It has ended and what a long, strange trip it has been. The Philadelphia Eagles may have won the battle with the enemy Dallas Cowboys (20-7) but they lost the war. December 24 would become the day the playoff hope died and the beginning of a winter, spring and summer of rampant discontent.
As of their 4:15 EST kickoff in Dallas, the New York Giants were ahead of the New York Jets 20-14 with about 5 minutes left to play. By the waning moments of the first quarter the Eagles held a 7-0 lead over the Cowboys but the scoreboard reported the end of Philadelphia’s already slim playoff hopes.
The final nail in the proverbial coffin came when Sanchez was picked off and the boys in blue knelt down to run out the clock – much to the chagrin of all the boys, girls, men, women and anyone else wearing green. The “visiting” Giants felled the Eagles playoff hopes and maintained their own bragging rights – not to exclude their own postseason promise.
Jets fans retain some slim measure of hope as the ninth overall seed and third in line for the final AFC wildcard spot. As for the Philadelphia Eagles (7-8) despite the victory, they don’t qualify for any chance at a wildcard berth (due to losses against Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and a split with the New York Giants).
Enjoy the win over Dallas Eagles Nation … but better luck next year.
Philadelphia won this week’s game by default, concession and a solid amount of defense, tantamount to lack of interest on Dallas’ part. The proceedings included Trent Cole planting Tony Romo into the turf like a rejected Christmas tree (after Romo injured his hand trying to escape Jason Babin’s wrath) and a secondary playing without Asante Samuel.
Michael Vick threw 2 TD passes (one in the opening series going 80 yards in 8 plays, the second just before halftime for 293 total yards), Tony Romo left after injuring his throwing hand on the first series and oft-injured Dallas RB Felix Jones hit the bench for good after the second series.
Alex Henery kicked field goals of 43 and 51 yards for the Eagles’ only points in the second half. Dallas came within 7 seconds of getting shut out relying on Steven McGee and Sammy Morris to lead their paltry offensive effort (“effort” may be far too strong a word).
This was a team not only playing it safe, but playing dead from the neck up!
Philadelphia (7-8) won its third straight, giving the ersatz “Dream Team’’ the chance to avoid a losing record. Beating the Redskins at home in their finale next weekend would be the second victory over Washington and a 5-1 divisional record (losing once to NY Giants) but the 2011 season is over for Philadelphia fans. The Eagles swept the season series against the Cowboys for the first time since 2006, having clobbered Dallas 34-7 in October (54-14 combined).
The Cowboys (8-7) lost for the third time in four games. If Dallas misses the playoffs, such a post-Thanksgiving flop will loom large all offseason. Should they win the division, it’ll only be a footnote.
The upcoming week will be filled with all sorts of similar high-stakes ramifications riding on the finale for both Dallas and New York. Despite injuries to Felix Jones and Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys will square off against those New York Football Giants with the NFC East title on the line.
Philadelphia now is resigned to playing for pride and retooling for 2012 – the final season in Andy Reid’s contract. Questions abound as to what sorts of coaching changes could be in store as well as draft plans or perhaps additional free agent pursuits. More on these later…
A 2011 Eagles season that began amid a labor lockout, two week free agent feeding frenzy and media mongers taking the phrase “Dream Team” to new levels of exhaustive overhype soon morphed into a 1-4 start. That turned into a 4-8 season due largely to blowing fourth quarter leads in five different games (turnovers, lackadaisical defense, poor in-game adjustment, etc.). Much of the blame fell on Head Coach Andy Reid and his protégé, former offensive-line-coach-turned-defensive-coordinator – Juan Castillo.
In Reid’s 13th season with the Eagles (and Castillo’s 17th) the clamor came for new voices, new offense, new defense, new cheerleader uniforms and probably a new type of Cheez Whiz at the concession stands. Still waiting to see which of those requests are granted and which must wait yet another season.
The good news is that when this Philadelphia Eagles football team plays fundamentally sound, they are a good as any team in the NFL. Patching a few holes and shoring up a scant couple weaknesses among the reserves should make 2012 another season of great expectations – hopefully with far better results.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org