The Eagle Has Crashed
Maybe it's only fair; I remember them winning a lot of games like this. But they had good quarterbacking then, led mostly by the currently hobbled improvisational genius who was goofing around on the sidelines today or the currently concussed little drill sargeant now working for Tampa. On the field today, the Birds had A.J. Feeley, who looked more like the goofball whose lousy decision-making ended the team's upset bid at New England last week rather than the decisive and opportunistic passer who had led them in position to shock the Pats in the first place. His ineptitude was the biggest factor in a 28-24 loss that effectively closed the book on the team's playoff chances.
Given chance after chance in the second half, with good protection and field position, Feeley played like a lobotomized Jeff George. He threw into coverage, spurned sure-thing short gains for low-percentage glory passes, held onto it when he should have thrown it away, and failed to find anything that worked. It might have been the worst half of quarterbacking I've ever seen; I'm sure other QBs have put up worse numbers, but few in as tight a game or with some things actually working well.
It's a shame, because the Eagles' energy and aggressiveness were as present against Seattle as they had been in New England. The defense, particularly the front seven, came up huge again and again in the fourth quarter. And they got what felt like a possible season-turning, gift-from-the-gods big play when Brian Westbrook, sent back in for punt returning duties, tore off a 64-yard return to put the Eagles 13 yards from victory with 1:20 left. Plenty of time, whole field available, but Feeley misjudged himself to 3rd and 7, then fired the ball right into the chest of Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu--who picked off three today. (I think Tatupu had as big a game two years ago, when Seattle came to Lincoln Field and demolished the Eagles 41-0 on Monday Night Football. Trade for this man!)
With Donovan McNabb, all else being equal, the Eagles probably would have won this game by ten points and at 6-6 would have a solid shot at the playoffs. Instead, their bid is over, Feeley has bumbled himself out of contention for a starter job here again, and the only question is whether the last quarter of a lost season is better used by finding out if a healthy McNabb can still be effective, or throwing rookie Kevin Kolb into the line of fire in hopes of seasoning him for next year and beyond.