Since 2006, the Philadelphia Eagles have often won close games that should have been easier. This caught up with them at the year’s end and ruined chances for the Super Bowl. Lopsided victories are a pleasure to watch, being easier on the fans. Resting regulars and playing reserves is a real luxury. This lessens the likelihood of injuries; and if injuries occur, a team can cope with them better. The record is before the games described in 2009.
New York Giants (5-2) at Philadelphia (4-2)
Although this was a one sided game, Philadelphia made one critical mistake. The score was 33 to 10 in the Eagles favor midway in the third quarter. The Eagles were receiving the kickoff kick after the Giants kicked a field goal. Jason Babin made an awkward attempt to get the ball at Philadelphia 30. Babin slipped and the Giants covered the ball. A few plays later, Ahmad Bradshaw made a one yard touchdown plunge. With the score 33 to 17, the fans started getting the jitters. Shady McCoy put the game away with a 60 yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. The Philadelphia Eagles won 40 to 17 but 40 to 10 is easier sooner.
Washington Redskins (3-7) at Philadelphia (6-4)
In the first quarter, Donovan McNabb threw a two yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson tying the game at 7-We thought. A holding penalty nullified that play and the Eagles settled for a field goal and a 7 to 3 score. With 10 minutes left in the third quarter, Philadelphia led 16 to 14. The Eagles’ defensive line had Redskin Quarterback Jason Campbell surrounded and primed for a sack at midfield. The slightest hesitation can really hurt. Somehow Campbell escaped and fired a 35 yard completion to the 15. This led to a go ahead touchdown and swung the momentum to Washington. The Eagles won 27 to 24 on a last minute field goal; but they were putting roadblocks in their own way.
Philadelphia (8-4) at the New York Giants (7-5)
One play could have really opened the floodgates at the Meadowlands. It also showed how a once great linebacker can fall off as he gets older. Enthusiasm for the game only goes so far. With four minutes remaining in the first quarter, Philadelphia had a 14 to 0 lead. Eli Manning threw a pass from the Eagles 40 to Kevin Boss at the 20. Jeremiah Trotter had the ball in his hands. He seemed to be flipping the ball between each one. Finally, the ball flipped to Kevin Boss, who caught the pass and it returned it to the 20. This set up a field goal and the Giants started moving the ball consistently thereafter. New York even led 31 to 30 early in the fourth quarter. Jeremiah Trotter, just three years earlier, would have made the interception look easy and gone a long way; maybe even scoring a touchdown. Once again, a muff made the victory needlessly difficult. Final-Eagles 45 Giants 38.
Denver Broncos (8-6) at Philadelphia (10-6)
This was almost one man give away. Fans were ready to wrap it up with three minutes left in the third quarter. With the Philadelphia Eagles leading 27 to 10, Asante Samuel intercepted a pass and returned it to the 50. Macho Harris was clipping after the pick and this moved the ball to the two. This was the only game I can remember where a team gained momentum after throwing an interception. The Eagles didn’t move the ball, Denver got good field position after the punt, and scored a touchdown. Macho Harris fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Denver recovered, and scored a touchdown. The tying field goal came the next time Denver was on offense. The announcer said this game was getting interesting. I preferred a dull win. Donovan McNabb ran for a first down on a third and 20. This was one of the best plays of the 09 season. The Eagles still had to punt but this time the defense stopped Denver. McNabb threw to Jeremey Maclin and this set up the winning score.
The Philadelphia Eagles won 30 to 27. Nevertheless, the soft spots were obvious in these four games. The mistakes caught up with the Eagles in the next two losses at Dallas. 24 to 0 regular season; 34 to 14 in the playoffs.