Jeff Garcia’s, the choo-choo train that could, improbable resurgence came to an end yesterday. The Philadelphia Eagles fell to a solid New Orleans Saints team 27-24. This match up had all the right ingredients for one of those inspired sports stories.
The Eagles had a special season, to say the least. After expecting to dominate the early part of the season they went 4-4 instead. Then Donovan McNabb tore his ACL and was out for the season. Experts thought the Eagles were done for the season too. Then something happened. A phoenix, rather than an eagle, took over the QB duties and lead the Eagles to yet another NFC East title and right into the playoffs. Suddenly, the Eagles had a shot at the Super Bowl.
It’s hard to criticize the Eagles’ somewhat rocky season. The depth of the team was clear. All year they had to battle injuries. The coaching staff did all the right things to adjust and overcome various obstacles. Though I questioned why, against the Saints, Andy Reid simply did not go for it on 4th and 15 with two minutes left in the game. Garcia proved since he took over that he had some David Copperfield abilities in him. Then again, it’s not the first time I’ve scratched my head with some of Reid’s calls.
ESPN and all the other sports networks will dissect the game very well. So I’ll keep this minimal. The Eagles were not able to stop the run and they barely could establish their own running game. Not a good combo if you want to win football games. Add that the reliable and stellar Brian Westbrook dropped a couple of balls — and that they couldn’t capitalize on a 2nd and goal opportunity, coming away with field goal instead — and it was not hard to conclude that this was not going to be their night. You can be excused if you think that this was a game of missed chances for the Eagles.
On the other hand, credit goes straight to New Orleans. The incredible march for the New Orleans Saints continues. It’s amazing what an excellent QB like Drew Brees and solid coaching can do to rally a team and city. In the backdrop of a natural disaster the football team rose to help a city ravaged by Katrina heal. What perfect timing for the hapless Saints franchise to become Super Bowl contenders. Hollywood executives are wringing their hands over this one. They must be begging for the Saints to win. They have the script written out.
They also had one for Jeff Garcia. It’s called hedging your bets.