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”.