The Eagles

The Eagles

Botched Hand-Off Cost Birds In Wild Shoot Out


The Eagles Cowboys game last night was one of the entertaining games I have ever witnessed. In this crazy battle there were 78 total points scored, 7 lead changes, a fumble recovered for a TD, a 51 yard field goal, a kick return for a touchdown, a touchdown tossed away by a rookie WR, a 72 yard bomb for a touchdown, lots of controversial calls, and enough drama to keep you on the edge of your seat all game long.

Looking at this game from an Eagles fans perspective, I can’t help but feel the game was there for the taking. The final three Eagles possessions did them in, and it was just a very frustrating finish to such an exciting game.

I will write about what I saw, and try to not to rant too much about how pissed off I am right now.

I hate Sean Considine: On 3rd and long Tony Romo threw a 72 yard bomb to Terrell Owens for a big statement touchdown for the Cowboys. How did TO get so wide open on the play? Owens ran a double move, and safety scrub Sean Considine bit on a Tony Romo pump fake which allowed Owens to streak past him for an easy score.

Considine is absolutely terrible. I don’t understand how he is still on the team, and it is mind boggling that he is actually getting playing time with the defense. This bum gets picked on every time he steps on the field.

Sean does not have top end speed, and lacks the ideal muscle mass and athleticism to be a very physical safety. His strength was said to be football IQ, but after this play I have serious doubts about that. Mental errors like that give me flash backs of Michael Lewis in 2006. Ironically Lewis was benched in favor of the young “smart” safety from Iowa.

Outside of this big play, the Eagles did a pretty good job of containing TO. When you look for people to place blame for this loss on, the first guy you should point to is number 37 Sean Considine.

Defense should feel embarrassed: I hope the D does feel embarrassed, because I sure do. Prior to the game, I praised Jim Johnson’s scheme from last years 10-6 victory over Dallas, and I felt the Eagles would ride the defense to victory.

Boy was I wrong.

The Cowboys had one big play after another. A Terrell Owens bomb started things off by getting past everyone for the score, he caught a short touchdown in a mismatch in the 2nd quarter, and late in the game he drew a pass interference penalty from Pro Bowl CB Asante Samuel.

Marion Barber struggled early on, and I credit the Eagles defense there. The Cowboys stuck with the run though, and wore down the Eagles front seven. Holes started forming, and Barber began breaking tackles, making guys look stupid(Omar Gaither). By the 4th quarter Barber was gashing the Eagles on the ground, and the defense was completely on it’s heels.

The biggest problem the Eagles had was covering Jason Witten. In fact I don’t think they covered him all game. When the Cowboys needed a first down, or a big play Witten was the go-to guy. I know he is a great player, but there has to be at least one player on the defense who can stay with this guy. Witten was able to hurt the Eagles in man, in zone, when they blitzed, and when they kept guys back.

Witten lead the Cowboys in receiving with 7 catches for 110 yards.

This might lose me an interview with one of my all time favorite Eagles, but Brian Dawkins looked very slow. He made a few very nice plays, but there were multiple times were he just looked old. Jason Witten in particular really made Dawk look bad. I wonder if that is why Considine is seeing the field on obvious passing downs?

Stewart Bradley followed his great game against the Rams, by having a very poor one against Dallas. Coverage seemed to be an issue with Bradley, as he could not keep up with Jason Witten or Marion Barber. One play that stood out to me was a dump off pass to Barber in the middle of the field. Bradley was in position to possible wrap up Barber for a short gain, but he lost his balance when Barber cut and fell to the ground. Barber was able to pick up the first down, and i think that play gave Jason Garrett the idea of trying to isolate Barber and Bradley on passing play. They did this five plays later, and the result was a touchdown.

The defensive line was very disappointing. They did not sack Tony Romo at all, and did not pressure him very often. When they did get pressure it came from overloading blitzes which Dallas exploited very well. Trent Cole did not seem to bring it like he usually does, the defensive tackles were getting lots of double teams, and there was maybe two good plays from the other defensive end spot. As far as I know Juqua Parker is not injured, and he was left out of most of the snaps in favor of Darren Howard.

Overall the defense was very bad, but they did do a few things right.

Great pressure by Trent Cole and Darren Howard forced a scared Tony Romo into throwing an ill advised interception to Asante Samuel. It was one of the few times they got pressure, and the result was a turnover.

The defense also scored a touchdown when the ball simply slipped out of Tony Romo’s hands twice in his own endzone. That play gave me flash backs of the botched snap that lost the Cowboys a playoff game to the Seahawks in 2006.

Late in the game the defense was able to get a big 3-and-out, to give the offense a final shot at winning the game.

Not so special teams: Trying to cover a kickoff was a nightmare for the Birds. Felix Jones broke a 98 yard touchdown on his second kick return, and all game he gave the Cowboys great field position. Special teams was a something the Eagles focused on improving in the off season, but their coverage units did not show this last night.

When you lose the battle of field position, you are likely to lose the football game.

I hate NFL referees: Let me start this by saying I am not blaming the refs for the Eagles losing the game. The Cowboys outplayed the Eagles, and were the better team that night.

With that said, the refs were brutal! Look at some of these calls:

  • On the first Eagles drive DeSean Jackson had a catch, and fumble that was recovered in the endzone for a touchdown. The refs ruled the pass was incomplete, and they got it wrong. You have to put some blame here on Andy Reid for not challenging the play.
  • It seemed like the Cowboys almost always tackled Brian Westbrook by grabbing his face mask. I counted at least 6 face masks by Dallas, and only two were actually called.
  • What a ticky-tack personal foul call on Trent Cole. The player across from him has a false start, and Cole bull rushes him as the whistle was being blown. How is Cole not supposed to hold up when he is taught to “explode” off the ball or in this case when the opposing player moves. That was an awful call, and it lead to a Cowboys touchdown instead of setting the Cowboys back.
  • Speaking of Trent Cole, did anybody notice what happened to him on the long TO touchdown? Flozell Adams had his hands pushing the bottom of Cole’s face mask. You can see it very well in a still shot that ESPN showed of the play. It looked like he tried to take Cole’s head off, and should have nullified the big play.
  • How do the refs call that a ball was tipped, and then later say it wasn’t tipped. What was going on there? I don’t even care that they actually ended up with the correct call, because it is annoying having such indecisive refs. Make a call, and stick with it.

To be fair there were some really bad calls that went the Eagles way too.

  • That pass interference call on Roy Williams should have been on Greg Lewis. Lewis clearly grabbed the jersey, and pulled him to the ground. It is pretty unbelievable that they got that one wrong, because the guy who made the call was right there.
  • The Cowboys got screwed on the DeSean Jackson would be score turned fumble. If the play had been called correctly on the field, Dallas would have recovered the ball for a fumble. Once they blow the play dead, you can’t give the ball to the Cowboys, but at the same time Jackson fumbled before the endzone. I think that play was so dumb on DeSean’s part that even the rule book could not make any sense of it, and the ball winds up on the one.
  • It looked like Hank Baskett held Roy Williams on the screen pass that Brian Westbrook ran in for a touchdown. This hold gave Westbrook the edge, and I am surprised it was not called.

A rookie boneheaded mistake: DeSean Jackson threw away his first NFL touchdown. It was a great job of him to get past the Dallas secondary, but you have to actually cross the line before you start to celebrate. This was such a stupid, huge mistake by DeSean. The only play I can even remember being this dumb was when Plaxico Burress spiked a live football(actually he did this twice). He is extremely lucky that the Eagles were able to keep the football, and score on the very next play. If the call was made correctly, fans would be ripping him a new one.

I can only hope this mistake will teach Jackson a lesson, and he can forget about even doing stupid celebrations. When your mind is thinking about the celebration this much, you lose focus, and start the celebrating before you finish the play.

There is no denying this kids talent, and I think he will be a huge addition to this offense, but this was another embarrassing play for the Birds. You can bet this play will be on the bloopers highlight reel for a long time.

Jamaal Jackson: What a terrible game for Jackson. He was too slow to get out on screens, he got beat numerous times one-on-one, and his blitz pick up was very shotty. To me he looks like he is physically not in the best condition. There were reports that he spent time with a personal trainer in the off season, but I don’t think he spent enough time with him.

A Crucial Mistake: The play that swung the game was the bad exchange of the football between Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb. Donovan McNabb appeared to be confused on what play the Eagles were running, and made a major mistake. First the play looked like a play action pass, as McNabb fake the hand off to Westbrook, but then after the fake McNabb tried to then hand the ball to Brian who was not expecting it. The ball hit the ground, and Jay Ratliff of the Cowboys recovered it.

"McNabb put the blame squarely on his own shoulders. “I went.. kinda looked at the flanker to try to sell it(the play fake) a little bit, (I) put the ball on Brian’s hip which lead to a fumble. So that definitely was totally all my fault.”"

This was an absolute killer because the Eagles had the lead, and were driving to potentially put the game away. At worst they were in field goal range, and would have been able to go up 6. Instead they got nothing, while Dallas got the ball and scored to go up 41-37. That would be the final score, and this untimely miscue was a colossal blunder.

I hate Tony Kornheiser: Listening to Tony Kornheiser is like a slow painful death. I would rather listen to finger nails scratching a chalk board, than hear this annoying moron. He doesn’t know football at all, he always says stupid things in a lame attempt at being controversial, and he is just a dumb bozo. Hearing him slobber all over Jerry Jones sausage was also very annoying.

From now on I am muting my TV, and listening to the radio broadcast of any Monday Night Football game.

Crow Sandwich: I must take my lumps here, because I know I can’t talk smack and hide. The Cowboys were the better team last night, and they played a great game. In an interview with The Landry Hat, I predicted a low scoring Eagles win, with the defense being the key. It turned out to be the exact opposite, and I was proven wrong.

I also ripped Zach Thomas bad, and he had a very good game for Dallas. He sniffed out screens, made some nice tackles supporting the run, and even had a very nice pass deflection covering L.J. Smith.

Silver Lining: Despite the disappointing ending, the Birds’ put up a good fight against a very talented team. The Cowboys walk away with the victory, but the Eagles have something they can build on.

The offense moved the ball pretty well most of the game, and was able to score a lot of points. The defense has to play better, but some of those mistakes are correctable. The Eagles were expected by many to get blown out by Dallas, and instead it was a NFC East classic dog fight.

The Eagles are very capable of beating Dallas, and I think there is a very good chance that both of these teams meet again in the Playoffs.

News and Notes:

  • Shawn Andrews left the game with a back injury, and had an MRI today. So far no word, but the Eagles will likely update his status tomorrow.
  • Jason Witten separated his shoulder in the first half, and still had a huge game. That says a lot about how tough Witten is, and how good he is.
  • Has anybody seen L.J. Smith? I don’t think he even found his way to Dallas.