[Photo by jvc_107]
BY MIKE WOLVERTON SPORTS GUYThat was the craziest game you’ve ever seen. The first contest in NFL history that ended on a game-winning punt return as time expired. The Eagles’ biggest comeback and the most points they’ve ever scored in the fourth quarter (28). That’s six straight wins against the Giants. But let’s not forget that had the Eagles lost that game, Andy Reid would have been barbequed for not throwing the challenge flag on DeSean Jackson’s fourth quarter fumble. The Eagles had momentum at that point and had just started moving the ball, down 24-10. With the red hankie firmly entrenched in Reid’s pocket, the Giants got the turnover and scored quickly thereafter. It’s unbelievable that the Eagles were in a deep dark hole, made such a critical mistake, paid dearly for it, and still somehow won. I’m going to let Reid off the hook for the challenge decision; there are members of the Eagles’ coaching staff that have access to replays and it is their job to make that decision quickly and get the information to Reid. He doesn’t have replays to look at and can’t be expected to go by what he saw live. Plus Reid was surely gun-shy from losing a challenge earlier in the game. The Eagles coaches just didn’t see the proper replay quickly enough or failed to properly communicate.
Coaching had a big influence on this game. Reid gets hammered for his game management skills (clock/timeouts/challenges), but rarely gets enough credit for his excellent in-game adjustments. In the first half, the Giants defense made the Eagles look like the [insert terrible NFL offense here. Panthers will do]. They couldn’t pick up the blitz, couldn’t get open and couldn’t protect Vick. I’m not enough of an Xs-and-Os guy to tell you the specifics of how the Eagles changed their protection schemes, but by the fourth quarter they had it humming. Of course it’s always possible that the halftime adjustment was that Reid told Vick, “Hey Mike, if you think you can gain a couple yards, go ahead and tuck it and run.”
The Giants coaches made the biggest mistake of the game (and I’m not even talking about the foolishness of punting to DeSean Jackson with 14 seconds left). When the Birds cut the lead to 31-17 with 7:28 left, any coach with any sense would look at the clock and think, “They might just try an onside kick here, while there is still some element of surprise”. Yet when David Akers uncorked the trick kick, all the Giants were rushing backwards. Riley Cooper had one of the easiest onside recoveries you’ll see in a spot where the Giants should have been on guard. And another thing about Tom Coughlin, I liked how at the end of the game he made sure to show up his punter while the cameras were still on him, running onto the field to yell at the guy. Coughlin had to make sure everyone knew he’d told the guy to kick it out of bounds. Jerkoff.
So there goes the division. In the immortal words of Mel Brooks, it’s good to be the king. The Igs need one home win against Minny or Dallas to take the NFC East. Maybe this team doesn’t have enough healthy defenders to win a Super Bowl, and they lost another Sunday when safety Nate Allen went down. But an unstoppable offense can score a lot of points, and you may not need the greatest defense in the world to win a title.