Eagles Lose: Magic Number Is Two


Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) eludes Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Trent Cole (58) on a pass play in the fourth quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings win 48-30. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

On a day where the NFL seemed to go off script, the Philadelphia Eagles seemed powerless to deflect the hocus pocus of the Minnesota Vikings.  The Eagles had a five game winning streak, and on Sunday afternoon faced a Vikings team without its star running back:  Adrian Peterson.   The Birds are playing for a division title, and had every reason to play hard.

On this day, LeSean McCoy set a new career high in rushing (a mere 38 for a league leading 1,343 yards) and DeSean Jackson had 195 receiving yards.   Still, it was the defense that grabbed the headlines.    Allowing Minnesota Viking’s quarterback Matt Cassell to resemble Houdini, the Birds surrendered 382 yards of passing offense to a Vikings team that was playing for pride alone.   To add insult to injury, the Eagles allowed only 51 yards on 30 carries to third string running back Matt Asiata, but 3 of those carries resulted in touchdowns.  When the final gun sounded, the Birds were trounced 48-30.

The Birds had no magic on this Sunday.   They were playing in a dome on the road, and were facing a team that seemed to be out of the running and running dangerously short of healthy players.   It was a recipe for a sixth straight victory.   But someone forgot to add the secret ingredient – “runthatdamnedball” dust.   So by the end of the game, McCoy had only carried the ball eight times (Zach Ertz was targeted with 9 passes), and Philly’s hopes at a division title fell like a cake when an oven door is slammed.

It was clear that Bill Davis committed the defense to stop the run, in an attempt to force Cassel to win the game with his throwing arm.  Cassel did just that.   Carving up the Birds like a turkey, Cassell found six different receiver with precision accuracy.  Cassell was so deadly accurate, the Vikings only had to send out their punter twice.   He pulled off first downs with the ease of a magician pulling rabbits out of hats.  The results were just as mystifying, leaving broadcasters and fans wondering how he was doing that…

Had the Eagles won the game, they would merely need one more victory or a Dallas defeat to clinch the NFC East.   Their magic number is two.   Any combination of two wins by the Eagles or losses by the Cowboys – who lost a heart-breaker in the closing minutes thanks to two Tony Romo interceptions.   However, if the Eagles lose next Sunday to the Chicago Bears and Dallas defeats the Washington Redskins, the final game will likely be a “winner take all”.   Dallas has lost to both the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins in consecutive years in the last game, and with today’s performance it appears that will certainly be the stakes when the Eagles face them to close out the season.

The team may have just had a bad game, or this may be a sign of overconfidence.   But with two very important games remaining, it was difficult to watch the defense show so little against a team that had so few offensive weapons and even less to play for.    This team has had some magical plays this year.   To have a chance at post season, they will need to rediscover that magic – before their playoff chances disappear.