Thursday, February 11, 2016

Back to the playoffs

Last year, it took a miracle for the Eagles to make the playoffs -- a three-cushion bank shot on the last day of the season, an event no one could have predicted.

Back to the playoffs

Donovan McNabb celebrated after LeSean McCoy´s one-yard touchdown run during the fourth quarter. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Donovan McNabb celebrated after LeSean McCoy's one-yard touchdown run during the fourth quarter. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Last year, it took a miracle for the Eagles to make the playoffs -- a three-cushion bank shot on the last day of the season, an event no one could have predicted.

This year, despite the occasional hiccup, has been so much smoother. This year, the Eagles are in the playoffs with two games remaining following a 27-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Now, only two questions remain: 1) will the 10-4 Eagles be able to win the NFC East and get a home game in the playoffs and, 2) will a spate of snowball throwing from the stands in the fourth quarter become a note among the national commentariat or a cause celebre?

Questions, questions. The Eagles were not exactly methodical against the 49ers. Donovan McNabb threw two interceptions and was off on several other throws, ending a month of excellence. But he still threw for 306 yards and hit one huge play, a 59-yard pass to the uncoverable DeSean Jackson on a third-and-2 play, flipping the field and ultimately ending up with a touchdown by LeSean McCoy that snuffed out San Francisco’s last realistic chance at pulling the upset.

On the day after 23.2 inches of snow fell in Philadelphia, the field was pretty pristine at Lincoln Financial Field and the stands were, well, more pristine on the north side of the stadium than they were on the south side. The south side, behind the Eagles’ bench, is where most of the snowballs came from. Most were delivered without malicious intent, except for one brief stretch when some people dressed in 49ers garb were the targets, and another time when the officials were the target after a flag went against the Eagles. Seeing as how the officials were standing among Eagles people on their bench at the time, this wasn’t exactly the smartest act the citizenry ever perpetrated.

But back to the game. In some ways, it should have been easier. At the same time, it really was pretty comfortable throughout. The Eagles spent the third quarter wandering around a bit, and the 49ers cut their deficit to a touchdown, but then they hit the big play to Jackson and that was that. Jackson is now the first Eagles receiver to have back-to-back games with at least 140 receiving yards since Mike Quick did it in 1985.

More coverage
Photos: Eagles 27, 49ers 13
Moving the Chains: Ready for Dawkins Week?
Phil Sheridan: Birds' defense gets job done
Bob Ford: Jackson is Eagles' man of action

Those big plays are the big difference between last year’s offense and this year’s offense -- really, between last year’s team and this year’s team. That, and the relative ease with which they have reached the post-season.

Daily News Executive Sports Editor
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About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at Reach Rich at

Rich Hofmann Daily News Executive Sports Editor
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