Last Sunday, the Eagles and their fans embarked on a “3-hour tour” (as they used to say on Gilligan’s Island) which turned out to be a roller coaster ride that swung across virtually every gamut of emotions.
On two separate occasions, it looked like the Cowboys were on the verge of losing, yet both times, Dallas managed to keep the game alive, which eventually made the difference in a 24-23 victory over the Redskins.
With Washington holding a 23-14 lead approx. midway through the 4th quarter, and the Cowboys faced with a 4th & 6 at the Redskins 40, quarterback Tony Romo completed a 20-yard pass across the middle to keep the drive alive.
More importantly, it looked like a Cowboys loss was imminent after Dallas went from a 2nd & goal at the 1 to a 4th & goal from the 10 with only 1:16 left to play. Instead, Romo found DeMarco Murray at the 2 yard line, and, with just enough momentum to carry him into the end zone, kept the Cowboys alive for at least one more week.
Eagles fans, jubilant at the thought of clinching the division on Sunday night against the Bears when the Cowboys faced 4th & goal, must have felt as if their “buzz” turned into a hangover almost instantaneously, with the knowledge that last Sunday’s game suddenly did not mean nearly as much. Now, the Eagles had to win at Dallas no matter what happened last Sunday night at the Linc. And later we found out that it was Chicago who had everything to play for, while the only advantage the Eagles could gain was for seeding purposes…which only holds importance IF the Eagles win this Sunday.
But it was the Birds who played as if everything depended on the game, while the Bears looked like THEY were the ones who rested their starters and trotted out a high school junior varsity team as replacement players.
Chicago looked disinterested, disheveled, and just plain discombobulated, and by the middle of the 3rd quarter, Eagles fans, while enjoying the offensive prowess of their team, still held their collective breath, hoping, PRAYING, that LeSean McCoy or Nick Foles would not lay motionless on the field because of an injury that would take more than a week’s recovery time.
Perhaps it was to remove the bad taste out of their mouth after last week’s loss to the Vikings. Perhaps coach Chip Kelly, after watching his team practice to play a meaningful game, wanted to give them the chance to do so. Or perhaps it was to gain a #3 instead of a #4 seed, which the Eagles will capture if they win their division come Sunday night.
There is validity to that argument. While both the #3 & #4 seeds play at home in the 1st round and on the road in the 2nd (assuming they win their first game), the #3 seed, in theory, plays the worse of the two wild card teams. Win that game, and you go on the road to play the 2nd best team in your conference and not the first (again, in theory).
By holding the #3 seed, the Eagles would currently play the New Orleans Saints (an awful road team) at home in the 1st round as opposed to the San Francisco 49ers, who are more adept at playing on the road outdoors. Win that game, and the Birds would currently go on the road to Carolina in the 2nd round (a very winnable game) as opposed to going to Seattle and its “Monsters of Rock” concert decibel level at CenturyLink Field.
Make it to the NFC championship, and the Birds could play at home if the #4 or #5 seed also advanced that far. Start the playoffs as the 4th seed instead, and you have to hope that the #6 seed advanced just as far (not very likely) to have that same opportunity.
Sure, I’m getting ahead of myself, as the Eagles first need to win this Sunday, but why not dream a little with the way this season is going?
As for Dallas, Santa dropped a lump of coal into the Cowboys playoff stocking, when it was discovered that QB Tony Romo may be out for the game (and for an extended period of time) with a herniated disk. But while all the “Romo-sexuals” (the Tony Romo supporters) may be crying in their eggnog at hearing such news, the Eagles would do well not to relax and take this game lightly.
While Cowboys backup Kyle Orton may not be as elusive as Romo, he also may not have the “chokability” (is that a word?) of Romo either, who has gone 1-6 in playoff and regular season elimination games. ..nothing to write home about.
With the Eagles offense as potent as it is, if the defense can hold the Cowboys to 21-24 points, there is no reason they shouldn’t win this game and become NFC East champions for the 1st time in three years. As long as the Eagles remember the Vikings game from two weeks back and don’t plan to sleepwalk through it…
Birds win 35-20 Sunday night and Birds fans will be singing “Fly Eagles Fly” in Old City, Rittenhouse Square, the Graduate Hospital area, and of course, Frankford & Cottman…
Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless otherwise noted):
Ravens at Bengals 1:00 PM CBS – The Bengals have won the AFC North and have an outside shot at a bye. The Ravens need a win and a partridge in a pear tree to make the playoffs. A game still meaningful for both teams…
Niners at Cardinals 4:25 PM FOX – Had the 49ers lost to the Falcons on Monday night, this game would have been, essentially, a playoff game for both teams. Instead, the Niners are already in the playoffs, with a chance to get a bye, and possibly home field advantage as well, for which they will need three French hens & two turtle doves along with a partridge in a pear tree. The Cardinals need a win and have to hope that Tampa can pull off an upset in New Orleans…otherwise, the Cardinals could end up 11-5 or 10-6 and be watching the playoffs at home in the land of the cactus.
Packers at Bears 4:25 PM FOX – For the Bears sake, hopefully they can snap out of their sleepwalk just in time to get up for this regular season winner-takes-all game against the Pack, who might have Aaron Rodgers back and could make a deep run in the playoffs as the #4 seed. If that is the case, I’ll be singing “I’mmmmm dreaming, of an Eagles-Packers championship…just like the one in 1960″….
Eagles at Cowboys 8:30 PM NBC – Based on comments they made during last week’s Eagles-Bears Sunday night game, the NBC broadcasting duo of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth seem to have a “bro-mance” going with Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. Or maybe it was the oversized picture of the Phillie Phanatic used to send in offensive signals that had them smiling? Either way, they both do a great job, though I will always defer to putting down the sound and putting on Merrill Reese and Mike Quick on the Eagles radio network…It’s GOOOOOD!
The Last Word – From the crack staff and research department here at “As Broad & Pattison Turns” (namely, me), I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, & Season’s Greetings (the “trifecta” of famous December phrases). And to celebrate, I leave you with a Christmas jingle sung to the tune of Wham’s “Last Christmas”:
Last Christmas, the Eagles were lousy,
And the very next day, they fired Andy,
This year, to save us from tears,
I’d give the ball to someone like Shady,
Yes, I’m a dork I know…and to all a good night…