There's moral victories at this point in the season. We had a shot to win a game we probably shouldn't have been in... but who really cares? We needed a win tonight and didn't get it.
Not putting the ball in McNabb's hands = Inexcusable
John Madden put it best. The Eagles offense is McNabb throwing the ball. The Eagles offense is not the power run game. So for Reid to call two run plays with the game on the line and not put the ball in the hands of his QB to win it is inexcusable. For better or worse passing is who we are. To not put the game in the hands of Donovan McNabb on those last two plays was unbelievable. He started the game of wild as he is sometimes known to do... but by the end he had the hot hand. To not put the ball in the hands not just of your franchise player, your leader on offense, but the guy that happened to have the hot hand is unbelievable. "Unbelievable," I used that word quite a bit tonight. Among other words....
When you don't bother to establish a run game all game long how can you possibly expect to win the game running the ball?
A few telling numbers
219. That's the number of rushing yards the Eagles gave up tonight. Tough to win games in this league when you give up 219 yards rushing.
3. The number of times the Giants were forced to punt. Tough to win games in this league where you only force the opponent to punt three times.
7 for 15. That was the Giants' 3rd down efficiency. When take into account the fact that two of those failed 3rd downs became field goals and one was converted on 4th down.... it looks even worse. Tough to win... well, you get the pattern.
Bottom line is that the defense got rolled. Could the offense have not had a few key 3 and outs? Absolutely. That didn't help at all... but the fact is that you can't blame the poor job agianst the run tonight on the defense being tired. They got run over early in the game when they were fresh...
The weakness against the run is easy to see
We saw the same problems tonight as we did against teams like Washington and San Fran. When teams run to the edges on us they beat us. I saw a stat tonight that said the Giants averaged over 6 yards a carry running off either edge, but averaged less than 3 running up the middle. We've seen this problem all year. Generally, Bradley and the two DTs do a solid job of absorbing runs up the gut, but the defense ends and outside linebackers routintely get sealed off on runs to the edge.
Perhaps... just perhaps, maybe asking smaller faster DEs to routinely get off blocks to stop the run is unwise? Just a thought.
The one man who can shut down Brian Westbrook
His name is Andy Reid. The announcers tonight kept going on about how the Giants "shut down" Brian Westbrook. Did they do a nice job against when he got the ball? Sure. The fact is however, he was only handed the ball thirteen times. Before the two minute warning of the 4th quarter he'd only run the ball eleven times. Eleven times? How is any running back expected to do anything when he rushes the ball eleven times before the two minute warning?
The reality is...
We're 5-4. That puts us in last place in a division where we've lost three games to all three division rivals. A win tonight would have left us still completely in control of our own destiny... tonight is likely to leave us needing help. To have any chance of winning tiebreakers or getting to that magic 10 win number... we're going to need to win all or most of remaining division games. Two of those three games are on the road, which does no bode well for our chances. At this point, we have to start rooting hard for Dallas and the Redskins to lose bad games from here on out, while in the meantime keeping an eye on teams like Carolina, Tampa, and Atlanta who are in all decent shape for wildcard berths themselves.
Outside of the division, we only have two games left against teams with losing records. One is next week Cincy, the other is at home to Cleveland on December 15th... The road to the playoffs is starting to look very difficult.