hank Baskett all contributed with some nice catches.
Surprisingly Brian Westbrook was not a huge part of the game plan. The Eagles passed most of the game, and Westbrook had limited touches. He did of course make a few bad plays into good ones, by breaking a few ankles in the game.
Andy Reid, and Jim Johnson did an excellent job of coaching. Reid made gutsy calls, and really had a great game plan for the Pats. In a very aggressive fashion, Reid went for a 4th and inches early in the first quarter, and had the team kick a surprise onside kick which was successful. Reid’s coaching was great all game, and I was very impressed.
Jim Johnson was also creative in his schemes to disrupt Tom Brady. Many games Brady has a clean white jersey. Johnson made sure that he took some hits early, and often. The defense still could have done many things better, but considering this is the NFL’s best offense ever, I think they did a solid job.
What killed the Birds was the late interception from Feeley. Down three with under four minutes to go, and moving the ball well, A.J. decided to go for it all. The double move route Curtis ran, did not fool Asante Samuel, and He was able to seal the game with the big INT. I can’t kill A.J. for it, because he had played so well.
In the end it still hurt to lose this game. I am not a big fan of moral victories, but I am very proud of the valiant effort put fourth by the Iggles. This game was very winnable, and I can only dream that the get another chance at them. This game actually felt a lot like the Super Bowl. A big battle, a three point loss in the final minutes, a QB who passed a lot, and ended up with 3 INTS.
The players seem to be positive about the loss, and think they can build off this performance. There is no team left on the schedule left, that I am not confident that the Eagles can win now.
The one thing the Eagles did for sure, was make sure that they were not going out without a fight. What can be more Philadelphia than that?