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Monday, November 22, 2010

Ugly Eagles Win Could Look Good Later

The Eagles beat the Giants for first place in the NFC East last night, and there’s no need to take away from that in any way. It’s Thanksgiving week in a season that was supposed to be about finding out whether or not Kevin Kolb was able to play quarterback in the NFL. The run that many Eagles fans are now anticipating into the playoffs is an unexpected early holiday gift.

I said on Friday that this could be a very telling game for the Eagles, and, in fact, that’s what it became. I’m just not sure if it was a positive sign that they won in the fashion that they did, or a game filled with warning signs for those who went to bed last Monday night with visions of a Super Bowl dancing in their heads. Last night was a game that fans are used to seeing become an ugly loss, and instead it was an ugly win. And maybe, just maybe, that’s more important than the blowout win against the Redskins.

Everybody, of course, is talking about the fact that every game can’t be a romp like Monday night. No kidding.

Obviously, the win was huge for the Eagles, regardless of how it happened. But there were definitely some reasons for concern on display last night. If the game had followed the script we’re all so used to, Eagles fans would be talking about missed opportunities today.

The offense was handed back-to-back possessions by the defense deep in Giants territory in the second quarter and came away with field goals. The receivers, who have been great lately, probably had their worst game of the season. Jason Avant – not that he’s ever been great – dropped the easiest would-be TD of his life. In the same quarter, DeSean Jackson looked like he gave up on a deep sideline pass. He also missed another pass for a touchdown. The pass was slightly underthrown, but I thought he should have had it.

On the positive side, Jeremy Maclin carried the load for the receivers with 9 catches for 120 yards. No other receiver surpassed 50 yards.

Michael Vick actually had a decent game statistically – and otherwise. I get the impression people feel like he had a bad game, but he threw was 24 of 38 passing for 258 yards against one of the best defenses in the league. Plus, again, at least one and arguably two touchdown passes were dropped. He even rushed for a touchdown in a game where the Giants kept him pretty bottled up as a runner.

That said, he fumbled in the fourth quarter, a turnover that the Giants turned into a touchdown and their only lead of the game. That type of thing can be devastating in the playoffs. Talk of the Giants having given the rest of the league a blueprint on defending Vick has already started.

The Eagles’ defense deserved a lot of credit last night, but even they showed some worrisome signs. The Eagles were up by 13 points in the third quarter, and ended up being down 1 in the fourth. Asante Samuel had two interceptions, but instead of essentially putting the game away with the second one, he fumbled it right back to New York.

The Eagles only had the lead at that point because LeSean McCoy went 50 yards for a touchdown on a toss play that was almost fumbled by Vick at the snap, and the toss was inches from at least being knocked down by a Giant defender.

It was an ugly game, and probably seemed worse just six days removed from the stellar performance against Washington. But the Giants are a much better team than the Redskins – in fact, the Giants have been one of the best teams this year, and I think Washington is one of the worst in the NFL – and the win puts the Eagles in a great position to make a deep playoff run.

It also proved that they can win when they’re not having their best game, which might make the ugliness of last night look damn good sometime in January.

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