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The Eagles have been setting ratings records all season. They’ve already been a part of the two highest rated games of the year; Week 1 against the Packers and just a couple weeks ago against the Colts. That game was the highest rated for CBS in three years.
Last night, with first place in the NFC East on the line and Michael Vick coming off a performance for the ages, they did it again. Eagles vs. Giants scored a 15.9 rating, which is the highest rated November Sunday night game in 12 years.
The Eagles will play their next two games in front of a national audience as well, so there’s a decent chance more ratings records could fall as the Eagles roll on.
First things first, Ellis Hobbs walked out of the X-Ray room on his own power after his tests were negative. Great news there.
Secondly, I'm not going to get into what happened first or second or who did what individually in this game because it won't make any sense. This game was completely stupid. The Eagles didn't deserve to win this game, but the Giants deserved it less, so I guess it's good that Philadelphia came out on top. This football game had so many different elements to it, not the least of which being the bonus of the winner gaining sole control of the NFC East.
The referees absolutely played a role. One that was far too big and deciding for an unbiased group of people. There is not a person in this world who understands and agrees with each helmet-to-helmet call or what constitutes an actual fumble. There's just not. It's a complicated game, easily the most difficult to officiate in any of our sports, and I try to cut the refs some slack on real time plays and snap decisions.
But the way this game was officiated and the calls that got made or didn't get made were completely random. Some helmet-to-helmet hits are violent, malicious, flag-inducing plays, while some are circumstantial and "part of the game" and ambiguous. What is the exact definition of "irrefutable" that the NFL referees are looking at when deciding a challenged play? Because it's different from the one I'm aware of, and I'd just like to be clear on how I should be watching a game.
Refs aside, the players were in a sort of NFC East Twilight Zone the whole night. It seemed like every other play was a fumble pileup that could have gone either way. This was far from a tightly played football game (hey penalties!) and it exposed a ton of weaknesses in this Eagles team. All week, people were crowning them the class of the NFC because of how unstoppable they looked against the Redskins. And they did look the best I've ever seen an Eagles team look. But it was one week and before we anoint them world champions, they need to prove it over multiple games against good football teams. The secondary had a ton of trouble tackling, the defensive line wasn't getting to the quarterback enough, and seriously, stop making useless penalties.
The game didn't make any sense, but all that matters I suppose is that the Eagles scored more points than the Giants and are now a full game up on them for the top spot in the NFC East. What this means for the rest of the season I have no idea. But we've got six more weeks left to figure out just what the hell this team is and one game will not determine that. Next week at Chicago, a team that is somehow 7-3. Be sure to bring your inhalers.
This game is unbelievable.
After Michael Vick missed Jeremy Maclin on 3rd and 1 from the 50, it seemed like they were going to fall flat on their face in the 4th quarter. But Vick, bobbling the ball on the snap, flipped the ball to Shady McCoy, who turned up field and ran 50 yards for the game-leading touchdown. Up 5, the Eagles went for 2 and got it when Vick hit Jason Avant in stride for the two yards.
The Eagles lead 24-17 in this whacked out game and this one is so very far from over. I need an Advil. 4:25 remaining.
On a broken play, Ahmad Bradshaw caught an Eli Manning swing pass and was met immediately by Ernie Sims. The linebacker whiffed on the hit, but tripped up Bradshaw enough for him to stumble. He leaned forward trying to balance himself and his ball carrying hand hit the ground, when the ball came loose. Broderick Bunkley came up with the ball at the bottom of the pile.
The Giants challenged the play, arguing Bradshaw’s forearm was down, making the play dead. It looked to me like it was the back of his hand, which would make it a live ball, but the play is too close to overturn. The referees, clearly with superior vision to me, decided against this, saying there was indisputable evidence that the forearm hit first. I’m gonna go ahead and call shenanigans on this, but that’s the whole game so what’s the point.
The drive started with Lawrence Tynes kicking the ball out of bounds, giving the Eagles a 60-yard field. On a big third down play, Michael Vick hit Jason Avant on a beautiful catch made by the receiver at the Giants 35 yard line. The next play, however, Todd Herremans got flagged for another personal foul, this time for a chop block, pushing the Eagles to the 50. Penalties like these have been the Achilles heel for this team all season. If they can’t limit these, the season will end quicker than they’d like.
Another negative play made it 3rd and 30 from Bethlehem, and Vick got sacked by Justin Tuck, almost fumbling the ball back to the Giants for great field position. Sav Rocca punted away, and the Giants will try to orchestrate a long, time-wasting touchdown drive from their own 27.
He simply held onto it too long in the pocket. The protection has been great all day, but Michael Vick held the ball at his side, allowing Justin Tuck to get to him and knock the ball away. Barry Cofield recovered at the Eagles 27.
With the momentum firmly on the Giants side and a short field to boot, Eli Manning didn’t waste any time. He rolled one way and hit a wheelbarrowing Brandon Jacobs for a 22 yard gain all the way to the Eagles 5. Then, with all the time in the world, Manning found Derek Hagan in the back of the endzone to tie it up. Lawrence Tynes PAT gave the Giants their first lead of the game and a nauseous feeling in the stomachs of all Eagles fans.
It’s like they’re trying to give the game away. Not good. Plenty of time left, down 1.
The Giants were the beneficiaries of another Eagles penalty, this time a pass interference call on Quinton Mikell. Eli Manning threw up a lame duck Mario Manningham, who was covered, but Mikell got turned around and banged into Manningham before the ball was there, drawing a flag. The next play, Eli tossed an easy touchdown to Travis Beckum, cutting the Eagles lead to 16-10 with only seconds left in the third quarter.
Trent Cole gets held every play by Shawn Andrews or whoever else is on him after the snap. Sometimes they call it, but most of the time the don’t. Holds are everywhere so I don’t know how to fix it, but him being held seems to be a problem. Just thought I’d point that out.
16-10 Eagles, maybe now we can get a touchdown or two. Finish a drive please.
After a loooooong stoppage of play when Ellis Hobbs was getting stretchered off the field after a neck injury from an unflagged helmet to helmet hit, the Eagles offense looked much smoother than it had all night. First a pass on the outside to Desean Jackson, then a pass on the other side to Jeremy Maclin, who cut back for 18 yards. Then a rare screen pass to LeSean McCoy went for 17 more and Vick and company found themselves at midfield.
The Giants forced the Eagles into a third and short, and Vick went to Jason Avant for the first time since he dropped a sure touchdown pass, resulting in a first down. On another third and short, Vick tried to lean forward for the first, but was met at the line of scrimmage by Justin Tuck, who pushed him back and forced a 4th down. Andy Reid opted run another sneak on 4th and inches, deciding that the Giants front line couldn’t stop the same thing twice, and they didn’t. Back in the red zone, two ugly plays brought the Eagles to yet another third down, the third of the drive, this time with 11 yards to go. A quick slant to Desean Jackson only got 8, and David Akers came out for the 4th time today, nailing a 28-yard attempt.
16-3 Eagles. Field Goals < Touchdowns. Get some of those.
Another Eagles drive ended in a field goal, this time as time a blocked one by Terrell Thomas to end the first half. The Giants have been successful blitzing Michael Vick so far today and he’s been forced to be a different quarterback than the one who pulverized the Redskins defense last week. Aside from the first touchdown drive, Vick hasn’t been comfortable inside the pocket or out and that’s the primary reason the Eagles haven’t been able to capitalize on great field position the rest of the half. I suppose two dropped touchdown passes are also to blame.
Time of possession is virtually equal, and while the Eagles have converted three more first downs than the Giants, New York has benefited from 4 Eagles penalties, including a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Asante Samuel of all people and a clipping personal foul by Todd Herremans. The Philadelphia defense has been mostly great and they should continue to force bad passes from Eli Manning if the front four can keep holding the running game of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.
The Eagles will get the ball to start the second half. A commanding touchdown drive would be awesome. Bring me back the momentum.
It seems like he gets one every game. Covering Hakeem Nicks, Asante Samuel jumped another comeback route after 8 yards and stepped in front of Nicks to intercept an Eli Manning pass. That’s Asante’s 2nd turnover tonight, 6th pick of the season, half of which have come from quarterbacks named Manning.
After Clay Harbor caught his first pass of his career, the Eagles were inside the Giants 10. A play action caught the Giants off-guard and left Jason Avant wide open in the back of the end zone. Michael Vick made an easy pass to the normally sure-handed Avant, who inexplicably dropped it on third down. He was too open. Hopefully not getting 6 there won’t hurt the Eagles later on, but knowing the NFL, it will. David Akers hit his second field goal of the game.
13-3 Eagles. Missed opportunities kill.
One play after Joselio Hanson almost picked off an Eli Manning pass right out of Derek Hagan’s hands, the Eagles got their turnover. Ahmad Bradshaw was gangtackled by a number of Eagles defenders when rookie Brandon Graham ripped the ball out and onto the ground. Asante Samuel picked up the loose football, taking it to the Giants 20 for a very short field. This was Graham’s first turnover forced in his young career.
10-3 Eagles in the back end of the 2nd quarter.
Both teams’ offenses stalled early, each going three-and-out due to negative rushing plays. It was clear that the Giants plan is to keep Michael Vick in the pocket at all costs, giving him plenty of time to find receivers if he’s willing to step into his throws.
When the Eagles got the ball back from the Giants after their second 3-and-out, they began the drive from their own 32. Vick hit Desean Jackson for 23 yards and the first first down of the game, getting the Eagles to midfield. A quick buttonhook to Jeremy Maclin got them another first down, which led to a dump play to LeSean McCoy, who juked his way 10 yards to another first down. In the 9th play of the drive, on third down, Vick hung in the pocket for a while before hitting Jackson for a comeback route and 13 more yards and the first red zone appearance for either team.
A few small plays to McCoy got the Eagles into a first and goal from the 4. On second down, Vick took the ball from the shotgun on a designed QB keeper, making one man miss before running into the endzone just inside the pylon.
7:09 drive, 68 yards, 13 plays. 7-0 Eagles.
Ellis Hobbs is active and will make his return to the lineup as will Nate Allen. Jorrick Calvin’s status presumably means Ellis Hobbs will handle kick returns.
Here’s something you most likely did not realize. This Sunday night will be the first time that Michael Vick is announced as the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles to the Lincoln Financial Field crowd. Think about it.. Kevin Kolb started game one against the Packers. Michael Vick took over as the starter for the next two weeks which were on the road. Then they returned to Philadelphia to face the Redskins, but the Eagles introduced their defense so they could introduce Donovan McNabb as a member of the Redskins. Vick ended up getting injured in the game.
The Eagles next played at home against Atlanta, where Kevin Kolb started. Vick resumed his starting duties against the Colts in week 9 at home, but again the Eagles introduced their defense. So finally, this weekend Michael Vick will come out of the tunnel and be introduced to the Linc crowd as their starting QB. He was asked this week how he felt about that?
"I haven’t thought about it yet due to the fact that we’ve been trying to get ready for the game this weekend and trying to be ready with the preparation. Now that the time has come and it’s almost game time, I think it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and I think that’s going to set the tone. It’s just going to be very gratifying to get the reaction and I can’t wait."
Former oft injured Eagle Shawn Andrews is… you guessed it, injured for the Giants. Bad news for them is that it’s the back injury which limited him to two games over his final two years with the Eagles. Just like it was here, his back remains a mystery and this week he was simply too sore and stiff to practice.
“He has been stiff and sore before but never to [this] point,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “He actually came out and tried to work yesterday. He felt he could work. As long as he was in a two-point stance, he felt he could. But then the smarter move prevailed and we didn’t push it any. He was a little bit better this morning. And hopefully he will be a little bit better tomorrow.”
The only reason Andrews was playing is because the starter got hurt, so if he can’t go the Giants will really be scraping the bottom looking for offensive lineman. Even if he does play, an injured Andrews against Trent Cole is not a matchup any Giants fan wants to see.
Before Marty Mornhinweg was deferring in overtime as one of the long line of coaches who couldn’t win with the Detroit Lions, he was the offensive coordinator for some great 49ers teams. Among the QBs he’s worked with was Hall of Famer Steve Young, who is probably the greatest “scrambling” QB of all time. He was asked this week to compare the skill sets of Michael Vick and Steve Young.
"They’re very similar. The makeup is there on the field as far as talent and ability. Mike has really worked hard to [get to] the level that Steve worked hard at. Steve ended up being one of the most accurate passers ever in the history of the game; first ballot Hall of Famer. So Mike has worked very hard, very diligent. He’s very focused, he’s very determined to continue to work to get to that level and then to stay at that level. As far as the exact plays, you always play to the strengths of your players no matter what position they play. That’s what we’re trying to do here with Mike."
The Eagles returned to practice today and were without two starters. RB LeSean McCoy and DE Juqua Parker were both held out. However, Andy Reid said he was mostly trying to get them rest and both will play this weekend. Andy was asked whether he was taking it easy with McCoy because he's just about equaled his total carries from last season.
"He's been doing a good job, so there's not a lot of preserving that goes on in the National Football League, especially at this time of the year. I do want to make sure that he gets back to where he feels comfortable. He's worked through some things this season. He's a tough kid. To answer your question, I'm going to keep a close eye on it and make sure that I'm comfortable with how he feels."
Safety Nate Allen returned to practice this week after missing Monday night with a neck strain. He's expected to play. Ellis Hobbs also returned to practice after missing the last two games with a hip flexor. Even if he does play, Reid said that Dimitri Patterson will remain the starter.
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