Many prognosticators looked at last week’s opening day tilt between the Eagles and Redskins and felt that the Birds might be a little rusty in the first half. Unfortunately, no one predicted that the Redskins would come out looking like a well-oiled machine that could move up and down the field at will.
Before the charcoal grills in the parking lot had even begun to cool from all the pregame tailgating, the Birds were already down 7-0, and it did not get any better from there.
The ‘Skins tacked on a field goal, and a 69-yard bomb from Case Keenum to wide receiver Terry McLaurin had the visitors from the nation’s capital up 17-0 with just under 10 minutes left in the 2nd quarter.
Save for a Wentz to DeSean Jackson touchdown pass, the Birds were down 20-7 at halftime, and the natives were already starting to get restless.
When the Eagles struggle in the 1st half at home, it is usually the halftime entertainment that suffers the wrath of the disgruntled fan, and last Sunday was no different.
The Eagles had hired an artist to render a painting at halftime, and fans could be heard yelling comments such as:
1) “THIS is the halftime entertainment?”.
2) “Wonder what Jeff Lurie is paying for this?”
3) “This is as bad as the Eagles”.
Even when the artist was finished, no one in the stands could make out exactly what he was rendering. That is, of course, till he turned his painting around to reveal a beautifully drawn Eagle.
The irony was that for most of the first half, no one could figure out what the Eagles of the football variety were doing either. But they turned it around in the 2nd half, scoring 24 unanswered points before Washington scored a meaningless touchdown with six seconds left when the game was no longer in doubt.
In the 2nd half, the Birds showed flashes of what we thought they were, as the Redskins reverted back to what we thought they were as well, which is mediocrity at its finest. The 32-27 victory, though too close for comfort to start, was a good win in what will be a tough first half of their season.
This week, the Eagles travel to Atlanta to take on another type of bird for the Sunday night NBC game. But while the Eagles have soared over the last few years, it is the Falcon that has had its wings clipped more often than not.
Three seasons ago, the Falcons were on the verge of defeating New England and winning their first ever Super Bowl. That is, until Atlanta’s offensive coaches tried to outsmart themselves, and the Patriots came back from a 25 point deficit to win, which became the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
While we all remember fondly the Eagles 2017 Super Bowl winning season and the great win over the Patriots, the “Philly-Philly” play, etc., it was actually the Falcons who came the closest to beating us that postseason.
Atlanta had a 4th & Goal at the 2 in the final minute of the game when an incomplete pass to Julio Jones gave the Birds a divisional playoff victory at home. If Julio catches that pass, the curse of the Eagles never winning a Super Bowl most likely lingers on today.
Instead, it is Atlanta who is still trying to climb to the mountaintop for the first time in its history. The Falcons had an injury riddled 2018, and finished with a 7-9 record to show for it. And when they were soundly defeated by Minnesota last week 28-12 (including being down 28-0 at one point), many wondered if the Falcons were for real.
If Atlanta loses this game, they will be down 0-2 and the rest of this season will be an uphill climb for local Philadelphia native and Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. The Falcons not only have the advantage of playing at home this week in a dome, but it will be their home opener and they want to show their fans that they are for real, especially after last week’s drubbing.
The Eagles are definitely the better team in my opinion. But the better team does not always win. For that reason, I think the Eagles keep it close but lose 28-27, especially with their suspect secondary.
But all is not lost. The Birds should still have a successful season barring major injuries. And who knows…believe it or not, the predictions of “Nostra-damit” have been proven wrong before. 😉
Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all games on Sunday and in EST unless noted otherwise):
Colts at Titans 1:00 PM CBS
Seahawks at Steelers 1:00 PM FOX
Vikings at Packers 1:00 PM FOX
Saints at Rams 4:25 PM FOX