Eagles Ride Winds to NFC Championship Game

Last week, during their road-win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles struggled offensively in the first half (especially against a good run defense), but rode an Assante Samuel INT-derived TD and a strong defensive effort to a slim lead at halftime.  In the second half, Donovan McNabb and the Eagles offense got into gear a little bit – throwing the ball more effectively to move the ball downfield.  The defense kept up the pressure and Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson played a sub-par game – missing opportunities to help his team get back in the game.

Forward a week and make the following substitutions:

Giants for Vikings
Meadowlands for Metrodome
Eli Manning for Tavaris Jackson.

The arc of the game’s story was remarkably similar as the Eagles muscled their way to a 23-11 win in a Divisional Round NFL Playoff win against their NFC East rival, NY Giants.  If it’s possible to say so, the Giants really lost their chance to control the game in the first half.  The Giants D had effectively bottled up the Eagles (their only score off a 2-yd “drive” after Samuels' INT), while the G-men O had squandered several big-play opportunities and were unable to find the endzone – in large part due to Eli Manning’s inability to make precise throws in the swirling cold winds of the Meadowlands.  I think that guy should play for a dome team.  Really.

In the second half, the Eagles found a way to move the ball somewhat effectively without the use of Brian Westbrook, who the Giants kept from being a significant factor all day.  In refreshing fashion, the Eagles converted several key 3rd-downs, with McNabb throwing darts to less-used-weapons, while their defense stymied the Giants on back-to-back drives with key 4th down stands.

And so, the Giants have to be left wondering what might have been if Plaxico hadn’t stuffed a loaded gun in his sweatpants, or if Eli had a stronger arm.  The Eagles meanwhile head off to Arizona to face the even-more-improbably-in-the-NFC-Championship-Game Cardinals for the chance to go to the Super Bowl.

This year? Go figure.

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11 thoughts on “Eagles Ride Winds to NFC Championship Game

  1. My roommate is a big Giants fan, so I was rooting for your Eagles too :) As a 49ers fan for life I like gloating when his team loses since he gets to laugh at me every week!

  2. Must be honest … not a big McNabb fan, but anyone who keeps Eli crying in his bankbook is ok with me, especially when it means no repeat for the G-Men. I do, however, love Asante Samuel, and kind of wish he had remained here in NE, and was so glad to see gool ol' #22 stick it to another Manning. Just for fun, ya know? Cards are on a roll, though, and playing at home … Philly's going to have their hands full trying to hold down Larry Fitzgerald …

  3. An ESPN commentator put it best yesterday when he said: "The fact that this is the most improbable playoff series I've ever seen can be summed up in one sentence: `The Arizona Cardinals are HOSTING the NFC Championship game." The Eagles and the Giants clearly both came in with the same game plan, to stuff the other team's running game and force the opposing QB to beat them. Well, it looks like NY picked a bad week to count on Donovan's erratic passing. It must have looked like things were still reasonably on track just before the end of the first half. But then, hello–! the Eagles demonstrated something I've not seen in 5 years: an effective hurry up offense. Once McNabb had come down the field for the go-ahead FG to close the half, he seemd to find his rhthym. The 3rd and 20 play for 21 yards hearkened back to the old McNabb, when he made plays with his feet as much as his arm. I hope that version sticks around for another 2 games. It seems like the Eagles should beat AZ, so I'm predicting an Eagles-Ravens Bowl. Cross your fingers…

  4. BBL — it will be really interesting to see how the Cards adapt to playing in the NFC Championship game. They've played with zero expectations and performed really well — also they'll be underdogs, so they can still use the "no respect" motivator. I'm pretty sure they haven't strung 3 good games together in decades, but who knows.

  5. Mud — I think the drive at the drive at the end of the 1st half was key too — and despite the tip-ball INT, he stayed in that rhythm. I don't know that I see the Cardinals stringing 3 good games together. Steelers-Ravens game should be brutal — too bad the winner will have 2 weeks to heal.

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