Monday, January 12, 2009

Fly Eagles Fly

The stars are lining up for this team.

A few weeks ago, they were a longshot to make the playoffs. Now they are favored to win the NFC Championship game and make a trip to the Superbowl. After the biggest win of the Andy Reid era yesterday, on the road against a #1 seed, the Eagles have a clear path to their first Lombardi trophy.

I'm the first one to kill McNabb when he sucks, so I'm quick to point out that he played like a champ yesterday. The stats don't look like much, but on the road against that defense, in those weather conditions, without a running game to speak of...what he did was Brady-like. He converted 3rd-and-20 in the shadow of his own goalposts and converted a 3rd-and-10 on the same drive. For the game, he helped the Birds to a 50% conversion rate on 3rd down. On a day where the reigning Super Bowl MVP was wobbling the ball into defenders' hands, McNabb was delivering perfect deep throws (Curtis dropped one, remember?) and perfect third-down strikes. He was under a ton of pressure, but when he had time, he made just about every throw. Not a single ball was bounced at the feet of a receiver.

The defense was so good, so worthy of a championship team, that there's almost nothing to say. At the beginning of the season, I said the Eagles could have a dominating took a long time to come together, but finally they are playing at that level. They have not given up more than 14 points since Thanksgiving. Patterson and Bunkley are playing like Pro Bowlers, Samuel has been worth every penny of that $55 million, and the young LBs are coming up huge. The tackling yesterday was superb - at least five times the Giants threw short of the line on third down, and the Eagles were forced to make a one-on-one tackle to prevent the first, and they came through every time.

Kudos also to Andy Reid, who for the second week in a row, stuck with an underperforming running game. Westbrook has never had stats like this in his career: 20 carries for 38 yards, 18 carries for 36 yards, because Reid would never continue running the ball for two yards/carry before. But you can see the benefits clearly when he that works down at the goalline, a QB with time to throw, and an opposing defense that looks tired in the fourth quarter.

Arizona is suddenly playing great football, on defense as well as offense, but somehow I just can't work up a fright about playing them...especially not after crushing the Super Bowl champs in a wind-whipped Meadowlands. Bring on the Cards!


At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point on Samuel, Sweet Tea. Whoever made the move to bring him on board looks like a freaking genius now. He's been a huge contributor to the defensive heroics of late.

I expect Phila. mortgage brokers to be VERY busy next Monday as tons of Eagles faithful refi their houses or get 2nd mortgages to shuffle off to Tampa.

As soon as I finish my math quiz I'll figger out my position on the Steelers-Ravens game. If the Baltimore defense is as banged up as I hear, I like Pitt's chances. If both defenses are healthy, it's a coin toss.


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