Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hope remains alive: Eagles run over Giants

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Where has this Eagles team been all season? With their playoff hopes essentially on the line every week, the Eagles continue to play their best football of the season. Last week it was their impressive performance against the Arizona Cardinals on Thanksgiving, this week it was their all-around effort in dismantling the defending Super Bowl champions, the Giants.

The Eagles won 20-14 over the Giants in the swirling winds of the Meadowlands. They won with something we rarely see from this Eagles team: offensive balance. The Eagles actually ran the ball more often than they threw it in the game, which allowed them to not only wear down the Giants defense but it kept the ball away from Eli Manning and the Giants offense. I don't know if Andy Reid finally figured out that running the ball once in a while can actually win you a football game or if the weather conditions forced the Eagles away from the pass, but the Birds just looked like a much more complete football team.

The biggest beneficiary of the balanced offensive attack was Brian Westbrook who finished with 203 total yards of offense. He rushed the ball a career-high 33 times in the game and has proven once again that when he's healthy he's still a dangerous weapon.

Donovan McNabb didn't put up huge numbers in the game but he did have a solid performance. While he is still prone to skipping the ball to his receivers, he still made a few solid passes into the wind. McNabb also showed great mobility in the pocket and even made some key first down scrambles late in the game.

The Eagles defense once again came up big. The Eagles slowed down the Giants rushing attack and forced Eli Manning to try to beat them through the air. Manning didn't look like the Eli of the past year, instead he resembled the Eli that usually comes up small in December as he made several bad decisions and errant passes. As a result, the Giants failed to score an offensive touchdown until the final minute of the game.

The Eagles now move to 7-5-1 and are very much alive in the NFC Wild Card picture. While the Eagles will likely still need to run the table to get in, their schedule doesn't look as impossible as it once did. The Birds get a bad Browns team next week on Monday Night and they will finish the season off with games against the Redskins and Cowboys. The Redskins game is on the road, but the Skins have really fallen off since their hot start to the season. Cowboys games are always tough but the Eagles always seem to play their best against Dallas at the end of the season.

If the Eagles team that has shown up for the past two weeks continues to show up then the Eagles have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. They look like a great team with their defense playing strong and their balanced offensive attack. Count me amongst those fans that has hope again for this team. As we have learned in the past, you can never count out the Eagles until the season is completely over.

Let's just hope the right Eagles team keeps showing up every week.

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