EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - When you're playing without five starters like the Eagles were last night, there are some things you can't do if you hope to
have any chance of winning.
One, of course, is give up 12 sacks. Another is commit a truckload of penalties.
Coach Andy Reid's team never has been very good at that second one.
They led the league in penalty yards last season, getting flagged 112 times for 983 yards. Managed to win their fifth division
title in 6 years, but lost a couple of big games along the way because of their lack of discipline.
Remember Trent Cole's attempted groin kick of Giants right tackle Kareem McKenzie in that 30-24 Week 2 overtime defeat? Remember Jerome McDougle's costly
impersonation of David Akers with that
penalty flag in their 23-21 loss to Tampa Bay last October?
On the way to last night's ugly, 16-3 loss
to the Giants, the Eagles committed an
unpardonable 15 penalties for 132 yards. It began, innocently enough, with a first-quarter offsides on defensive tackle Mike Patterson and ended with quarterback Donovan McNabb having a late touchdown pass to Reggie Brown negated because he was past the line of scrimmage when he threw it.
The Eagles' 15 penalties against the Giants were more than they had in any game last season. So were the 132 penalty yards. Their 253 penalty yards in the first four games are the third-most in the league. Only Baltimore (267) and Dallas (266) have more.
Besides McNabb's late goof, no penalty was more costly than a pass-interference call on cornerback William James late in the third quarter.
With the Giants up just 7-0, wide receiver Amani Toomer got a step on James on a deep post route. James knocked him down at the 10-yard line and the yellow flag quickly came out, giving the Giants a 37-yard gain and a first down. The Eagles' defense, which gave up just 16 first downs and
212 net yards in the loss, held. But Lawrence Tynes booted a 29-yard field goal to give the Giants a 10-0 lead.
The Eagles wasted little time giving the zebras reason to throw their hankies last night. They were flagged 10 times for 70 yards in the first half, including three
offsides penalties on linemen Cole, Juqua Thomas and Patterson.
Cole's misstep came late in the second quarter on a third-and-7 play at the Eagles 26-yard line. That took the Giants out of an obvious passing situation. Running back Derrick Ward picked up a first down on a 6-yard run right after that. Fortunately for the Eagles, linebacker Omar Gaither intercepted an Eli Manning pass intended for tight end Jeremy Shockey moments later to spoil the scoring drive.
Why Andy Reid didn't give struggling left tackle Winston Justice more blocking help with Osi Umenyiora, when it became evident fairly early on that
Justice was no match for the
Giants' Pro Bowl right end.
Umenyiora had six of his team's 12 sacks. The Giants' other Pro Bowl end, Michael Strahan,
wondered the same thing after the game. "Go help the young kid," he said. "I'm 35. [Jon] Runyan is an All-Pro. He didn't need help. I feel for [Justice]."
Why defensive coordinator Jim Johnson didn't have his tallest cornerback, Will James, shadow the 6-5 Plaxico Burress. Johnson kept James on the left side and 5-9 1/2 Sheldon Brown on the right, which put Brown on Burress in the end zone on his 9-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
To Giants punter Jeff Feagles, who showed why he still has a job in this league at age 41 when he put two second-half punts
inside the 5-yard line. He had one downed at the 2 and the
other at the 4. *
Did you notice
Giants left tackle David Diehl did an excellent job on Eagles right end Trent Cole, who came into the game with a league-best five sacks. He occasionally got blocking help from
a tight end or running back, but for the most part, he had Cole by himself and repeatedly forced him away from quarterback Eli Manning.
His broken hand healed, A.J. Feeley backed up Donovan McNabb last night and Kevin Kolb was the No. 3 quarterback.
Kevin Curtis dropped a second-and-10 slant pass from McNabb on the Eagles' second possession that would have given them a first down inside the Giants' 30. They ultimately were forced to punt.
Sav Rocca's poor 25-yard punt in the first quarter. It had 4.68-second hang time and had to be fair-caught. But he punted from midfield.
Plaxico Burress used his nearly 8-inch height advantage over Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown on his 9-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Brown had good position in front of Burress in the
end zone. But Giants quarterback Eli Manning put the throw up high and Burress was able to grab it over Brown's outstretched arms.
Takeo Spikes looked an awful lot like the '06 version of Jeremiah Trotter in the second quarter when
he tried to tackle Giants fullback Madison Hedgecock in space after he caught a pass in the flat. Hedgecock is no Tiki Barber and should have been held to a 2-yard gain, but ran away from Spikes and picked up 9.
The false-start penalty on McNabb in the second half.
Manning ran Omar Gaither down after his second-quarter interception and forced him out of bounds, saving a touchdown.
McNabb had just 14 net passing yards in the first half. He threw for just 44 yards and was sacked five times for 30 yards in losses.
The Eagles had to squander a timeout 2 minutes into the fourth quarter when they didn't have 11 players on the field.
The Eagles converted just two of 11 third-down plays of 5 yards or more. For the season, they are 6-for-36 in third-and-5-or-more situations.
Last week, Donovan McNabb had five completions of 20 yards or more. Against the Giants, he had zero. His longest completion was 15 yards.
The Eagles are 2-4 in their last six games against the Giants. Since 2000, they are 9-5.
Since '04, the Eagles are 3-4 in games that Brian Westbrook sat out because of injury.
Eagles tight ends have just 11 receptions for 97 yards and no touchdowns in four games. Through four games last season, they had 21 catches for 306 yards and one TD.
Wide receiver Reggie Brown has just eight receptions for 81 yards in four games. Last year after four games, he had 11 for 212 and two touchdowns.
With just one sack against the Giants, the Eagles have 15 in their first four games. Last year, they had 16 at this point.
McNabb's 138 passing yards were his fewest since throwing for 131 against Dallas on Oct. 9, 2005.
McNabb has failed to throw a touchdown pass in two of the last three games.