Quick observations on an ugly Eagles loss:
-- You're facing a fourth down and one on the Giants' 43. You're up two points with a little less than 12 minutes left in the game. You're defense has bottled up New York for nearly two quarters. And you go for it and you're dropped for a 3-yard loss. The Giants take over, with great field position, and go the other way for a touchdown and take a 22-16 lead with 8:07 to go. No matter the outcome, a risky, risky decision there by Eagles coach Andy Reid.
-- Sometimes it helps to be lucky. When Michael Vick was running for a would-be first down in the third quarter -- and why would you call a run play for a quarterback that gets hit too often? -- the ball popped out and into the hands of Jason Peters. The tackle ran for an additional seven yards and after he was tackled could be seen smiling on the ground. Peters doesn't recover that fumble and there weren't going to be many smiles at Lincoln Financial Field.
-- Bad home debut for Nnamdi Asomugha. He missed Victor Cruz on the wide receiver’s 74-yard touchdown catch and run, and got outmuscled by the smaller man for a huge scoring catch in the fourth quarter. That’s not supposed to happen to one of the best corners in the game. On Ahmad Bradshaw’s game-sealing touchdown, Asomugha was completely blocked out of the play
-- With a first and goal at the Giants two yard line in the third quarter, the Eagles tried runs up the middle on four straight plays (they got an extra because of a Giants offsides). None worked. It was a strange time to go out of character for a team that likes to throw the ball. They had to settle for a field goal.
-- He didn’t go conservative this time, but you still have to wonder about the play call that had Mike Kafka throwing deep on his first snap in the game. The Eagles had just gone behind, 22-16, and on the next play Kafka lobbed a deep pass to DeSean Jackson. Aaron Ross settled underneath and picked it off. Kafka has to know better than to try that throw, and the Eagles need to find a middle ground between throwing underneath all day and asking your quarterback to make a huge play on his first snap.
-- The defense gave up two fourth quarter touchdowns again – though this time they were both on short drives, one after the Eagles went for it on fourth down and failed, and once after Kafka threw his interception. Still, giving up 35 last week and 29 this week is not what the Eagles thought they were getting from their defense when they went on their summer spending spree.
Some quick-hit observations on the Eagles-Giants first half:
-- We already knew Casey Matthews wasn't much of a run-stopper -- at least at this early point in his career. Moved from the middle linebacker to weak-side this past week, the rookie failed his first test when he bit on a play-fake and failed to react to a sideline-streaking Brandon Jacobs. Forty yards later the Giants led, 7-0, and the Matthews boobirds had more ammunition. Once again it's hard to finger all the blame at a first-year linebacker that is all of sudden learning another new position on the fly. Matthews later appeared to be limping and came out of the game. Brian Rolle filled in.
-- So, about paying back your old team. Steve Smith did it, but not in the way he might have imagined. On a third and six from the Giants 19 Smith couldn't hold on to a Mike Vick pass, instead tipping it into the air and allowing Aaron Ross to grab New York's first pick of the season. The Giants took the ball the length of the field for the game's opening touchdown
-- How many people were holding their breath when Jason Pierre-Paul hit Vick? The defensive end had raced past Jason Peters and LeSean McCoy, and even though he missed Vick the first time around, no one picked him up and he got the quarterback on try number two. Pierre-Paul’s helmet slammed into Vick’s. The QB was OK, but it feels like we’ll be watching this high-wire act that is thrilling and frightening all day – if not all season.
-- Pierre-Paul, by the way, has looked like a handful, for all of you draft second-guessers out there.
-- The nasty atmosphere was here. DeSean Jackson and Antrel Rolle got into it along the Giants sideline. A few plays later it was Rolle and Brent Celek scuffling. Rolle got a 15-yard penalty for that one. By the end of the half there seemed to be shoving after every other play.
-- Jackson lined up at tight end for one play – the Eagles seemed to be trying to hide him and maybe get a coverage mismatch. The third down play went to Clay Harbor for 17 yards and a first down.
-- Kurt Coleman badly missed a tackle on Victor Cruz’s 74-yard touchdown pass, and then ran into Nnamdi Asomugha (who himself had already missed Cruz). On the next series Coleman was on the bench and Nate Allen was in, though that sequence didn’t start so well for the 2010 second rounder. Allen was stiff-armed to the turf by Ahmad Bradshaw.
-- Where would the Eagles be without LeSean McCoy? The back ran 15 times for 88 yards in the first half, with his usual array of jukes and cuts that left unblocked defenders in his wake. His touchdown was a thing of beauty. He left after that play with cramps, but is probable to return, according to the Eagles.
-- Loving the Cullen Jenkins sack dance. Big guys dancing = always entertaining. And he’s done it four times for sacks already.
-- Eli Manning: 9 for 14 with two scores. Didn’t see that coming, though the defense seemed to find its legs later in the half. The two big scores came on getting fooled once, and then badly missing tackles. Fixable problems.
-- Good job by Alex Henery to hit a 38-yard field goal to end the half. The Eagles had mass confusion before the kick and teammates had to yell at Vick to run off the field. Henery was still good.
-- Enough with the trickery already. Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg once again dipped into their deep pocket of trick plays and came up with another dud. In the first quarter, the Eagles had Michael Vick split out wide with running back Ronnie Brown in the shotgun. Running back LeSean McCoy was to Brown's left and that's where the snap went. McCoy was stuck in the in the backfield and only managed three yards. On the next drive, however, eight straight run plays were uncharacteristically dialed up. When you have McCoy in the backfield that's what you do.