Ex-Eagles and Giants assistant Steve Spagnuolo is the new coach in St. Louis, and he has close ties to former coworkers in Philadelphia.
The Eagles' season has ended in the NFc Championship Game for the fourth time in the last 8 years. The Cardinals are heading to their first Super Bowl and await the AFC champion.
Updating: The Eagles move the ball to the Cardinals' 47 with a little more than 2 minutes remaining. The next four plays -- all from the shotgun formation -- lead to four incompletions, capped by a questionable pass interference non-call at 1:57.
Updating: Cards just drove 72 yards in 14 plays for their only second-half points, giving them a 32-25 lead. It was the first defensive touchdown the Eagles have given up since the Giants scored in the Dec. 7 game at Giants Stadium.
Previously: Wow. The Eagles are winning, 25-24, having scored 19 second half points to the Cards' 0. The go-ahead TD was a 62-yard bomb from Donovan McNabb to DeSean Jackson, which might have ticked off Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's hands before Jackson juggled it twice, then hugged it, dancing into the end zone.
But is this any more improbable than the drive to the playoffs? Shouldn't we have Getting scary here, to the Cards' fans in University of Phoenix Stadium. All three of 'em. (We kid.) Sixty-one yards, six plays, 31-yard TD pass to secret weapon Brent Celek. David Akers missed the extra point, and no., we don't have time to look up the last time that happened (edit: We just did, thanks to the fan who ran on the field, it was Dec. 19, 2004), but the difference between 24-20 and 24-19, which the score is right now, doesn't seem significant. Eagles have life entering the fourth quarter.
Updating: OK, the Eagles just drove 90 yards in 13 plays, converting three huge third downs, including a 49-yard strike to Kevin Curtis. Brent Celek scored the TD on a 6-yard pass from Donovan McNabb.
Can the Eagles still make a game of this? The defense has a lot of fixing to do, to give the offense a chance.
Updating: Neil Rackers' 49-yard field goal was the cherry on top of a disastrous first half for the Eagles. They trail 24-6 and their defense has shown no sign it can stop Arizona long enough for the offense to come close to catching up, even if the offense looked inclined to do that.
The 15-yard penalty Quintin Demps took for blindsiding Kurt Warner, helping set up the final field goal of the half, showed you the Eagles coming apart in frustration.
This is pretty much the exact opposite of the Thanksgiving game, except the Eagles aren't turning the ball over the way the Cards did, they're just getting out-executed, up and down the field.
Previously: The Cardinals have outscored the Birds' two previous playoff opponents already, and there is still 3:06 left in the second quarter. That's not good. So far, the Cards have the right answer to everything. Every blitz is met with a perfectly executed dumpoff, every run gains yardage. The Eagles are getting blocked up front, no pressure from their front four, and when they bring extra men, even if they're close to Kurt Warner, they aren't bothering him nearly enough.
Warner just led a 9-play, 73-yard drive, throwing a 1-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald's third touchdown catch of the half.
Then the Birds might have gotten a big break when Victor Abiamiri was ruled to be out of bounds when he touched the kickoff, downing a ball that the Cards eventually recovered. If Abiamiri touched the ball after it bounced, as seemed likely on replay, it was the right call.
Previously: 14-6 after David Akers' 33-yarder, but the Eagles should have gotten a first down and three more cracks on their third and 6 play from Arizona's 15; Jason Avant was blatantly held by corner Ralph Brown. Andy Reid was out on the field after the field goal, no doubt expressing his views on this matter.
Bad call or no, the Eagles are going to need to score some touchdowns today. Sooner would be better.
Previously: This is not looking good at all. Quintin Demps fell on the flea-flicker and Kurt Warner connected on a long floater to Larry Fitzgerald, 62 yards for a 14-3 Arizona lead with 13:19 left in the first half. This was the first snap after David Akers' streak of 19 successive postseason field goals ended with a 47-yarder that fell short. Sav Rocca seemed upset with himself afterward; there could have been a problem with the hold. Maybe when FOX stops showing celebrating Cardinals and commericals, we'll find out, but don't hold your breath.
Previously: Well, the Cards' opening drive was not encouraging to the visitors. Nine plays, 80 yards, big holes for Edgerrin James, all the time in the world for Kurt Warner to throw across the middle to Larry Fitzgerald (9 yards for the TD) and Anquan Boldin. Jim Johnson, who seems to be coaching from the press box again, is going to need to make some adjustments.
But a 21-yard Donovan McNabb scramble keyed an Eagles drive for a 45-yard David Akers field goal, and it's 7-3, with 4:43 left in the first. Maybe the defense had time to look over what the Cards' offense is doing and figure it out? We'll see soon.
Previously: Greetings from lovely Glendale, a place that makes you appreciate how flat and desolate the desert can be, once you're away from those lovely mountains that are sprinkled around Phoenix.
The roof is closed here at cavernous University of Phoenix Stadium. This seems to be OK with David Akers, who just hit from 58 yards.
If the Eagles lose today, expect a lot of speculation about coaching staff moves, triggered by the hiring of Steve Spagnuolo as the new head coach of the Rams. Spagnuolo just spent two seasons with the Giants, preceded by eight with the Eagles. Guess with which group of ex-coworkers he might have deeper ties? Already, there is widespread speculation that Birds quarterback coach Pat Shurmur, who was rumored to be leaving last year to be John Harbaugh's offensive coordinator in Baltimore, could go with Spagnuolo. Shurmur has been with Andy Reid since the beginning, three years as tight ends coach followed by seven with the QBs.
Also, secondary coach Sean McDermott has deep ties with Spagnuolo. McDermott, who played at LaSalle High and William and Mary, has served in several roles since joining the Eagles' staff in 2000.
Meanwhile, the list of inactives is up and there are no surprises. Reggie Brown must have lost the coin flip with Greg Lewis, because GLew is up and Reggie is down. The Eagles will have to try to advance to the Super Bowl without the services of Lorenzo Booker, Dimitri Patterson, Joe Mays, Bryan Smith, Shawn Andrews and Matt Schobel, as well.
The Cards are scratching corner Eric Green, fullback Tim Castille, linebacker Victor Hobson, OT Elliot Vallejo, OT Brandon Keith, DT Alan Branch and TE Jermane Tuman.
The Cards will be wearing red jerseys today, Iggles in road white.
Stay tuned for updates.