Is There Any Such Thing as a Moral Victory?

That’s the question I’m struggling with tonight.

In an immensely entertaining game, the Eagles came in 22-point underdogs (the largest spread for an NFL game in almost 30 years), and lost to the New England Patriots 31-28.

Jim Johnson’s defense didn’t so much “contain” the Patriots’ potent offense, but made it work for its points tonight, something they really hadn’t seemed to have to do since they beat Indianapolis in their (other) tight game.  Randy Moss was constrained to be a non-factor and Coach Hoodie seemed to abandon the run altogether.  The Pats still had plenty of firepower, relying on Wes Welker (WES FRAKKING WELKER!) to make clutch catch after catch.

The biggest surprise though was the efficiency of the Eagles offense.  The Birds were able to often methodically move the ball down the field and get into the end zone for TDs rather than settling for FGs (which has plagued them this season).  AJ Feeley had a good game, throwing the ball with confidence and finding different receivers all night.  Somehow, I don’t think Andy Reid is in a hurry to get Donovan McNabb’s ankle better.  Can you say QB controversy?  Oh yes you can.

In the end though, it came down to two bad INTs from Feeley to Pats CB Asante Samuel that bookended the game and provided enough for the Pats to win.  Feeley’s second pass of the game was intercepted and run back for a TD (and I’m sure brought on a “oh, here we go” feeling to viewers everywhere).  But more damaging was a pick in the end zone on the Eagles’ last serious drive — one in which they were down 3 with 4 minutes left and moving the ball efficiently.  For reasons unclear, Feeley lofted the ball towards the end zone and right to Samuel who looked like he was playing centerfield.  Bad call and/or bad read?  Not sure – probably both – but that sealed it and made a possible season-making victory into an “almost”.

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20 thoughts on “Is There Any Such Thing as a Moral Victory?

  1. The hubby and I were on the edges of our seats and biting our nails for different reasons last night…what an upset that would have been if the birds had pulled it off.

  2. I too was impressed at how hard they made the Pats work for their points. And those two picks did really do the Eagles in…You didn't mention the one touchdown by New England at the end of the first half that looked like it should have been reviewed upstairs but wasn't…that would have changed things up, too.

  3. I'm not much of a sports fan (which makes me a rare bird here in sports-crazed Philly) but after three solid days of watching football at my brother's house over the holiday I was in the mood to watch the game last night. I figured that at some point the Pats would be so far ahead that I could go to bed. Lo and behold there I was at midnight still glued to the tv. Take away that first INT before Feeley got his groove on, and the Birds kick their asses. Really disappointing but a moral victory indeed. Those Pats are pretty scary with that no huddle offense. Somehow they brought The Borg to mind….

  4. I was absolutely floored when Feeley threw to the endzone with just under 4 minutes left. A) They had been catching the short passes underneath all night and they had just picked up to consecutive first downs,B) It was second and four, all you want to do is pick up the first down and let the clock keep running, I believe you have a young man named Westbrook on your team, maybe give him a shot! C) Why are you lobbing the ball into the endzone? I knew that was a gonna be a pick as soon as he threw it and D) Even if they did score, the last thing you want is the ball in Brady's hand with over three minutes left and a chance to win the game. They should have just kepthrowing passes underneath, and occasionally running it, eating up the clock and working their way up the field. Worst comes to worse they have to settle for a field goal and take their chances on a OT coin flip.I was so looking forward to seeing the Pats lose. Guess I'll have to wait until playoffs!

  5. This had to be the best game against the Pats I've seen all season. Riveting! As for A.J. Feeley, I say, keep him in. McNabb lost a lot of esteem in my eyes a couple years ago with his no-hussle performance in the Superbowl.

  6. You know Ross — I was surprised that the refs didn't choose to review that TD at the end of the half (since it was close), though I actually thought he was in and I doubt that they would have reversed it anyway.
    The one that killed me was when the Pats were about to punt and one of their lineman jumped, but in a reeeeaaalllly long conference the refs decided that one of the Eagles had lined up in the neutral zone — extending the Pats drive. Hrmmmm.
    I try not to get too hung up on ref's calls though, I'd get an ulcer!

  7. Skins — yeah, you've summed up my confusion at that call from a strategic point perfectly. Feeley said after that the ball was supposed to get into the back corner of the end zone where either Curtis catches it or its out-of bounds — two problems with that — a) Samuels didn't bite on Curtis' fake and so had great position and b) Feeley underthrew the pass so that it was easily catchable in bounds.

  8. Oh Hapa! You and my old college Roomie are the only Pats fans I know. I actually let myself contemplate the dance of joy that I might have done if they'd pulled it out. How strange that the Eagles' best performance of the year comes in a heart-breaking loss.

  9. Pete & Jacolily — I've said all year that they rushed McNabb back from his injury and that he wasn't 100%. It was a mistake to let Garcia go, and I would have gladly had McNabb wait the first ~10 games before making it back in.
    Now with ANOTHER injury and the team responding well to ANOTHER back-up, I think you have to wonder what Donovan's place is in the team's future.
    Please don't get me wrong though — I've been an advocate for McNabb ever since he was drafted, and has been the best QB the franchise has had — but the injuries are getting tough to manage and the baggage is getting heavier. It might be best for both the team and for him to find a new home.

  10. This may have been the only game all season where I was rooting for the Eagles. If they could have only scored on more time. It's not that I hate the patriots, but I don't want them to go undefeated this year. Sure they are a great team, but not great enough to deserve that. Oh well, go Ravens.

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