Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eagles - Cowboys Diary: Lights, Camera, DJ

Fairly simple stakes tonight; win, and you keep the driver's spot in the division, and get much closer to a playoff spot. Lose, and you've dropped four straight to your most hated rivals, and pretty much ensured that the last month of the season is going to be a white-knuckle ride. And had they played this game a month ago, when the Cowboys had completely quit on Wade Philips, I'd be thinking that my laundry was going to win by 20+ points. But now? CB Asante Samuel and LT Winston Justice, two incredibly important starters, are both on the bench with injuries. They win now by outscoring teams, not by actually beating them. And when you've got a team like that, you are only a few mistakes, or a patient and powerful offensive game plan, away from looking like a paper tiger. It's just a team that goes against an old-time Eagle fan's DNA, really; we're never had a team like this, and have no idea how to react.

After the usual distasteful Faith Hill poon tease, we get a Don Meredith moment, and the Cowboys kicking off. Rookie KR Jorrick Calvin has had some good moments this year, and gets it to the 27 on an average hole; notable for Dallas K David Buchler not getting it deep, really. QB Michael Vick rolls and finds WR DeSean Jackson for a monster hit to the deep left, and ye gads, that was pretty and easy. 60 yards on the first play. First and 10 from the Dallas 13 has Vick missing DJ, and second sees RB LeSean McCoy get snowed under on the shotgun handoff. Third and 13 from the 16 sees Vick from the gun alone, and he goes left and finds reserve RB/WR Chad Hall, who is just short of the first down. On fourth and short, Andy Reid goes for it, and McCoy blasts it in tight as C Mike McGlyn and RG Max Jean-Gillies does the work. From the gun on first and goal, it's Vick for the QB draw, and the QB slams it over the goal posts as the Jerruhsoleum goes real, real quiet. Six plays, 73 yards, 3:13 and it's Eagles 7, Cowboys 0.

A sloppy kickoff return gets the Cowboys operating at their own 23. QB Jon Kitna gets a 4-yarder to TE Martellus Bennett, who goes down immediately on tight coverage. RB Felix Jones goes around the left side for an easy gallop, and the laundry is against DE Trent Cole to boot. Dallas at their own 40. A telegraphed screen to Jones gets four as LB Darryl Tapp can't fight through the trash fast enough to shut it down sooner. Jones again fora yard, and on third and six, Kitna from the gun looks confused, and WR Roy Williams can't bring in what would have been a big gain. CB Dmitri Patterson ruins things with a face mask, and that's a gift 15 yards and a first down. Gahhh. Razzle dazzle reverse to WR Miles Austin goes for 26, and we now get to see this historically bad red zone defense. RB Tashard Choice for an easy 9 up the middle, and then he gets a first down as LB Moises Fokou makes the meh stop. From the three on first, Choice slips just before the goal line, and the defense just looks DOA right now. Kitna has to call time, and I suppose that's a win. After the commerce (really, America is all about a capella groups now?), Choice loses ground on nice work by DT Antonio Dixon. On third from the two, Kitna from the gun hits TE Jason Witten for the easy hook, and we're tied. Sigh. LB Ernie Sims with the matador act there. Tie game with 5:33 left in the first, and as always with Eagles 2010, I Hope You Took The Over.

Colvin to the 18, then Vick's ball to TE Brent Celek is tipped for an incomplete. From the gun, the Eagles dance and flip it around to DJ, who only gets a couple. Third and eight is a big deal with this bad of a defense, and from the gun, Vick has to improvise for a scant yard. Ugly series for the offensive line, and it's Worry Time for Green. P Sav Rocca gets off a high 40 yards of net, and the Cowboys will start at their own 39.

Kitna swings it to Jones, who shakes a man to earn nothing, as NBC shows that Tony Romo is basically the same as Kitna. Heh, heh. Romo finds Austin for 17 as there is some question on ball security, but the Cowboys snap it before the replays can show more. Jones on an inside handoff for a couple. Patterson and Bradley take down Jones for a loss to the left, and it's third and nine. From the gun, Kitna hits WR Kasim Ogletree, but rookie CB Trevor Lindley makes the stick before the marker. Punter Mat McBriar gets it to the nine, where DJ catches it for the fair catch. All things considered, as good of a series as I can hope for from this defense.

With 45 seconds left in the quarter, Vick makes me scared in his own end zone, then connects with WR Jeremy Maclin for a first down, and that's the first quarter.

After we change sides, Vick takes a crushing hit that causes an incomplete; FB Owen Schmitt got pancaked by DE DeMarcus Ware. McCoy for four as Reid tries to keep things sane. Third and six is another run, bit of a curious call, and McCoy is stopped by NT Jay Ratliff to end the possession. I wonder if Reid was worried about Vick's condition there. Rocca nearly hits the Jerruhscreen on a 53 yard that is, once again, all net. Helpful.

Jones on an awkward draw for no gain. From the gun on second, Jones on a screen for five; not exactly imaginative, as NBC shows how Cole had his head ripped off for no flag. How the zebras miss that, with Cole on the edge and visible from space, I have no idea. From the gun on third, Cole hammers the QB, and the ball is tipped to stop the drive. Bradley lands on an elbow and stays down, and we've got more commerce. McBriar's punt to DJ goes deep, and he takes it back with some post-whistle silliness for no flag. Bradley looks like he's done for the night, and boy, is that not helpful.

McCoy for a few as this game has quieted down noticeably. On second, the QB gets six yards to the left, then gets hit as he's going out of bounds for a play that's a penalty for any QB in the league that isn't Vick. Reid is irate, and I can't blame him; given how the game is officiated now; so much for the effectiveness of complaining about such things. Third and two has Vick missing Maclin on a cross, and that's another three and out Rocca's punt is immense, and PR Bryan McCann decides to field it anyway. He's leveled, and the ball comes out for a tantalizingly long time time before it finally goes out of bounds; dammit. The Cowboys will start from their own 7.

Kitna to Austin for a quick six yards, as Bradley's out. Jones is stuffed on second as seventh-round rookie Jamar Cheney gets the spotlight for Bradley. Third and four from the gun for Kitna is incomplete to Bennett, as S Quentin Mikell has the coverage on the short out. McBriar punts from his end zone, and DJ gets it back to midfield with 8:49 left in the half.

From the gun on first, a screen to McCoy gets nothing, as CB Terence Newman makes the clean takedown; one miss there would have been big. On second from the gun, there's pre-snap movement, and that's your first Dallas flag of the day, but far from your first illegal move. Bradley is announced with a dislocated elbow; yeesh. I like Stew and all, but he can't stay healthy. The second and five is a shotgun draw to McCoy to move the sticks. Vick to DJ on a pretty cross for 37, and all credit to Maclin for some great downfield blocking on the play. Easy, easy, easy. Vick nearly puts it in a Salvation Army bucket throwing it away on first, as Ware was in the QB's grill on a slow developing rollout. Second and goal from the two is a weird toss to Hall, who gets it to the one and makes me itch. Third and goal has Vick roll left and hit RG Todd Herremans for the eligible fun, and that's career highlight, I'm sure. Akers connects, and it's Green 14, White 7 with 5:49 left. Mighty quiet 90K people in Dallas tonight.

Akers to the end zone, but Ogletree has a hole and takes it to the 27. Kitna's screen is covered, so he rolls for eight ungainly yards; Fokou is flagged to add five and a first to the run. Lame call. Austin false starts on first. Kitna finds WR Roy Williams, who runs through shaggy coverage for 20 yards and the first. Kitna from the gun gives to Jones, who swims through contact for five yards. Choice takes punishment on second for a yard. Third and four outside of figgie range is a big deal, and Kitna's ball to Austin is tipped and picked by Mikell; nice work by Fokou, but that's a gift from Austin. Green ball at their own 23, and NBC runs a nasty graphic about Austin's on-target drops in 2010. Break my heart, it does.

Vick to WR Jason Avant for a swing pass yard. Vick is crushed on a second down play, and that's (finally) a flag; there's a make good flag there, but the replay shows it was helmet to helmet. The two miunute warning is called, and it'll be Green ball, first and 10 from their own 39, with all three timeouts. I'm kind of stunned about the timeout situation.

Vick to Maclin deep, and the WR complains to no avail for a call as the ball is incomplete. Vick misses Celek deep, and S Gerald Sensabaugh has the pick; just a poor choice, seeing how Celek was covered and is, well, Brent Celek. White ball at their own 32.

Draw to Jones for 11 and a first. Kitna avoids CB Joselio Hanson on an untouched blitz, but Tapp cleans up the rest for a 3-yard sack. Kitna to Witten for a few, and it's third and nine with 33 seconds left, from their own 44. Kind of a big play here, if only for the figgie, and from the gun, Kitna finds Ogletree, who spins from contact and makes the first down. Dammit. Dallas uses a timeout with 25 seconds left, and a first down at the Green 46. If you get the guy to the ground, the half ends 14-7.

From the gun on first, it's a false start on Ogletree. Kitna misses Ogletree on a rollout, and there are 20 seconds left in the half. From the gun on second and 15, the Eagles rush three, and Kitna finds Ogletree for the first down and a timeout. Just bad defense, really. The booth reviews the catch with nine seconds left in the half; big moment, really, but I can't see it going Green's way, and it doesn't. The clock is set back to 13 seconds, and Cowboys' coach Jason Garrett tries the figgie anyway from 50 yards; curious. Reid calls a timeout to give Garrett more time to think it over. Odd all over here, but White stays with their special teams, and long figgies always work against my laundry, and this one is no different. Eagles 14, Cowboys 10.

Colvin takes the kick back to the 26, and with two seconds left, Reid has Vick take a knee. Back after the half.

I miss the first 7+ minutes of the second half, which means I miss Vick's second pick (a deflection off Maclin, who has been pretty invisible tonight) and Dallas taking a 20-14 lead on a field goal and touchdown. Joy. My first play back sees Shady McCoy go for 55 whooshing yards, as the line does the job in a big way. He gets it again for four and enters the red zone. Short to Celek for three, and third and four sees the QB get crushed on a corner blitz from CB Orlando Scandrick. So much for that drive. Akers connects from 39, and it's Cowboys 20, Eagles 17.

Ogletree takes it out of his own end zone, and is stopped inside of the Cowboys 10; helpful. Choice for a yard to the right, as White isn't going to stop being patient with the run. Kitna finds Witten, who is stopped by Fokou two yards before the first down. 19 minutes and counting left in this one, and a big third down given the field position and pace of game. The Cowboys throw for it, and Kitna misses Austin by a mile; quite helpful. Rookie CB Trevor Lindley with the press coverage. McBriar hits a bad kick, but DJ adds a bad return, and Green starts at their own 40.

On first, Vick drops back and hops right into a Ratliff sack; oy. This is starting to look like the guy who played for the Falcons, and the line that got Donovan McNabb ran out of town. Second and 16 is a toss to WR Riley Cooper, who curls up for an 11 yard gain. DJ on the sidelines; not good. Third and five is a big damn deal at their own 45, and Vick is under center for a quick slant to Avant, who makes a great play on a low and outside ball for the first. Phew. 13 yards and a first. McCoy for six as Jean-Gillies loses his helmet; curious as to how that happens without a flag, really. From the gun on second, it's McCoy for a patient two, and another huge third down play. Vick rolls to Avant, who juggles but brings it in for another first down. The third quarter ends with DJ looking like he'll come back in, Green in field goal range, and down by three. Tight, tight game. Cowboys 20, Eagles 17 at the end of three.

DJ's back to start the fourth. From the gun, Vick tries DJ in the end zone; the ball is outside, and that could have been a flag, but wasn't. From the gun on second, it's a screen to McCoy on a blitz, but the RB can't make one man miss, and it's a loss of two. Ouch. Third and 12 is another monstrously big play, and Vick from the gun has time but not accuracy, missing Avant. Troubling. Akers tries from 50, and connects. Phew. Tie game with just under 14 minutes left.

Ogletree doesn't duplicate his previous mistake, and that's a touchback. Jones loses two on first. Kitna finds Witten for four yards, and Mikell wrestles him down with alacrity. Third and eight has Kitna from the gun to Bennett, but it's short of the sticks by two yards, as three men rush effectively and the zone does the work. Nice three and out. McBriar's punt is long, and DJ can't do too much with it, with a block in the back by Cooper to make matters worse. Green will start at their own nine with just under 12 minutes left.

Vick to DJ, who spins away from coverage and goes 91 yards, the last yard of which draws a 15-yard flag for a Nestea plunge against no resistance. Good God Almighty, that was unspeakable. Akers hits the PAT, and just like that, Green is up 27-20. If there is a more dangerous WR than DJ, I haven't seen him. Kind of a lame excessive celebration call, really; DJ did most of that in the line of play, but it's pretty damned indefensible.

Ogletree can't get the ball back too far back on the runback, so DJ's taunt is mostly forgiven. From the 23, Kitna is picked by Patterson, and has this game ever changed. Exceptional play by Patterson, who dances with the sideline like, well, DJ. Green ball at White's 34, and the big plus/minus turnover edge for the Eagles is showing up.

McCoy shuffles through for 13, and Green is looking for the kill shot. From the 20, McCoy gains three. DJ on an end-around gets four as the crowd chants for his blood; the wideout isn't quite right at the moment. Third and three forces a timeout as the WR limps off; Not Helpful, DJ... but we'll forgive you. DJ returns after the timeout, and on third and three from the gun, Vick keeps on a keeper that doesn't quite get there, Ware with the saving tackle. As much as you might want a kill shot touchdown, the figgie is the only smart play, and Akers connects from 28 to make it Eagles 30, Cowboys 20 with 8:17 left.

Akers continues his masterful night with another touchback. Kitna to Witten for 14 and a first, and that's worrisome. From the gun on first, the Eagles send pressure, and Kitna goes flying at the end of a nine yard scramble. Kitna finds WR Sam Hurd to move the sticks, and the White offense is looking crisp. From the gun, Kitna goes to Williams, who is dropped by Patterson after three yards as the clock runs. On second from the gun, Kitna's pass is knocked down by soaring S Nate Allen, who could have picked it. DE Brandon Graham is on the ground before the third and 8; Not Helpful. The rookie first rounder hobbles off, and that's not looking in any way useful for later; third defensive starter (Samuel, Bradley) down. Third and 8 is a big damn deal, and Kitna from the gun tries Austin on a fly route to no avail. Nice work by Mikell to confuse the QB. On fourth and eight, the Cowboys go for it, and from the gun, Kitna avoids pressure and prolongs the game with a ten yard scramble that's just infuriating. Dammit, dammit, dammit.

Kitna to Choice for a big gain, and this game is very much alive, as the RB gets 17. From the gun, it's Kitna to Witten, who shakes off a bad tackle from Allen for the score. We were a play away from the game being over; instead, Dallas draws to 30-27 with 4:22 left, and that's just awful.

Colvin dances for a while in his own end zone, presumably to take time off the clock, then compounds it with an unsportsmanlike flag. Good grief, the rookies on this team need to check themselves. The clock didn't even run. From his ten from the gun, Vick finds McCoy, who falls in bounds for six yards and the clock running. Shady then goes up the middle and moves the chains for 12 yards; big play. Shady does it again through another monster hole, and that's 19 yards and a first. Dallas take their first timeout with 2:45 left, but the RB just does it again, barreling up the middle for 13 more, another life-giving first, and another Dallas timeout. Hell of a drive by the offensive line here, and there's just 2:38 left. From the White 40, RB Jerome Harrison doesn't have the same hole, and gets little. Dallas calls their final timeout with 2:33 left.

On second and ten, Vick rolls right and dives at the marker, coming up just short while staying in bounds. That's the two-minute warning, and it will be third and one at the Cowboys 31. Great play call by the Eagles, and great execution by Vick. The give to McCoy works for four yards, and I can't tell you, as an Eagles fan who watched Emmit Smith do this to my team for years and years and years, how enjoyable the last four minutes has been. Vick goes to the victory formation, and that is that. Eagles 30, Cowboys 27, and the 2009 team that got its head handed to them on the line against this team? That's over now.

See you next week against the hopefully short-rested Giants. My laundry is now 9-4, with their fate in their hands. Not bad for a rebuilding year.

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