Sunday, December 20, 2009

Eagles hold off Niners to clinch playoff spot

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)
One of these days the Eagles will have to play 4 full quarters of football. Luckily, against mediocre teams like the Niners, when the Eagles take the 3rd quarter off it doesn't come back to bite them. I guess we should be happy with the bottom line: the Eagles clinched a playoff berth with their 27-13 win over the Niners on Sunday.

It was an uneven game for the Eagles offensively as they looked unstoppable at times and completely out of sync in others. They started strong, taking the opening drive right down the field for a quick 7 points, but later stalled as Donovan McNabb made his usual array of underthrows and wild passes. Sure, McNabb completed passes to 8 different receivers and managed 300 yards of passing, but his 2 interceptions and poor decision-making could have been damaging if the Niners were a better team that was better equipped to take advantage of miscues.

Luckily, the Eagles remembered their recipe for offensive success just in time: get the ball to DeSean Jackson. Jackson had yet another big game, catching 6 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. He also added a 9 yard rush for good measure. Getting the ball to DeSean as many times as possible in as many ways possible should be priority number one for the Eagles. He is easily the Eagles offensive MVP with the way he can score any time he touches the ball. I would hate to see what the Eagle offense would look like without Jackson.

While the Eagles offense had their struggles, the Eagles defense was mostly solid throughout. Sure, they allowed Frank Gore to become the first running back to get 100 yards rushing against them this season, but they also attacked Niners QB Alex Smith early and often, forcing him into three picks, several wild throws and numerous throw-aways. Most importantly, whenever the Eagles offense failed to convert on 4th down or turned the ball over, the defense was there to make a big play to keep the Niners from clawing their way back into the game.

With the win, the Eagles clinched a playoff spot and remained in first place in the NFC East. With the Cowboys knocking off the Saints yesterday, the Eagles had to win this game to stay one step ahead of Dallas in their quest for a home game in the first round. Everything appears to be setting up for a Week 17 clash between the Cowboys and Eagles with the NFC East on the line. If the Eagles want to win that game and if they want to do anything in the playoffs, they are going to have to play 60 minutes of football. Mental lapses and offensive lulls just aren't going to cut it against the best teams in the league. This team has just as much talent as any in the NFL, if they put it all together and they keep getting the ball to the uncoverable DeSean Jackson, they are going to be very hard to knock off.

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