Here are my 10 observations from the Eagles' 13-13 tie against the Bengals:
1. Talk about a terrible start. The first quarter was one of the ugliest 15 minutes of football you'll see. Some highlights from the Eagles' end: Donovan McNabb going 1-for-5 for no yards; the offense producing minus-3 yards overall; McNabb fumbling after being sacked; the defense committing three penalties. And for the Bengals: Ryan Fitzpatrick getting sacked twice; two penalties; settling for a field goal after starting out with first-and-goal on the Eagles' 1-yard line.
2. McNabb turned it over four times: three interceptions and a fumble. What hurt the most about the picks was they all came in Cincinnati territory when the Eagles may have been on the verge of at least getting field goals. The first occurred at the Bengals' 22-yard line; the second at the Bengals' 34-yard line; and the third at the Bengals' 36-yard line. McNabb has six interceptions in the past five games. All but one have come in the opponents' territory. Against the Seahawks, he was picked off at the Seattle 18-yard line. And against the 49ers, he was intercepted at the San Francisco 15-yard line.
3. During our live chat, someone asked a simple question: What Eagles players would you say are having really good years? It stumped me. On offense, the only one I could think of was DeSean Jackson. I'm not sure there's another player you could even argue for. Perhaps someone who's able to study the offensive linemen closer than me would make an argument for one of those guys. On defense? Darren Howard came to mind. Arguments could also be made for Juqua Parker, Asante Samuel and Stewart Bradley. But is there anyone I'm missing? It's not a good sign when you can't come up with five players that you'd consider to be having really good seasons. Another simple question: Is there one thing this team does really well? Feel free to chime in on this one.
4. The Eagles had a season-high eight penalties. What was baffling was when they were flagged. Three of the penalties came in the first quarter, and one more on the final play of regulation. Then the Eagles were flagged four times in overtime. On their second possession of OT, the Eagles were penalized three times. Dan Klecko was flagged for a false start; Kevin Curtis was called for offensive pass interference; and the offense was whistled for a delay of game. Later in OT, Sheldon Brown's roughing the passer penalty helped set up the Bengals' field-goal attempt.
5. There's probably no reason to look for bright spots after this one, but I did want to recognize Quintin Mikell's performance. Mikell forced an Antonio Chatman fumble in the second quarter for the defense's only takeaway. Then with 8:16 left in the third quarter, Mikell stuffed Cedric Benson on a third-and-one. And with 1:39 left in the fourth quarter, Mikell broke up a pass intended for Chris Henry on third down. A nice effort overall.
6. The optimist says:
The Phillies are 2008 World Series champs, and pitchers/catchers report on Feb. 14 (Sorry people. Couldn't think of anything else here this week. Please chime in if you've got something for me).
7. The pessimist says:
Is anyone really surprised? It's the same thing every week with this team. A slow start for McNabb and the offense? Check. Failure to convert short-yardage attempts? Check. Inability to establish the run and get Brian Westbrook involved? Check. Chance to win the game with a score at the end comes up short? Check. That's it for the Andy/Donovan era. Time to move on and go in a different direction. It's never been clearer than now. You just tied a 1-8 team when you had to have a win.
8. We've been keeping track of the success of opposing kickers all year. Well, one finally missed. Shayne Graham couldn't convert a 47-yard field-goal attempt in overtime. Up until that kick, opposing kickers were 17 of 17 against the Eagles, with four of those kicks coming from 50 yards or more and seven from 45 yards or more. I guess we can stop keeping track of this now.
9. McNabb and some other Eagles said after the game they didn't know there was only one overtime. How is this possible? The last tie was six years ago. It's not like it was 30 years ago. McNabb was in the league at the time! I don't think this had any effect on the result, but it maybe it would have helped if the offense knew during its final possession that if it didn't score, the Eagles had no chance to win.
10. And I have two more things to say so we're going to utilize the bullet formatting for No. 10:
- What was up with Sav Rocca? With 2:44 left in the fourth quarter, his punt went 17 yards to the Bengals' 34-yard line. With 1:25 left in the fourth, he booted a 31-yarder that gave Cincinnati possession at its own 40. With 7:27 left in OT, his 34-yarder gave Cincy the ball at its own 45. And with 1:50 left in OT, a 37-yarder gave the Bengals the ball at their own 41. Not a good performance.
- McNabb threw 58 times, and Westbrook had three catches for 11 yards. Something about that just doesn't seem right.