The premise was similar to each of their previous road-playoff wins.
1. Get outplayed in the first half by the home team.
2. Force a TO on defense and have enough sputtering offense to keep it close.
3. Make half-time adjustments and take control in the 3rd quarter
4. Use feral defense late in the game to force mistakes that seal the game
Well – someone neglected to figure out that if you managed to do 1 & 3, but not 2, then things might be a lot tougher for you.
The Eagles dug themselves a mighty 18-point hole yesterday in the first half of the NFC Championship game in which they allowed Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald to perform a pretty reasonable Montana-to-Rice imitation for 30 minutes. And yet, with almost surprising ease, they rattled off 19 straight points (3 TDs with 1 PAT – woo special teams!) to take a 25-24 lead in the fourth quarter.
And this was where #4 was supposed to come into place. It wasn’t pretty, but they’d regained the lead. Now the defense (which had made the Cardinals look more like the Cardinals in the second half) just had to shut them down one more time. Sadly for the Green, it was not a befuddled Tavaris Jackson or a windswept Eli Manning under center. And even with all the pressure and knock-downs, Warner and the Cardinals methodically marched down the field for a TD. Hats off to them.
After they converted their 2-pt conversion to go up 7, I didn’t need the subsequent 4-and-10 probably-was-pass-interference-but-wasn’t-so-obvious-and-so-wasn’t-going-to-be-called-this-late-in-a-playoff-game-with-Kevin-Curtis-on-his-knees-with-arms-outstretched-as-if-only-he-could-reach-out-for-but-not-quite-touch-greatness incompletion to know that the game (and season) was finished.
And so with their fourth loss in five NFC Championship Games (they were favorites in 4-of-5), we’re left with the Reid-Era question of: is it better to be competitive year in and year out, but never win the Big One, or would you rather ride a rollercoaster where one championship is followed by many years of sub-par performance?
I know that Reid-and-McNabb and company give the team a very good chance of having a winning season and some modicum of playoff success. I also know that for the last 10 years, whenever this team has gone head-to-head with Expectation, they’ve buckled.
I also know that one very good definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome.