What a difference a week makes. Last week, the Eagles played pathetically against the Redskins, and seemingly blew any shot at making the playoffs. To get in, they would not only need to beat the Cowboys, but they would also need the Tampa Bay Bucs to lose to the horrible Oakland Raiders at home, and have either Chicago or Minnesota lose. It looked like this could well be the last game as an Eagle for QB Donovan McNabb, and possibly (hopefully?) for coach Andy Reid.
But sometimes, things work out. In the Chicago vs. Houston game, the Houston Texans came out strong from the start and beat the Bears. So the first part was taken care of. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay was leading their game. But then, thanks to a huge second half, the Raiders took the lead, and I watched as Tampa Bay’s last minute attempt at a comeback failed. Somehow, the Eagles now once again controlled their own destiny and the game against the Cowboys would be for the sixth and final playoff spot.
The two teams had matched up in the second week of the season, and in that one, the Cowboys prevailed. However, that team had not lived up to lofty preseason expectations (many people picked them to win the Super Bowl before the season), so they were definitely beatable. In my preseason prediction, I said that when a team has a lot of head cases on board as the Cowboys do, they don’t always deal well with adversity. It’s nice to see that at least one of my predictions did indeed come true.
The team’s owner, Jerry Jones, thinks that the NFL is the same as fantasy football, and he can just go out and get name players and watch the magic unfold. It doesn’t always work that way, not when you have a couple of criminals (Tank Johnson and Pacman Jones), a QB who is fast proving to be the least clutch player in the league (Tony Romo), and of course Terrell Owens, the biggest cancer in sports.
Anyway, both teams started slowly, trading field goals. Then, the Eagles took over. RB Correll Buckhalter – very underused for most of the season – had a long catch and run. And then Andy Reid called for not one, but two QB sneaks on short yardage, and the Eagles scored a touchdown. Later in the second quarter, McNabb led the team down the field for another TD and a 17-3 lead.
At that point, the Eagles defense – combined with some classic self-destruction by the Cowboys – took over. High priced Cowboys WR Roy Williams ran the wrong route, leading to an Eagles interception, which was followed by another TD pass by McNabb. As the half neared its end, Pacman Jones (He should be in jail instead of making millions in the NFL) fumbled a kickoff return, and the Eagles were able to add a 50 yard field goal as the half ended.
The Cowboys had the ball to start the third quarter, but Eagles safety Brian Dawkins – another longtime Eagles playing perhaps his last game – forced a fumble which the Eagles ran back for a touchdown. On the next Cowboys drive, Dawkins forced yet another fumble returned for a TD. If this was Dawkins’ last game as an Eagle, it was definitely one of his best.
The Cowboys managed to fumble yet again on their next drive, meaning they had turned the ball over on five straight possessions. Its very difficult to win in the NFL when you do that. After that, the Eagles pretty much ran out the clock as the Cowboys gave up. That would have to rank as one of the top regular season games ever for the Eagles. After games like last week, I sometimes wonder why I enjoy watching sports. And then comes a day like yesterday, and I remember exactly why.
As impossible as it seemed after last week, the Eagles were in the playoffs. And while they’ll be a long shot for the Super Bowl, if you’re in the playoffs, you’ve at least got a chance. Keep in mind that not many people gave the Giants too much of a chance last year at this time. They play at Minnesota next week. It’ll be tough – there’s no such thing as an easy playoff game – but its definitely winnable.
With the sports year essentially done, I’d have to rank 2008 as the greatest year ever for the teams that I follow. The Sixers had a surprising run to the NBA playoffs. The Flyers made the Eastern Conference finals. Temple basketball won the Atlantic 10 and returned to the NCAA tournament. The Eagles made it back to the playoffs. And of course, the Phillies won the World Series. Can 2009 possibly top that? I’m not counting on it.
Now for some Christmas related stuff….
Mrs. Cutter and I had a good holiday in Long Island, although it probably wasn’t great for our health. We didn’t sleep particularly well. Apparently, we’ve gotten too used to our king sized bed and contoured pillows, so its hard to adjust to smaller beds and regular pillows. Yes, I know you all feel so sorry for us. We also ate way too much. After stuffing myself with Mrs. Cutter’s father’s family on Christmas Eve, I managed to eat even more on Christmas Day with her mother’s family.
The drive back from Long Island on Saturday sucked. Surprisingly, the problems came on 95, near the Tydings (not the Delaware Memorial) Bridge. Between the heavy holiday traffic and foggy conditions, we were slowed to a crawl. We had to get off 95 and took route 40 for awhile instead. We had lunch at McDonalds, which was a mistake, because a few minutes later, we saw both a Wawa and a Sheetz. Oh well.
Mrs. Cutter got me some good stuff, and on New Years Day, we’re going to go to Target so I can get a long desired bike. Our neighborhood will be great to ride a bike around, and if I’m feeling especially ambitious, I can even ride to work. Id’ probably have to spend most of the day sweaty if I did that though.
Although the year is almost over, there’s still time for one more important blog. Either tomorrow or Wednesday, I’ll present the 2008 Cutter Awards, featuring awards like Movie of the year, Moment of the year, and the prestigious Person of the Year award. Will you be the lucky recpient of a Cuttie? Tune in to find out.