As always, here are my 10 observations from the Eagles' 36-31 loss to the Giants:
1. The play everyone is going to talk about is the apparent Eli Manning illegal forward pass that was challenged by Tom Coughlin and eventually overturned. Here's what it says in the rulebook:
The penalty for a forward pass beyond the line is to be enforced from the spot where the ball is released when the passer’s entire body and the ball are beyond the line of scrimmage. This includes either when the passer is airborne or touching the ground.
As it states in the supplemental notes of Article 1 of Rule 8, the passer's entire body and ball have to be beyond the line of scrimmage. I'll be honest. In all my football-watching days, I did not know this was the rule. If the refs clearly saw that Manning's heel wasn't beyond the line of scrimmage, then this was the right call.
2. I thought this game really lacked the buzz it would warrant during most seasons. The Giants coming to town for a Sunday night game as defending Super Bowl champs. The Eagles having won three in a row. But it wasn't there. Walking around the city Sunday morning and listening to WIP field several calls about the Sixers just four hours before kickoff, something was missing. I can't put my finger on it. Maybe the game snuck up on us too fast after the magical Phillies' run? Maybe it's just been a hectic stretch between baseball and the election? Maybe fans are just sick of the Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb era? I don't know. I just know something was lacking.
3. There is plenty of blame to go around, but the story of the game seemed pretty clear to me: the Eagles' inability to stop the Giants' rushing attack. New York ended up running for 219 yards. Brandon Jacobs had 22 carries for 126 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. If I would have told you those would be his numbers before the game, you'd probably have guessed that the Eagles got blown out.
4. McNabb started out 0-for-6 before completing his first pass. Last week he started out 0-for-7 against the Seahawks. And the week before, he began 2-for-6. That's 2-for-19 at the start of the last three games. Not good.
5. All four of the Eagles' losses this season have been by six points or fewer. Going back to last season, the Birds are 1-9 in their last 10 games decided by six points or fewer.
6. The optimist says...
If you think this season is over, you're not paying attention. Sure, the NFC East will be tough to win, but a wild-card berth is well within reach. The Giants have been the best team in the league, and the Eagles almost stole a win despite not really playing well. Do I need to remind you where the Giants were after Week 10 of last season? They were coming off a 31-20 loss to the Cowboys and sat at 6-3. The name of the game is getting hot and getting healthy at the right time. The Birds still have a run left in 'em, and besides, the Phillies are still World Series champs, right?
7. The pessimist says...
Well, that was a fun season. When do pitchers and catchers report? Why does it seem like every loss this team has suffered over the last two years has been exactly the same? They show just enough flashes to keep you interested, but in the end, Reid makes boneheaded decisions, and the players can't come up with the one or two crucial plays they need. Short-yardage woes? Really? We haven't heard that story before. The defense got pushed around all game. Time to blow it up and start things over.
8. On NBC after the game, Dan Patrick said Tiki Barber was calling out the Eagles' plays during that final drive before they happened. Why does every third-and-two feel like third-and-20? Think about it. You sit there thinking of what play they could run, and none inspire any confidence -- A pass? A run to Westbrook? A QB sneak? NBC delivered the stat that the Eagles are 5-for-14 on rushing attempts on third-and-one and fourth-and-one. I don't have the numbers to back it up, but I'd be willing to bet no team that made the Super Bowl in the last 10 years could compete with that lowly percentage.
9. We all liked the run out of the Wildcat to DeSean Jackson and the fade to Hank Baskett down near the goal line. But please note, had Jackson been stuffed for a loss and fumbled or had the fade been intercepted, we all would have hated these plays.
10. We've been keeping track of opposing field-goal kickers all season. John Carney hit all three of his attempts, although they were from under 30 yards. On the year, opposing field-goal kickers are now 16-for-16 against the Eagles. Four of those kicks are from 50 yards or more and seven are from 45 yards or more. As for where you go from here, the Eagles travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals, and then it's Baltimore and the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. The Birds return home for a Thanksgiving night matchup with the Cardinals before traveling to New Jersey to take on the Giants in Week 14.