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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Eagles Run Out of Last-minute Magic Against Steelers

          It couldn’t last forever.

          The Eagles ran out of last-minute magic in Pittsburgh, and finally lost one of those nail biter games on a game-ending field goal, 16-14. Their first three wins had come by a total of 4 points. The Eagles dropped to 3-2 on the season.

          Two more turnovers by Mike Vick caught up with the Eagles this week as the quarterback fumbled on the goal line costing the team a touchdown.

          Of course my newly minted rooting interest in the Steelers has me taking some expected, if less than inventive, abuse from Eagles fans. I get that. What I don’t get is the constant lament from the Birds faithful that “if we could just eliminate the turnovers . . .”

          Well, yeah, it would be great. But Vick has been in this league a long time. His style of play is what it is – and it leads to turnovers and, usually eventually, injuries.

          It’s like when they say, “If Andy Reid would just run the ball . . .”

          Well, yeah, it would be great. But Reid has been in this league a long time. To be fair the Eagles ran the ball to a great win last week. This week, by my quick count from the ESPN box score, LeSean McCoy ran the ball 8 times in the second half – 6 times on their final offensive drive that resulted in a go-ahead touchdown. McCoy ran for a total of 16 times for 53 yards.

          The Eagles run-pass ratio was 23-30 – not bad for a Reid team. When Vick’s 5 rushes are factored in, the ratio is a bit more questionable. Granted, they weren’t having great success with the run. But in a tight game with sloppy conditions, it seemed like a good day to pound the ball. Yet, when they needed to run, they actually did it successfully. As usual, Eagles fans have to wonder what would have happened if they had stayed with the run in the second half.

          By comparison, the Steelers (who aren’t known as a “3 yards and a cloud of dust team anymore) run-pass ratio was 37-31, including 8 rushes by my quick count on their game-winning drive. To be completely fair, the last few rushes were just killing the clock before the final field goal and Ben Roethlisburger had 3 rushes in the game. But they fed Rashard Mendenhall, in his first game back from a major knee injury, 14 times for 81 yards. When they felt they needed the run in the end, they used it to win.

          The numbers don’t scream out this week, but the question of balance in play calling continues to haunt Reid. There’s no reason to think it’s going to change.

          The Eagles are clearly a much improved team and their defense – though it wasn’t great today giving up 343 yards – may actually be the strength of the team.

          One Eagles fan already took solace in the idea that the “Eagles have a better chance at a Super Bowl than the Steelers, just being real” on my Facebook page.

          That’s probably true. The Steelers have a beat up offensive line and an aging defense. I just thought the idea was to actually win a Super Bowl, not just have a better chance than a team with little chance. This season. Unless the Steelers can survive a weak schedule and have a serviceable offensive line by the playoffs . . .




          As readers can tell (hopefully not from the above post but in general), my energy for sports blogging has been waning. With the Eagles-Steelers matchup behind us, I’ll be returning to my tweeting mode and removing the link to the post on my new stance on the Eagles from the sidebar. Occasionally, I might have something more to say in the form of a rant. For now, with my personal interest in the Eagles gone and my efforts to publish non-sports material picking up, I’m just not geared up enough to write full posts on sports on a regular basis. Hopefully the occasional rant will actually be more worth reading.

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