Brian Westbrook has spent this season trying to ignore the pain in several parts of his body, from his knee to his ankle to his ribs. He has been a mainstay on the injury report and his practice time has been limited, especially whenever the Eagles practice on turf inside. As you watched him at various points during Sunday afternoon, you couldn’t help but wonder.
In the first quarter, might he have cut to his right for a big gain rather than plow straight ahead for a minimal one? On third-and-1 in the third quarter, might that first down have been a touchdown? In the fourth quarter, might he have plowed that final inch into the end zone?
He is the Eagles’ version of Chase Utley, and we may never know how hurt he is until after this magical playoff run ends. Yet, Westbrook shares another important characteristic with the Phillies’ second baseman: Through it all — through the pain and the frustration and the periods of statistical impotence — he continues to be a factor.
"I try to continue to help this team no matter what role it is,” Westbrook said. “Of course, I see the way defenses are playing when I am in the backfield, where I am split out. You see a lot of attention being paid to me, and that is definitely a compliment for that to happen ... If a team focuses solely on me, then we have other guys on this team that can make plays, and they did that today.”
Westbrook was held to 46 rushing and receiving yards by the Giants. He averaged just 2.3 yards per touch. The question is: Can the Eagles manage to keep winning with such poor production from their star?
Here are some other things we are talking about in the aftermath of the Eagles' victory:
Staying with the run. The Eagles only averaged 2.1 yards per carry against the Giants, but Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg stayed with the run. The Eagles ran the ball 28 times.
Can the Eagles stop the Cardinals’ red-hot passing game? The Eagles haven’t given up a passing touchdown in the last five games. But Kurt Warner threw three of them in the Eagles’ Thanksgiving night win over the Cardinals.
Those touchdown-saving tackles. Cornerback Sheldon Brown made a touchdown-saving shoestring tackle on Brandon Jacobs at the tailend of a 24-yard run in the second quarter, and wide receiver Kevin Curtis saved a TD when he tripped up Giants defensive tackle Fred Robbins after he intercepted a pass early in the third quarter.
How ’bout this defense? The Eagles didn’t exactly shut down Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward (138 combined rushing yards), but they stopped them when they had to, holding the Giants to seven rushing first downs. They also held Eli Manning to 5.8 yards per attempt.
To read previous posts ...
Paul Domowitch's Eagles-Giants report card
Andy Reid's postgame thoughts
Les Bowen's rundown of the game as it happened