Tuesday, September 21, 2004

"What a Difference a Year Makes"

A year ago, the Eagles were headed into their bye week with an 0-2 record, and lots of questions swirling around their star quarterback Donovan McNabb. Today, they are 2-0 (for the first time since 1993), after defeating the Minnesota Vikings in a Monday Night Football showdown. Bob Brookover provides us with a game recap. Bill Lyon believes the win confirms the Eagles status as the team to beat in the NFC, and says "there is still no reason to think they can't make another run at the you-know-what Bowl." Stephen A. Smith says, going into this season, there were lots of questions surrounding the team, such as how would they deal with the loss of free agents Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor. Stephen A. says, so far, "there's little for anyone to complain about," as the Eagles are getting it done with their defense. Phil Sheridan says last night's game was "classic No. 5." Shannon Ryan writes about the embarrassing gaffe displayed by the head official, Bill Carollo, who couldn't seem to get out the explanation of why Donovan McNabb was an ineligible receiver on a crafty play. Dick Jerardi says "he got midway through before sounding very much like an elementary school pupil who forgot his lines at the school play." Exactly. Bob Ford writes that the game might have been billed as an offensive showdown between Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, but "for the second straight week, and this time against a much better opponent, the Eagles did more than the other guys, which is how they keep score in the NFL." Ashley McGeachy looks at the play of Brian Westbrook, who quietly got the job done, between the running and short-passing game. Speaking of which, was that the fastest first-half of a Monday Night game in quite awhile? With the running game (and short-passing game that Andy Reid often employs in place of a running game), it seems like the clock never stopped in the first two quarters. Marc Narducci looks at the surprising 2-0 Detroit Lions, who are up next on the Eagles schedule. In his weekly NFL column, Gregg Easterbrook mentions that this game will feature the "one pairing of undefeated teams," while openly wondering if there will be any undefeated matchups left come October.

Ira Josephs looks at ABC's coverage of the game, including the you-could-have-saved-us-the-hooting-and-hollering miking of Randy Moss and his "colorful, but clean, language." Les Bowen has a playful look at Donovah McNabb claiming T.O. should have gotten "a technical for hanging on the rim a little bit" during his touchdown celebration. Les also looks at some of the stranger officiating miscues of the night (including plays that could have been challenged but weren't, and plays that couldn't be challenged because of the initial call on the field). It didn't affect the outcome of the game, but let's just say that this crew didn't bring their A game last night. Rich Hofmann has a look at the confidence that McNabb's teammates have in him. Bill Conlin writes that, it might have taken awhile, but T.O. earned the "equivalent of a TKO" in his matchup against Moss, so to speak. John Smallwood talks about the "bend but don't break" mentality of the Jim Johnson defense, which ranks first in the NFL for fewest points allowed and red-zone defense over the past 4 seasons. Dana Pennett O'Neil has some quotes from an apparently sour Daunte Culpepper, who was upset that his fumble at the "one inch line" was ruled as such, since he felt the "ball might have broke the plane" (it didn't) and that he knows his "body was in" (doesn't matter), "but they didn't even review it" (even if they hadn't, they wouldn't have reversed the call). Maybe instead of hoping that officials will bail him out, he should concentrate on holding onto the ball. ABC displayed a pretty telling graphic during the game, noting how this has been a problem for Daunte. Speaking of which, Bill Fleischman talks about the the ABC coverage of the game, including a production error which briefly had the score of the game at 17-12 (instead of 17-9), as they incorrectly assumed a Minnesota field goal attempt was good (it was short). Bob Grotz opens his article telling Randy Moss he was right: "it wasn't even close," there is no comparison between him and T.O. Jack McCaffery writes that the Eagles "won a potentially dangerous game with relative ease." I'm not sure what Rob Parent's problem is, but he incredulously asks us today, "aren't the best teams in this league supposed to win with defense?" Someone needs to tell Rob the NFL tracks wins and losses by who scores more points than their opponents, not who wins the total yardage game. Meanwhile, Mark Eckel says that Donovan McNabb made plays when he needed to, and so did the Eagles defense. Jon Marks talked eith Rod Hood after the game, who had this to say about covering Randy Moss: "He didn't talk too much. He got mad at the refs and was talking more to the refs than to us." I have to say, I got quite tired of staring at the constant scowl on Randy throughout the ABC broadcast. Nick Fierro summed up the game this way:
On the national stage of Monday Night football, with every mistake magnified tenfold by John Madden's marker, the Eagles needed to be on their best behavior. Once again, as has become the norm under coach Andy Reid in prime time games, the Eagles proved up to the task.
Todd Zolecki has Kevin Milwood calling Gavin Floyd's curveball "stupid good," and talks about the possibility of Ryan Howard trying out in the outfield this fall. Dennis Deitch says the Phillies hope to return the favor from last year and knock the Marlins out of playoff contention (only difference was, the Marlins were treated with a wild card berth, and an eventual World Series championship for their troubles last year, the Phillies will have no such "consolation prize.")

Both Marc Narducci and Phil Jasner report the Sixers signed shooting forward Josh Davis. Finally, Daily News writer Ronnie Polaneczky says she was able to give away all 50 of her remaining "salary caps" due to high reader demand (see yesterday's link).

CSN has Phillies-Marlins at 7:05.

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