26 December 2005

2005 Week 16 Recap

Eagles at Chiefs, Saturday, December 24, 2005

One more game. One more game until this dismal season is over. And it can't come soon enough. With no hope of a post-season, or even finishing at .500, the only role left to us for New Year's Day is to play spoiler to the 'Skins' playoff hopes (assuming Dallas beats the Rams, which they should - c'mon, we beat the Rams). And frankly, the way we're playing now, that's not likely. I'll be at the game, but if you have a choice, I advise watching the Mummers' Parade instead - it will probably be a better show. Oh Dem Golden Slippers!

So we managed to lose a game to the previously 4-10 Arizona Cardinals, who've been wretched for their entire history. Not as wretched as us on Christmas Eve, but you get my point. We've come to the pass where we can't seem to get our shiz-nit together on either side of the ball. Our previously high-powered offense has turned completely inept.

Wait. That's not fair. I'm being insulting to inept people.

Our previously top-ranked defense has fallen to 27th in the NFL - as a reminder, that's out of 32 teams. Only the Chiefs (9-6), the Bills (5-10), the Rams (5-10), the 49ers (3-12), and the pathetic Texans (2-13) rank lower. Of course, our offense is so pitiful at this point that our D ends up on the field for 56 minutes and change of a 60 minute game, so it's no wonder they're a little inconsistent - they're exhausted.

Speaking of our D, only one Eagle, Jeremiah Trotter, was selected for the 2005 Pro Bowl. Last year 10, this year 1. That seems about right, since we’re about 1/10 as good this year as we were last year.

Was I the only one who panicked when McMahon went down, Detmer came in, and he decided to block on a play. Koy! You're not that big, you're not that young, and you're our last resort. You get hurt, and Brad Childress is going to have to suit up and get into the huddle. Well, at least he'd know the plays, unlike McMahon, who still seems vaguely confused most of the time. It's a complex offense, but you've had two months to get it together there, Sparky.

And is it even physically possible to amass more penalties than we have in the past two months? I know we have a lot of rookies playing, at least on offense, but shouldn't they be getting better by now? How many false starts can you have in one game anyway? (Wait - don't answer that.) What's the record? I'll bet we hold it at this point.

Frankly, the other games were a lot more exciting this week. Not that stomping, fuming, throwing things, and swearing at the Eagles aren’t exciting, but...Going into the last game of the season, two NFC divisions - South and East - still aren't decided. No team in the NFC South has even clinched a playoff spot yet. The Giants had the chance to wrap up East with a win over the Skins in Landover Saturday, and they just couldn't get it done. Yeah, I see them going down in the first round of the playoffs.

AFC divisions are all locked up at this point: Pats, Bengals, Colts, and Broncos, with the Colts holding dome field advantage and the Broncos with the other bye. Jaguars have a wildcard, and the Steelers are looking like the sixth AFC team. So not a lot at risk there on Sunday, particularly since Pittsburgh gets to end their season against the Lions.

NFC West is owned by the Seahawks, who also clinched home field with a win over the Colts Saturday afternoon. Preview of the Super Bowl? Nah - the Seahawks played like they had something on the line - which they did, home field - and the Colts played like they had it all wrapped up (which they do), taking starters out early in the game even though it led to a loss. And the Bears own NFC North. The six remaining teams in West and North are stinkin' up the joint. The only one that even has a winning record is the Vikings.

Sunday's games will decide the East and South. East could go to Giants with a win over the Raiders, which even they should be able to pull off, or with losses by the 'Skins to us (don't bet on it) and by Dallas to the Rams (likewise). I see all three teams winning, which means Giants will take East and the Redskins will take a wildcard spot. South is down to the Panthers and the Bucs, both teams at 10-5. The Bucs will definitely beat the Saints Sunday, and the Panthers should beat the Falcons, which would give the battered Bucs the division and the Panthers the other wildcard spot. But the Bucs are so beat down they're likely to go down in the first round of the playoffs as well.

New Year's Day will also witness the Bush Bowl: the 3-12 49ers and the 2-13 Texans will play for the right to draft Reggie Bush (the Saints, Packers, and Jets are all also 3-12 at this point). Which raises the question: once your season is that far in the toilet, do you lose on purpose to improve your draft standing? I think the Texans should seriously consider it, if they haven't already.

Hey - maybe that's been AR's secret strategy since D-Mac went down so spectacularly during week 10's Monday Night Football debacle....


19 December 2005

2005 Week 15 Recap

Eagles at Rams, Sunday, December 18, 2005

We won. We won ugly against a bad team (how many famous QBs do you know of out of Harvard? Thought so...), but we won.

Chef Spouse and I were in NYC celebrating our anniversary (lucky 13), so I only got home in time to see the very end of the game, for which I'm grateful, because reading the play by play recap at nfl.com, I think I would have blown an artery if I'd watched the whole mess live. There were two great plays: Moats' 59 yard run for the first Philly TD, and McMahon's short pass for the second TD. Dawk also came up with a few big defensive plays, including a very important interception late in the third quarter. But McMahon kept throwing to Rams, or getting taken down and dropping the ball, and our lack of ability to do much of anything on offense, on the ground or in the air, nearly gave the game to the Rams with 3 minutes to go. Fortunately, their offense is as inept as ours (low blow), and we hung on to our one point lead. Although we managed to screw up taking a knee at under a minute with a false start. Good lord! How do you screw up taking a knee? At least McMahon didn't fumble the ball again.

So far my predictions for the end of the season are coming right along: loss to the Seahawks, loss to the Giants, win against the Rams. Now if we can just beat the Cardinals and then the Redskins at home on New Years' Day (please, guys, I'm going to be at that game), I'll be at 1.000 for the last 1/3 of the season. Not bad. Maybe there's a career in sportscasting for me yet. Of course, the 'Skins are likely to be playing for a wildcard spot on New Year’s Day, which doesn't bode well...

Around the rest of the NFL, the 'Skins moved ahead of the Cowboys into the number 6 playoff spot in the NFC by TROUNCING them at home. Joe Gibbs managed to beat the 'Boys twice this year. I think even if the 'Skins lose their playoff spot to one of the NFC South teams, 'Skins fans will consider this a successful season.

Speaking of the NFC playoff picture, it remains interesting. Other than the division leaders (Seahawks at 12-2, and Giants, Panthers and Bears all at 10-4), one team (Bucs) is at 9-5, and FOUR teams are at 8-6 ('Skins, Cowboys, Falcons, and Vikings). With two games left, the NFC is still wide open. Seattle's the only NFC team that's even officially clinched a playoff spot, much less the division or a bye.

Contrast that with the AFC: all the division leaders have at least clinched a playoff spot (Broncos), with the Pats, Bengals, and Colts all wrapping up their divisions. And there are really only 3 other teams in contention for playoff spots: Steelers, Jaguars, and Chargers. (The Ravens are currently killing the Packers, 21 to 3, not that it matters in the least.)

Speaking of the AFC, the Colts' streak is over, dropped somewhat surprisingly to the Chargers. Even though they have LaDanian Tomlinson, the Chargers have been totally inconsistent this year, but their win over the Colts demonstrates that they're probably a better team than their 9-5 record would indicate. Peyton Manning may not be 100% though. He took a spill during the Colts' win against the Jaguars last week - didn't get hit, just tripped over his own feet and seems to have turned his ankle - but that does raise questions about the rest of the season. Super Bowl XL is the Colts' to lose, but if Manning's not 100%, they very well might lose it to the Seahawks. Saturday afternoon, Christmas Eve, the Colts are playing the Seahawks at the same time as we’re playing the Cardinals. I can't promise which I'll watch live and which I'll TiVo.


12 December 2005

2005 Week 14 Recap

Eagles v. Giants, Sunday, December 11, 2005

Ring...ring...

"Hello, Akers residence, David speaking...Oh, hey Coach Reid! Listen, I just wanted to say again how sorry I am about that missed field goal. How weird was that? And that thunk sound when the ball hit the crossbar was SO LOUD! But my leg's feeling 100% again, although you probably guessed that after I put that 50 yarder through...oh, that's not why you called? How's my arm feeling? Both of my arms are just fine...Well, that's a generous offer, Coach, but I don't really think I have the experience to QB against the Rams Sunday. Plus, have you seen how short I am? I'd just throw into the O-line's backs. You're such a kidder, Coach! Nobody ever believes me when I tell them about the time you glued Dawk's locker shut with his clothes inside while he was in the whirlpool...See you at practice tomorrow morning, Coach."

Ring...ring...

"Villanova University Athletic Department, Ben speaking...Hey guys, there's some joker on the phone pretending to be Andy Reid asking what our QB is doing Sunday and is he free to go to Missouri? Ha, ha very funny, buddy."

Ring...ring...

"Jaworski residence, Ron speaking..."

By now I assume everyone knows that you weren't hallucinating - McMahon really did pull up lame at the end of Sunday's OT loss to the Giants. And the injuries keep on rolling. "Go...you...wait, who the hell IS that guy?" I swear, I have no idea who half these guys are!

Despite the 3 point loss in overtime on the heels of our only turnover of the game (why did Jay Feeley have to pick this week to get over his performance anxiety?), Joe Buck's offensive game calling ("The officials gave Moats the touchdown! The officials gave the Eagles the first down after that 23 yard completion on 2nd and 3! The officials gave Akers the game-tying field goal!"), and the even more offensive officiating (how, pray tell, could it be DEFENSIVE pass interference, when Plaxico Burress had jumped on Sheldon Brown and was holding onto his helmet with both hands?), there was a lot of good news.

First of all, Ryan Moats is fast. He's like Road Runner fast. Paris Hilton fast (but with better fashion sense). He's not big - if we put him and Westy together, they might make one smallish power back - but he's damn zippy. More good news: Reggie Brown is living up to his promise, after the dropped pass against Dallas in week 10, to catch anything that comes anywhere near him. He's got decent hands, and as his instincts and feel for the pro game get better, he's just going to improve. Our D had some great moments, too, including some great interceptions that our inexperienced offense was sadly not able to capitalize on. But with the season officially blown - there is mathematically no possible way we'll be in the postseason - this game showed us some positives for the future of this team, most of all in spirit. It would have been easy to lie down and die after the humiliating loss to the Seahawks, particularly against the team that's leading the division, but our guys, who should have been woefully overmatched, pulled it together, played a great game, and would have won if not for an unlucky bounce on a very long field goal attempt.

Around the rest of the NFL, the Redskins squeaked a win over the awful Cardinals. Hey, we get to play the Cards in a few weeks! We might actually win that game! Woo-hoo! The Cowboys also squeaked a win over the pretty good Chiefs - sorry DVerm. The Minnesota streak under Brad Johnson continues, with a win over the Rams. Those guys might actually make the playoffs, which is shocking considering how badly their season started. It's not like there’s any contest from the Packers, who finally managed to win a game against the equally bad Lions. The Bucs whupped up on the Panthers, and the Falcons did the same to the poor homeless Saints. So the NFC playoff picture is starting to look like Giants, Bears, Seahawks, and - well, the South's still up in the air, although the Bucs lead at the moment. Cowboys, Vikings, Panthers, and Falcons all have a good shot at wildcard (actually, either the Panthers or the Falcons could still win the division). On the AFC side, the Pats are leading the pathetic AFC East, and the Bengals are a few games up on the Steelers, as are the Broncos over the Chargers. The Colts' winning streak continues, and I think Christmas Eve is going to give us a preview of the Super Bowl when the Colts play the Seahawks at 4 pm.


06 December 2005

2005 Week 13 Recap

Eagles v. Seahawks, Monday, December 5, 2005

When Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom was a kid, the local movie theater offered Saturday matinee Creature Double Features. Life-Long Eagles Fan Mom loved them, but they also scared the hoo-hahs out of her. So she'd watch the movies through her coat sleeve and close it off when it got too scary. Unfortunately, I watched Monday Night Football from Orlando, and it was too hot to watch through my coat sleeve. But I really could have used it, because that game was the scariest thing I've seen a LONG time.

I have a confession to make: I didn't watch the entire game. I know, bad fan, no Super Bowl (like that was even in question this year). But after the first half, I just couldn't bear it anymore.

...

OK, that's not entirely true. I did tune in again near the end of the third quarter. And things had only gotten worse. Then I really couldn't watch any more. My eyes were about to start bleeding.

I seriously don't even think I can review this mess. If you were lucky enough not to see it - you know, you had a date, you'd suffered blunt force head trauma and were were in a coma, you'd been arrested and couldn't make bail - I can sum it up in one word: sucktacular. McMahon threw interceptions. So AR pulled him out and put in Detmer. Who also threw interceptions. We were like the football equivalent of the Bad News Bears before Walter Matthau (or Billy Bob Thornton - take your pick) straightened them out.

Worse news: season-ending injury for yet another Pro Bowl Eagle, our leading rusher AND receiver, Mr. Villanova, Brian Westbrook. I'm guessing there won't be too many Eagles in the Pro Bowl this year.

Do I even have to recount the score? Yes, we were shut out, and Seattle scored 42 points. FORTY TWO POINTS (I had to write the whole thing out to fully capture the horror). I believe it was the most lopsided game ever in the history of Monday Night Football, and our worst loss ever under AR. The only reason it wasn't worse is that I think the Seahawks didn't even bother to take the field in the fourth quarter. Of course, since our offense couldn't find the endzone with both hands, a map, and a GPS, it didn't help. To quote the Philly sportswriters: "inept," "pitiful," "going nowhere fast," and "the biggest disappointment in the league." OK, that last one was excessively harsh - the Packers, my favorite 2005-2006 whipping boys, are in fact the biggest disappointment in the league. We're only the SECOND biggest disappointment in the league, thank YOU very much.

Unfortunately, as I was stuck in Orlando with no DirectTV Sunday package, I was forced to watch the Saints/Buccaneers game, rather than Bengals/Steelers or Giants/Cowboys, as I would have preferred. I did get to see the Chargers roll over the Raiders, though. I'm starting to feel bad for Randy Moss. No, really! Short version: Bucs, Bengals, and Giants won (and surprisingly, the Broncos lost - not breaking that Kansas City curse this year). The Steelers seem to be crumbling - not as dramatically as we are, but Roethlisberger has a busted thumb, and the rest of the team is, um, not taking it well. At 7-5, they have the same record as the AFC East weak-division-leading Patriots and are unlikely to make the playoffs. The Cowboys looked pathetic. Again, not as pathetic as we did, but it was not a good week for The Tuna. The only reason that game wasn't a blowout is because Eli Manning seems to be struggling again, too. The Vikings are on a roll with Brad Johnson at QB and, after a truly atrocious start, are starting to look like they could kick the 'Boys or the Bucs out of one of the NFC wildcard spots. And we're once again alone at the bottom of NFC East. And next week, we play the Giants. Lay in a good supply of your favorite pain killer - Excedrin, Aleve, bourbon, smack - you're gonna need it.