Thursday, December 18, 2014

Eagles collapse

It was a day that had trainwreck written all over it, almost from the beginning. It was Eagles and 49ers and dropped balls and gray skies and bizarre plays and bodies littering the road.

Eagles collapse

Eagles kicker Alex Henery missed two field goals against the 49ers. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Eagles kicker Alex Henery missed two field goals against the 49ers. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

It was a day that had trainwreck written all over it, almost from the beginning. It was Eagles and 49ers and dropped balls and gray skies and bizarre plays and bodies littering the road.

And it was as bad a loss as many Eagles fans can rememeber. The Eagles blew a 20-point lead in the third quarter, wasted more than 500 yards of total offense and lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 24-23.

Even when the Eagles took a 20-3 lead at halftime, and led by 23-3 in the third quarter, they looked just so unimpressive in the process -- and they had collapsed so badly the previous two games -- that everybody in Lincoln Financial Field was looking up for the falling safe. Rapidly, it came into view.

Joshua Morgan caught a 30-yard touchdown pass. Vernon Davis caught a 9-yard touchdown pass. Alex Henery missed a 39-yard field goal and then he missed a 33-yard field goal, both wide right, both dismal. And as the fourth quarter began to wind down, the Eagles were hanging on, hanging on, hangng on to a 23-17 lead.

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It is such an odd team right now. Michael Vick, wearing the Kevlar glove on his non-throwing hand, looked great -- running, throwing, the whole Vick experience. He set a career record for passing yards with 416. DeSean Jackson, after such a quiet start to the season, made several huge, long catches (while also dropping a couple of others). And on defense, as his fellow lineman have begun to drop from injury -- Trent Cole went off on a cart in the fourth quarter, and his loss would be devastating -- Jason Babin had three more sacks and conjured up all kinds of terror in the 49ers' backfield.

But the rest is still so messy. The red-zone offense, especially around the goal line, is an ongoing disaster -- with Ronnie Brown earning a spot in the bizzaro-world hall of fame by somehow trying to throw a ball to no one while being stopped near the goal line on a running play and losing a fumble. On the other side of the ball, the linebacker switch (from Casey Matthews to Brian Rolle) did not fix the problem. Neither did the safety switch (from Kurt Coleman to Nate Allen). And as for Nnamdi Asomugah, the big-money free-agent cornerback acquisition, he just doesn't look like that kind of a player right now. He doesn't look like nearly that kind of a player.

So, anyway, through all of that, it was 23-17 as the fourth quarter was winding down. With 3:00 left, Frank Gore scored on a 12-yard run. The play was reviewed, and it was determined that Gore was in. The extra point by former Eagles kicker David Akers -- who already had missed one field goal and had another one blocked -- gave the 49ers a 24-23 lead.

Three minutes left, then. With the Eagles driving, Jeremy Maclin and his sore hamstring caught a 17-yard pass, got caught from behind by defensive tackle Justin Smith and stripped of the ball. The 49ers recovered the fumble and the stands, already somewhat emptied, were the scene of fleeing. Except for the people who stayed behind and chanted, "Let's go Phillies...Let's go Phillies..."

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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 hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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