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Old 02-07-2005, 04:42 AM   #16
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Eagles had chances, but made too many errors
Bob Glauber

February 7, 2005

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Three interceptions by Donovan McNabb. Not enough juice from Brian Westbrook. Horrendous clock management late in the game by Andy Reid. Outguessed and outblocked.

Any more questions about why the Eagles couldn't beat the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots?

The Eagles talked a good game all week about how the Patriots were beatable and about how they were ready to become the first team in franchise history to win a Super Bowl. But in the end, poor performances by nearly all the critical players and coaches doomed the Eagles in last night's 24-21 loss at Alltel Stadium.

McNabb could have had twice as many picks as he did.

Westbrook had 44 yards rushing and 60 receiving, and needed twice that much for the Eagles to have a chance. Reid was calling plays as if it were the first quarter when the Eagles were trailing by 10 points with less than four minutes to play in the fourth. And the Eagles' blitz-happy defense was negated by New England's superior blocking from its offensive line and running backs.

Put it all together, and the suffering continues for the city of Philadelphia, which hasn't won an NFL title since 1960. The Eagles are 0-for-2 in Super Bowls, having lost to the Raiders in Super Bowl XV after the 1980 season.

The only guy who showed up for the Eagles was Terrell Owens, who played with two screws in his right ankle and against the better judgment of his surgeon. Seven weeks after suffering torn ankle ligaments and a broken fibula, Owens was the best player on the field for the Eagles, making nine catches for 122 yards.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, his teammates and coaches didn't perform up to those standards.

Once again, Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his trusted defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel, came up with a unique twist in the game plan to contain McNabb. Rather than use the 3-4 alignment with three down linemen and four linebackers, the Patriots switched to a 2-5, with two linemen and five linebackers.

"We tried to get as much pass rush as we could," Belichick said. "We knew chasing him around all day would be a tough proposition, so we tried to match up our best pass rushers."

The net result: McNabb was under duress throughout, and forced many of his passes. McNabb, one of the NFL's best scramblers, rarely got out of the pocket to buy time. Three of his four sacks came in the first half; he was intercepted once in the first half and twice in the second.

"This game could have been a blowout [for the Eagles]," McNabb said. "You take away those three interceptions, and we're probably up two or three touchdowns. But that's woulda, shoulda, coulda. Give them the credit."

The Eagles tried to get Westbrook involved, but the Patriots' alignment helped shut him down. By keeping so many linebackers on the field, Westbrook had some space to work with, but not as much as he would have liked. Often covered by linebacker Tedy Bruschi, but also shadowed by linebackers Mike Vrabel and Ted Johnson, Westbrook's effectiveness was limited. He did score a touchdown on a 10-yard pass with 3:35 to play in the third quarter, tying the game at 14-14. But he was not the impact player the Eagles had hoped for.

Westbrook's longest play from scrimmage was a 22-yard run, but that was on the final play of the first half. He had just 22 yards on his other 14 carries.

As for Reid's curious decision not to use the hurry-up offense late in the game, his explanation was just as mystifying.

"Well, we were trying to hurry up," he said. "It was the way things worked out."

Huh?

When your team is down by two scores with less than four minutes to play, how can you not go to the hurry-up? But the Eagles continued to huddle until just over two minutes to play. They finally scored on McNabb's 30-yard pass to Greg Lewis, who ran a post route, with 1:48 to play.

They then attempted an onside kick that was recovered by the Patriots.

The Eagles did get the ball back, but were pinned at their 4-yard line with 46 seconds left. Three plays later, McNabb was picked off by Harrison.

"I just look at those three interceptions," McNabb said. "I don't look at any of the touchdowns or anything else, just those interceptions. As a quarterback, you want to make sure you take care of the ball. The turnovers kill you."

The Eagles weren't much better on defense. They punished teams all year with an assortment of blitzes. Yesterday, the Patriots withstood the onslaught with terrific blocking schemes that gave Tom Brady plenty of time. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is one of the brightest coaches in the game, but this day, the advantage belonged to Charlie Weis, the Patriots' offensive coordinator who is headed to Notre Dame.

This day belonged to the Patriots. The Eagles? Second place will have to do.
Copyright 2005, Newsday, Inc.
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Old 02-07-2005, 08:49 AM   #17
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Well the game played out just as I had thought. I figured it would be a pretty close game overall, but never really to the point where New England was in real "trouble". The two things I was very surpsied by were....

1)McNabb- I know he had good numbers, but man alive, he played horrible. He looked like Brunell on a good chunk of his plays, just running around and then throwing it striaght into the ground or into defenders hands. I think part of it is the fact that they barley ran the ball. I think they could use a new brusing back to go w/ Westbrook, because he's not a very good straight running back. He's an exellent weapon, reciving out of the backfeild, but he cant run the ball overly well. I was suprised how early they started passing.

2) T.O.- I'm a big T.O. "hater" but I have you give this guy a ton of respect. He was right. I was never on the board that he shouldnt play; because I mean its the Super Bowl, but I never thought he would get more than like 2 catches for 15 yards. He played very admireably, and deserves credit for that.
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Old 02-07-2005, 09:18 AM   #18
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McNabb needed to have a great game for the Eagles to win, and unfortunately for them he only had a good game.

Philly definitely needs a running game to support McNabb. 51 attempts for any QB in the Super Bowl is not a good thing.
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Old 02-07-2005, 03:32 PM   #19
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One thing I took from it: Man do I LOVE seeing #5 go down! Most recent SB's I've picked a "favorite", but really didn't care who won. This one though....rooting against the Eagles is very easy!!!
In a nutshell, Philly seemed over their heads a little, where the Patriots were business as usual....they were patient and didn't panic after a slow start and falling behind. They just always find a way to win.
It will be VERY interesting to see how they do the next year or two after losing both Weiss and Crennell...
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