Sunday, December 28, 2008
After a tense first quarter, it looked like we were headed towards another low-scoring NFC East defensive battle. With the score knotted at 3-3 early in the second quarter, Donovan McNabb connected on a short pass to Correll Buckhalter that Buck took for 59 yards all the way down to the 6 yard line. That play led the Eagles to a 24 point second quarter outburst and from there they never looked back.
The offense was the story of the second quarter as McNabb connected on several big passing plays to DeSean Jackson and Reggie Brown. The Eagles actually had a balanced offensive attack, mixing in runs by Brian Westbrook and Buckhalter with their usual array of passes.
The third quarter of the game belonged to the Eagles defense. The Cowboys marched down the field twice in the third quarter only to get the ball stripped twice by Brian Dawkins and have it returned for a pair of touchdowns to completely blow the game open. Dawkins created one of the strips while sacking Tony Romo and the other on Marion Barber after he caught a pass. One of the fumbles was returned 73 yards by Chris Clemons and the other was returned 96 yards by Joselio Hansen and the rout was on. Anyone want to question whether BDawk deserves to be a Pro Bowler?
From there the Eagles simply ran the ball and melted the clock away. Inexplicably, while down 44-3, the Cowboys kicked a field goal late in the 4th quarter to pull themselves within 5 touchdowns. I guess they needed a moral victory to take with them into the offseason.
The Eagles were given yet another chance to resurrect their season and they did so in an eye-popping fashion today. After being left for dead by many, including myself, following their tie with the Cincinnati Bengals, they fought their way back into the playoff picture. After falling a foot short against the Redskins, it appeared that the Eagles were once again done as they needed a miracle combination of losses to have a shot. The miracle happened, and the Birds capitalized.
Also making today's victory doubly great for Eagles fans is that the Cowboys were denied a spot in the playoffs. Once again, "America's Team" has proven they can't win when it matters most. They might be one of the most talented teams in the NFL but they clearly don't have what it takes to win in December. It will be fun to see what changes happen in Dallas because it's clear they can't continue with the same personnel. Whether it's the coach, the quarterback or the receiver, somebody has to go.
But enough about the Cowboys, it's time to celebrate the Eagles and their Wild Card berth. They will now face the Vikings in Minnesota next weekend. The Vikings aren't a particularly scary opponent for the Eagles since their defense can be thrown on. Stopping Adrian Peterson will be priority number one but the Minnesota offense doesn't have much else.
The NFC playoffs are wide open. Besides the Carolina Panthers, none of the other teams in the NFC are really better than the Eagles. The Birds have already beaten the Giants, Falcons and Cardinals this season so they definitely have a shot at making a deep playoff run. After last week I never thought I would be saying this but the Eagles are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. As the Giants proved last season, getting hot at the right time can carry you a long way.
Congrats, Eagles, you proved all the doubters wrong. While you aren't a perfect team, you had an opportunity today and you seized it. Celebrate your win today but get yourselves ready to extend this season beyond just the first round.