They came from everywhere. Men and women both young and old, made their sentiments known after the Philadelphia Eagles’ week three lost to the Arizona Cardinals.
Leading up to this week’s game against the NFC East rival New York Giants, many called for Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid to be fired. Many felt the blame should have been laid at quarterback Michael Vick’s feet, as he had committed nine turnovers in the first three games.
Coming into this week four match up, Vick was sacked or hit on 36.6% of his drop backs, most in the NFL. For Philadelphia to have a chance at winning, they would need to protect Vick and hope that he would make the correct decisions under center.
On that cool Sunday evening, Vick led the Eagles out onto the field during their first drive and it was more of the same: no offensive line protection; three plays for only five yards. Things would get no better as Vick was hurried or knocked down on countless drop backs during their first quarter possessions.
Eli Manning and the Giants would fare no better. New York’s offense also sputtered in the first quarter, as their first three drives’ only amounted to 42 yards and no points. As both teams seemed to teach lessons of futility during the first half, there was frustration on both the Philadelphia and New York sideline. Halfway through the second quarter, the game still stood at 0-0.
With time waning in the first half, the scoring finally happened. Philadelphia started their fifth drive of the game at their own 30 yard line and marched 70 yards down the field on 11 plays, capped with a 19 yard touchdown pass from Vick to wide receiver, DeSean Jackson, in the back of the end zone.
Not to be outdone, Manning led the Giants 81 yards on 10 plays in only 1:42. New York kicker Lawrence Tynes connected on a 25 yard field goal to pull within four. At halftime it was a barn burner: Philadelphia 7, New York 3.
Both teams came out strong on offense in the third quarter. Philadelphia received the second half kickoff and their strategy was clear, run the ball. The 78 yard, nine play drive, which consisted of seven running plays, ended with a 20 yard field goal by Philadelphia kicker Alex Henery. Although they ran the ball with success, Philadelphia had a 1st and goal from the one yard line, and Eagles’ running back LeSean McCoy was stuffed on three straight plays.
With their first possession of the second half, New York also refocused on their ground game. Of their eight plays on the drive, five were on the ground. On 3rd and 3 from the Philadelphia 14 yard line, Eli Manning threw a 14 yard touchdown to New York wide receiver Victor Cruz.
On their second possession of the third quarter, the Eagles started moving the ball again but again were stopped short of the end zone. This time Philadelphia had to settle for a 48 yard field goal from Henery. With less than three minutes to play in the third quarter, it was Philadelphia 13, New York 10.
On New York’s next possession, the Giants started off with excellent field position. Rookie return man David Wilson continued to impress and returned the kickoff 53 yards, into Eagles’ territory. On the last play of the quarter, New York converted a 4th and 1 at the Eagles 40 yard line, when Manning found Cruz over the middle for a 30 yard gain and first down.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Manning threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted by Philadelphia corner back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the end zone. It was Manning’s ninth interception in the red zone since 2010, the most in the NFL.
After exchanging scores throughout the fourth quarter, Henry kicked his fourth field goal of the day for Philadelphia with only 1:49 left in the game. With Philadelphia leading 19-17, but plenty of time left on the clock for Manning, many of the Philly faithful in the stadium were feeling uneasy.
New York moved the ball down the field, but this time it wasn’t because of Manning’s late game heroics. After failing to convert on third down, New York was faced with a 4th and 1. Manning floated a deep pass down the right sideline for wide out Ramses Harden; Rodgers-Cromartie was flagged for defensive pass interference.
After two more in-completions, on 3rd and 10 Philadelphia was again flagged for defensive pass interference. Once again Harden was involved, but this time it was corner back Nnamdi Asomugha who drew the flag. With New York facing 1st and 10 at the Eagles’ 27 yard line, it was starting to sink in that Philadelphia was on the verge of losing its second straight game.
On 2nd and 9, Manning lofted another pass deep down the sideline for Harden with Asomugha in coverage. The pass fell incomplete and for the third time in six plays, there was another flag laying on the field. The third time would not be a charm for Manning, Harden and the Giants. Offensive pass interference was the call, backing up the Giants ten yards to the Philadelphia 36.
After Manning threw an in-completion on the next play, there was confusion amongst the New York personnel. The offense was lingering on the field, expecting to run another play, while the special teams unit was marching on the field to attempt the game winning field goal. New York had no time outs left and hastily made the decision to line up for the 54 yard field goal.
The suspense was palpable as New York hurried to line up for the attempt. The snap was good, the kick was up and it was no good. Everyone cheered in Philadelphia as they knew their beloved Eagles had narrowly escaped defeat, but it wasn’t over. With a second to spare, Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid had called a timeout before New York ran the play.
During the next 90 seconds, fans and analysts decried Reid’s decision immediately; some suggesting again it was time to let Reid go. When Tynes lined up for his second attempt at the game winner, many already had Reid’s bags packed. They may have to wait another week. Tynes’ attempt fell short of the goal posts, the kick was no good; Philadelphia wins.
The lost drops New York to 2-2, with both losses coming to division foes, Philadelphia and Dallas. Their secondary is banged up and had trouble keeping up with Philly’s wide outs throughout the night. Hosting the Cleveland Browns at home next week, in New York, may just be what the Giants need to right their course.
The young season has also been trying for the Eagles. Their three victories have been by a combined four points, most of them marred with mistakes, missed opportunities and turnovers. Their offensive line has been problematic each game, creating difficulties for Vick and McCoy, yet they sit at 3-1 atop the NFC East.
Their bags may have been packed but Vick and Reid survived another week. Vick made good decisions, didn’t turn the ball over and was only sacked twice. Reid made all the right moves it seemed until the end but even tonight he could do no wrong. It’s time for everyone: men and women, young and old to leave Vick, Reid and Philadelphia alone. At least until next week.