102 yards to vindication
Lito Sheppard 102 yard INT return for TD vs Cowboys
It may be that I'm just hyped up after the win, maybe I'm delirious, maybe I had one too many Heinekens... But in talking to alot of Eagles fans during and after that game... We just witnessed one of, if not the greatest regular season win in Eagles history.
This game was billed like a game for the ages and for once it absolutely lived up to it. It was back and forth, it was dramatic, it was intense. It was epic. What was so great about it is that all these great performances turned in by the Eagles were magnified by the fact that this was a great game. We didn't blow out Dallas, this wasn't a laugher where one team didn't show up... Dallas showed up, they gave the Eagles everything they had. The Eagles were just better, their guys just made plays.
I'm so in the moon over this game I'm going to just hand out some kudos and "I told you So's"
Lito Sheppard - The Cowboys and their fans were salivating over what they precieved as their greatest strength(WR) against out greatest weakness(CB) and they were right to do so. The CB play has been abysmal so far, but not tonight. Sheldon Brown was good, Joselio Hanson looked like a real football player... but the star of the night was Lito Sheppard. He returned after being injured all year and most of the preseason and made an impact like I've never seen. He played the absolute game of his life. 2 picks, including the dramatic final INT he returned for the TD to end it. TO could get no seperation from him and was blanketed by Lito all night. The guy was even laying big hits on Witten and Julius Jones when he got the chance! I was in awe of Lito tonight. As the game was ending after the INT, FOX got a great shot of Andy smiling ear to ear and hugging Lito. ANdy never shows emotion, especially after a regular season game... but he felt what we all did tonight and he couldn't help it.
Donovan McNabb - To say that McNabb is having his greatest season, to say that he's an inspiring leader is an understatement to what this guy has done. In a game where he was under a microscope to a degree he hasn't seen since the superbowl. Without his #1 WR he lit up the Cowboys talented secondary to the tune of 354 yards and 2 TDS. He was crisp all night and never gave up or got down, despite the fact that he had at least 5 or 6 perfect passes dropped. The drive he engineered after the Cowboys tied it up and with less than 10 minutes left McNabb took a flea flicker and threw a perfect strike to Reggie Brown for a TD. Right now, I think few people would pick any QB in the NFL to win a game over McNabb. He is playing on a different level.
Pass Rush - The Eagles sacked Bledsoe 7 times with all 7 sacks coming from defensive lineman. Darren Howard was a beast who absolutely imposed his will up and down the line. He made plays from the DT spot, the DE spot... He lived up to everything we hoped he'd be when the Eagles made him the centerpiece of their free agent aquisitions. He got 2 sacks and forced a Bledsoe fumble. Darwin Walker had 3 sacks and brought relentless pressure up the middle, Trent Cole got his league leading 6th sack, and Juqua Thomas got a big sack late. They were in Bledsoe's face all day and forced mistake after mistake. In all, Bledsoe turned the ball over 4 times thanks in no small part to the pressure brought by the front four. I bet Bledsoe is regretting daring the Eagles to blitz him before the game... Just for fun, look no further than our own diares to hear Cowboy fans crowing about how great their offensive line is this year and how "overrated" our pass rush is. They also went on about how overrated McNabb is...
TO - What a complete letdown, gutless, typical performance he put on today. The hype on him, McNabb, and this game overall was to a level we've never seen and Owens simply didn't answer the call. What we saw on the field tells me that the old TO is gone. You can not deny that with the Niners and with the Eagles, TO was best when the spotlight was the brightest. He was the best in big spots and big games when he was here. He was a shell of his former self today. From a few blatant drops, to his inability to get any seperation downfield, his inevitable tirades on the sidelines, and finally to his embarassing alligator arms with Michael Lewis looming. TO was always a gamer, he never was scared of hits. He was scared today. Bledsoe lead him with a pass over the middle in the 3rd quarter that he clearly pulled up for and let go when he saw that Michael Lewis had him lined up. In fact, you could see Lewis shake his head in dissapointment. In the end, TO was a total non factor but you already saw signs that the cancer that is TO is spreading in that organization. Check it this quote from Jerry Jones following the game. This is how TO does it, he gets in people's ears and he demands that the offense be centered around him.
Were you Jerry? "Our" plan? Is that what you had to tell the crybaby when he was whining to you after the game? It wasnt your fault that you dropped balls, were scared of hits, and couldn't get seperation TO...
This thing is over, and we got the last laugh.
Kudos to Andy for a great coaching performance, kudos to every player for a historic team effort. There were things that concerned me, but that's for later this week. Tonight is a night for celebration.