Monday, December 22, 2014

Eagles fourth quarter musings

Andy Reid loses more challenges than he wins, but he won a big one after Mario Manningham, for a second time in the game, stepped out of bounds on a touchdown pass.

Eagles fourth quarter musings

Update: Fourth quarter

Andy Reid loses more challenges than he wins, but he won a big one after Mario Manningham, for a second time in the game, stepped out of bounds on a touchdown pass. Sheldon Brown was on the coverage for both of Manningham's failed catches in the end zone. He should send Manningham a Christmas present.

The last would-be catch would've cut the Eagles' lead to seven points with a little more than two minutes to play. Manningham got his left foot in bounds, but the right toes inside his sparkly red shoes went out of bounds.

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Update: Third quarter

The Eagles D has yet to emerge from the locker room. Must be doing their half-time primping. In the third quarter, the Giants bludgeoned the Eagles for 158 yards of offense, 120 through the air. They took the lead for a millisecond, 31-30, on a 61-yard pass play from Eli Manning to Domenik Hixon during which three Eagles failed to tackle Hixon. It was atrocious attempts at tackling. Whiff. Whiff. And whiff.

The Eagles answered on their next offensive play -- to who else but Jackson -- to save the D and re-take the lead, 37-31. But the defense has really struggled. They're not getting much pressure on Manning. Kevin Boss has added his name to the long list of tight ends that have killed the Eagles this season. The Eagles have been better on the goal line. In the open field, the Giants have too much time and too many options.

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Update: Second quarter

Fast does not adequately describe DeSean Jackson. He's a tiny guy, listed at 175 pounds, but only if he has a soaking wet towel draped around his slight shoulders. He's wispy, lean on a heavy day, but the man has unparalleled speed. Once he gets a step, he's gone. And that was the case in the second quarter.

The Giants, well aware of Jackson's gifts, opted to pin Jackson, who leads the NFL in punt return average, near the left sideline on a punt. Jackson danced inside, then got heady blocks from Joselio Hanson and Dimitri Patterson. With a sliver of room, Jackson moved outside, then streaked up the sideline. Once he eluded Jeff Feagles, Jackson was gone for six to give the Eagles a 24-10 lead.

With that 72-yard return for a touchdown, Jackson now holds the Eagles records for career punt returns for a touchdown (three) and touchdowns of at least 50 yards in a season (seven). All nine of Jackson's touchdowns this season have gone for at least 35 yards. He had an 85-yard punt return earlier this season.

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First quarter: After Michael Vick finally found his feet last week against his former team, the Atlanta Falcons, it was fair to wonder if Andy Reid would add to Vick's workload in the coming weeks. Vick has shed some weight, gotten a ton of work before and after practice, and by all accounts has been a dedicated student in the film room. And there was this fascinating glimpse into Vick's motivations, courtesy of a story in the Sunday New York Times: "The ultimate goal is to help Donovan get his Super Bowl ring. And I think he's on his way."

As he did against the Falcons, Reid unveiled Vick early against the Giants. On the Eagles' first drive of the game, Vick came in on a second-and-four play. He faked a handoff, ran a bootleg to his right, then threw a 32-yard strike to DeSean Jackson for a first down. The ball was on the money, and set up the Eagles' first touchdown of the quarter.

Vick has been patient this season, accepting his unorthodoxed role as the Wildcat. It's not what he wants to do, for sure, but he's handled the role with grace, and with no audible frustrating. It seems like his patience is finally starting to pay off.

 

Ashley Fox Inquirer Sports columnist
About this blog
Ashley Fox covers the NFL for The Inquirer. Reach Ashley at amcgeachy@phillynews.com.

Ashley Fox Inquirer Sports columnist
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