Thanks to my new, wonk-tastic work schedule, I’m free in the mornings now, not as free in the evenings. Which means that, at last, I get to use NFL Game Rewind less than 84 hours after the game ends. Woo!

On to the enormous G-men win.

FIRST QUARTER

DAWK.
I’m not sure Bobby April even coaches anymore. The kick coverage was atrocious yesterday, and it started with David Wilson’s game-opening 36-yard return. Wilson had six returns for 217 yards last night. Brandon Boykin has 210 kickoff return yards all year.

Aside from one completion to Victor Cruz while falling down, a forgettable first drive for Mrs. Chicken Fried Steak and Co. 1-for-5 passing. Punt.
Shady gets dropped in the backfield, Vick throws it a million miles an hour to Stanley Havili from about five feet away, Vick dumps it to Celek under pressure. Not Sav Rocca makes his regular season debut. He hammers one, but outkicks his coverage a little bit. Rueben Randle gets an 18-yard return.

Well-known stupid person Martellus Bennett runs roughshod over the secondary on a 3rd-down catch, but it’s negated because Will Beatty is a huge cheater.
<3 u Ron Winter. Missed ya, buddy.

Mrs. Steak dumps it off to Bradshaw on the next play. Punt. Damaris Johnson has no discernable punt return instincts. He fields it inside the 10 with Giants buzzing all around him, dances for 5 seconds, and gains about a millimeter. This cannot keep happening.

Vick barely avoids a safety. Bryce Brown goes nowhere. Then out of nowhere, Vick plays pitch and catch with DeSean, if you played pitch and catch with someone from 40 yards away. Just looked so easy.

Shady’s first good run is negated by a Todd Herremans hold. Herremans had a rough go of it up against Jason “The Anti-Brandon Graham” Pierre-Paul all night. Kenny Phillips leaves the game with some injury.

Eagles nearly convert the long series of downs, aided by a Kiwanuka encroachment penalty, but Celek can’t hang onto the 3rd down catch over the middle, Herremans was flagged for doing somersaults with the ABG anyway, so it wouldn’t have matter.

McBriar boots another nice one, tries his damndest to feign a running into the kicker penalty, fails. Brandon Hughes makes a nice tackle on coverage, backing up Mrs. Steak and the offense.

DRC gives the Giants a 1st down on 3rd down with illegal contact for bumping and running with Randle too much, I guess.

Eagles give up another first down before stiffening up (giggity). Cullen Jenkins makes a nice play in the backfield on Bradshaw and Nate Allen nearly comes up with a deep interception in the process. Damaris finally lets a punt inside the 10 bounce into the end zone, but only because it literally landed on the one yard line.

Reid challenges an incompletion ruling and wins. WHAT NOW, SCAB REFS.
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See...'cause he's fat, and probably eats a lot, and...
Say what you will about Vick’s decision making, but he is absolutely dead to rights on this play and turns it into a three-yard gain rolling to his left. As every analyst ever would say here, “You just can’t coach that. YOU CAN’T.” 
A few plays later, he rifles it between two Giants for a completion to Celek. Man.

Bryce Brown ends the quarter doing what he normally does: gaining no yards.
SECOND QUARTER

Vick gets off a desperation heave on 3rd down that lands just out of DeSean’s reach. Can’t tell if it was as close as it was because Vick put it there or sheer chance. Punt.

Domenik Hixon had a damn good game for the ugliest man ever from Germany. He would’ve had a great catch deep after getting between Asomugha and Coleman, if not for Eli overthrowing him. Oh, and a holding penalty.

Eli continues to look bad, but gets bailed out on 3rd down with an illegal use of hands call on…somebody. Three plays later, Brandon Hughes slaps a pass away from Hixon about 20 yards downfield. He’s in because Nnamdi got poked in the eye and is TOTALLY at the hospital right now.

Damaris lets another one go inside the 20…and it goes into the end zone again. “Wow! This is way better than calling for a fair catch or getting my ass handed to me at the 8-yard line!"

Still no room for McCoy anywhere. Vick gets nine of the 12 yards he needs on a designed draw. Puuuuuuuunt. What a great game. PUNTERS ARE PEOPLE TOO. Show me some PUNTING X-O.
PUNTING X-O.

Another three and out follows. HE’S NOT A PUNTER, HE’S A WEAPON.

Collinsworth starts talking about Tom Brady being driven crazy by paddles. Umenyiora jumps offsides, beginning Collinsworth’s night-long chastisement of the only Giants defensive end never to be on a Subway commercial.

Vick throws to no one in particular before hitting Damaris and McCoy for two straight first downs and scrambling for a third on the next 3rd down. On the next play, McCoy bounces a run outside for two yards and Collinsworth rips Umenyiora a new one for not setting the edge. Yep.

Two plays later, the line picks up a blitz, Vick steps up and finds Jackson in the back corner of the endzone without a single Giant within 10 feet of him. First TD of the year for DJax.
Welcome to 2012. 7-0.

David Wilson’s next hundred-mile return is negated by holding. Phew.

I don’t picture Eli Manning as the kind of guy who does many things furiously (clean out his ears? Build balsa wood airplanes? Weed his petunia garden?), but he leads a relatively furious (let’s call it “mildly enthused”) end-of-half drive, aided by a ridiculous catch by Hixon that gets back almost all the yards they gave up on the kick return with the hold.
No defending that.

Eagles hold the Blues to a field goal, though. Might’ve forced them away with a goose egg if Brandon Hughes could’ve held onto this pick in the end zone on the last play before the field goal.
Of course, maybe he could’ve held onto the pick if Hixon wasn’t hugging him like a teddy bear.
7-3 going into halftime.

THIRD QUARTER

I can’t remember the last time a Brandon Boykin kick return gave us field position beyond the 25-yard line.

McCoy gets going with a couple big runs, at long last, the second one bringing the Eagles to the one-yard line. First and goal. One yard to go. 36 inches to go. The length of about three footballs to go, and three chances to do it.

Three running plays, no progress. Fieeeeeld goal. 10-3. Every Eagles fan now expects the next running play to come sometime around Hannukah.

Another great return by Wilson, more terrible kick coverage. Giants start pounding the rock up the middle. Collinsworth mentions something about how Kurt Coleman likes sniffing around the box and cheating on the run OMG FORESHADOWING.

Hixon with another nice back shoulder catch. No stopping that.

A few plays later, Cruz scores. Salsa music on NBC. 10-10. Ugh. 
Collinsworth does a nice job breaking the play down. Basically, Eli did exactly what the Eagles wanted him to do: think that he has an open quick slant to Cruz (with Boykin playing off him to the outside), only to have DeMeco Ryans jump in from his zone for the pick. Everything happens according to plan, but Ryans, who had a quiet night as it was, simply doesn’t get in place quickly enough.

Vick gets all week to throw the ball on the first play of the drive, so naturally he throws it off the ass of one of the five Giants surrounding DeSean.

Vick hits Celek, Shady gets tripped up, Vick scrambles for a first down. Matriculatin’ down the field. DeSean holds onto a tough pass where Corey Webster smacks him as soon as he gets the ball.

After Maclin gets popped by the Prince on third down for an incompletion, the only remaining member of the Flying Hen(e)ry Brothers boots a 48 yard field goal. 13-10.

Terrible coverage again on the kickoff. A minute later, NBC reveals that Asomugha actually never went to the hospital, like everyone (including NBC) reported a half hour ago. HE WAS NEVER HERE, TREBEK.
Al Michaels: “They have a jail in the stadium here, but not a hospital.” Go to hell, Al Michaels.

Eagles stop the Giants on 3rd down, but on 4th and 1, Kevin Gillbride whips out his titanic pair of buffalo chicken bites and goes for it in the shotgun, aka “The Mornhireid Special.” Cruz natural picks up 30 yards and a first down to end the third quarter.

FOURTH QUARTER

On the very first play Eli serves up the most inexplicable interception ever in the end zone.
No one open. No one close to being open.

Not to be outdone, DRC runs all the way across the end zone and inexplicably runs out it out anyway. He runs it back to the eight. 12 free yards go right down the ol' toilet.


Antrel Rolle trips blitzing on the next possession. Loser. Workhouse Stan Havili gets some carries. Shady starts breaking things open. Vick starts feeling pressure. Cylinders = firing. The drive eventually stalls, but Vick takes one of the smartest sacks of the year where, instead of chucking the ball into coverage rolling to his right (like he’s done at least twice this year), he simply goes down.

Henery for your fantasy team. 16-10.

Eagles finally keep the Giants inside the 20 on the kickoff, primarily because Wilson decided to run it out from the Schuylkill River.

Payback for the Chicken Steak Lady, who roasts Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen on consecutive plays with play action. Coleman over-bit so hard he needs braces. I’ll be here all week.

Two plays later, Bear Pascoe gets left wide open over the middle as Ryans gets all jammed up by the bunch formation. In Ryans’ defense, he’s far from the first person to forget about Bear Pascoe.
17-16. Game switches over to TNT: they know drama. Try the veal.

Boykin does more dumb stuff on the kick return. Jackson and McCoy gash the G-men on the first two plays. Maclin finally catches a ball. Vick scrambles for a first down. Celek catches one for eight.

Inside the 10, they sputter, but another strategic sack taken by Vick forces The Great Purple One to burn his last timeout. Henery, with new, apparently-not-very-good-holder Mat McBriar, comes in for a 26-yarder.
If it were a 27-yarder, it probably doesn’t go in. 19-17.

Wilson gets his usual 40 yards on the return. Giants at the 35.

Salsa Fingers falls down during his route on first down – incomplete. Manning drops the snap on second down and heaves it away – incomplete. A completion to Salsa gives the Giants 4th and 1 for the game.

Manning challenges DRC. Something called a Ramses Barden grabs DRC’s facemask. DRC gets his arms around Barden. Penalty……..DRC. Interference. Huge gain. New York now at the Eagle 35 with a minute to go.


After a DRC deflection and a Barden drop, Manning goes to Barden short. Asmougha and Coleman converge. Incomplete…but PI again, this time on Nnamdi. Absolute shenanigans.

Two plays later, from the 26, Manning goes for broke, bombing it to Barden, who apparently became the only open guy on the last drive. Barden and DRC go down. Flags abound.
No way these asshole refs, in their first week back, give the Giants three pass interference gifts on the last drive of a divisional game. Those sons of bit – 
RON WINTERS YOU GLORIOUS LOVABLE BASTARD.

No one had better dare compare this to the Jacoby Jones offensive PI that negated a touchdown in the Ravens game. Not even close. Barden threw DRC to the ground. The Giants’ entire two-minute drill consisted entirely of lofting it to Barden and hoping for penalties, and it nearly worked.

Eli overthrows Hixon on the next play, and with 15 seconds left, Coughlin sends Tynes in for a 54-yard attempt.
Wide left. Game over. And then, the worst possible thing imaginable is made a reality: Andy called timeout. Andy “froze” the kicker.
Any realistic Eagles fans turns the game off at this point. Absolutely no chance Tynes doesn’t make the next kick. Sure enough, his next crack is right down the pipe...
…but about five feet short.

Heart attack averted. Ballgame. 3-1. First place.

Zero turnovers for Vick and the offense. Vick was far from perfect, but a turnover-less game is fantastic at this point. Mornhireid kept plugging away with Shady, and it worked. The defense looked strong again, save for a couple blown coverages by the safeties and Ryans. (a rarity, at least for the latter).

Aside from the inexcusably poor special teams, this was how a game between the defending champions and the prospective challengers should look. And by hook or by crook, the Birds took it home. Have fun driving back up the armpit of America, fellas.

Steelers in Pittsburgh next week. I’ll be in the city, but not at the stadium. Wish me luck.
 
 
Whew.

Fly, Eagles, fly.
 
 
My only thought on the Packers-Seahawks train wreck of an ending last night: at least M.D. Jennings gets to have a Wikipedia entry longer than two sentences now.

On to recapping train wreck of particular interest for this blog.

FIRST QUARTER
Seriously, this is starting to piss me off. Yes, Vick is a free runner here, and this play is a legal hit, but give me a break if you think they wouldn’t have flagged Daryl Washington here for shucking Vick as he headed out of bounds. However, this did set the tone for the entire game, particularly for Washington.

Three straight passes for the Eagles to start. Awesome. Puuuuuunt city. The last first punt of a game for Chas Henry as an Eagle, incidentally.

Fred Durst starts throwing darts left and right. Big Fat Beanie Wells and his big, fat self fall down for a couple yards at a time. Thom Brennaman calls Trent Cole the name of the only white guy on the Eagles’ defense.  Jay Feely, who is probably incredibly popular in Arizona, knocks it home. 3-0 Black Cardinals.


Shady gets his first carry of the game. Mornhinreid determines this suffices as “establishing the running game” and commences Operation "Play Action Is Our Only Action." Vick gets annihilated, then has a tipped ball nearly fall right into William Gay’s hands, which is about the only way William Gay is coming up with an interception. The last second punt of a game for Chas Henry as an Eagle.

Andre Roberts begs for a flag on DRC for “preventing the receiver from catching the football.” Kolb tries to pull a Favre “going to the ground” shovel pass, and thanks to Larry Fitz, it almost turns into something.  Dave Zastudil, 33 going on 53, punts it to Damaris Johnson, who promptly coughs it up. Former Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach scoops it up and pretends he wasn’t down, jogging to the end zone. 853rd turnover of the year for the Eagles.


Durst overthrows Andre Roberts by a country mile, so Roberts begs for a penalty on the uncatchable ball. On the next play, he catches a quick hitch for a first down and celebrates his first career Super Bowl victory.
What a joke.

Even more of a joke: Michael Floyd’s twice-deflected touchdown reception.
In no universe should this scene ever turn into “Touchdown Black,” as they say in Scab Ref-ese. 10-0.

Celek ends the quarter with his usual manly ways, spinning away from Rashad Johnson for a few extra yards on a long pass.


SECOND QUARTER

Demetress Malone false starts by about a year.
Re-watching this game, I nearly forget how the Eagles ended up not scoring in this position. Then, to steal a phrase from Phil Sheridan, the Michael Vick Turnover Machine strikes again, as the ball pops out as he dives for a whopping two-yard pickup. Somehow, the refs give the Eagles possession, but after a Whisenhunt challenge, it’s Blackbirds’ ball.

At about this time, my friend Vince sees the following graphic and says “Vick’s turned it over 11 times??”
No, those are the total team turnovers. But the fact that 11 Vick turnovers seems like a reasonable number is telling.

So, as for Zona’s next drive…
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The ruling on the field is that the football is...uh...should be somewhere....between these lines...and there are two outs here in the bottom of the third set...Philadelphia has not been charged with a power play...according to my good friend at Aamco...Rob Schneider is...a carrot...herp de derp de deeedly dum...
I don’t know how much you guys have heard about this spat going on between the NFL and its regular referees, but if you weren’t aware, the current refs are replacements – that is, presumably not as good as the normal ones. You won’t believe this, but that’s causing problems in the game.

Take, for example, this sequence: On first down, Ryan Williams gains nine yards. After the play, Cards fullback Anthony Sherman starts some shite and gets an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That’s a dead ball foul, which means the penalty is added to whatever the result of the play is. That makes it 2nd and 16. Those are the rules. If you’re a rule junkie like me, it’s in Article 7.

Schmucky McSchmuckington, today’s head scab ref, declares it 1st and 16. This is wrong. Fox’s broadcast booth basically ignores him.

On 2nd and 16, Darryl Tap sacks Durst for about an 8-yard loss, but Arizona is hit with a holding call. Naturally, Reid would decline the penalty and put Arizona in 3rd and 24 rather than 2nd and 26. Schmucky doesn’t bother to ask Reid, though, and just tacks it on. Andy is….not impressed.
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I don't even care enough to go get this screengrab again without all the bells and whistles humming around. I just don't care.
Schmucky comes out for the correction. Then Ken Cheez Whiz pulls the ref aside to complain about….well, ahahaha, no idea. But somehow, this conversation encourages Shmucky to indicate that Andy wants to accept the penalty, and he goes to tell Andy he has no choice, and it is now 2nd and 26. At this point, I assume Andy has used up his daily allowance of oxygen and gives up as the ref hits his microphone for the third time about the same penalty.

Fortunately, the replacements spend another 45 minutes figuring out where to spot the ball. A Campbell’s soup can figure out where the ball is supposed to be on a down-to-down basis, but I have seen the scabs screw up ball spots after penalties in each of the Eagles first three games. These guys may be replacement officials, but this is not the first time they’ve seen this peculiar Earth-game involving an oblong-shaped piece of leather. I would assume that they’ve had to spot balls after penalties in Division III, high school football, or the annual prisoners vs. guards games they’ve worked before.

Anyways…*deep breath* If that last rant was too long and boring for you, I don't care. Ryan Lochte loved it.
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"I give this rant six swims....out of three."
Larry Fitz nearly picks up a 26-yard 3rd down conversion simply by virtue of being Larry Fitz. He does reverse the field position enough to allow Zastudil to pin the Eagles deep in their own territory.

Three passes, two deep in completions to DeSean, one sack. At least D-Jax spent the last 15 yards of his route complaining to the officials before the ball had even landed. The last third punt of the game for Chas Henry as an Eagle. I’m not tired of this joke yet.

Four plays later, Kurt Coleman and Nnamdi Asomugha get all kinds of screwed up by the play action fake, and it’s Fitzy again.
Tooooooo good. He probably cured AIDS while he was rolling into the end zone, too. 17-0.

Demetress holds, Celek gets hit twice by Kerry Rhodes after the ball sails out of his reach. They go to Shady on 3rd and 20 (of course), and he’s stopped. This is pretty much when you know the magic rally ain’t happening this time. The line is simply being manhandled.

The d-line keeps up the pressure on Durst, at least, and forces a punt.

Highlights of the last drive:

--William Gay makes his first play in eight years

--Damaris Johnson puts on a nice spin move in the open field to extend a big play

--The tight end screen picks up its 4th yard in as many attempts this year.

--Great Vick scramble on a broken 2nd-down play. As bad as he’s been at times this year, it’s always fun to see that.

With about 16 seconds left, Vick connects with DeSean at the one-yard line. As he turns to get into the end zone, Rhodes, who’s suddenly become LaRon Landry, stops him stone cold before he reaches the end zone. Reid burns his last timeout.

If you’re any kind of Eagles fan, you knew at this point there was an 85 percent chance they weren’t coming away with points. On the last play of the half, I gave it better than a 90 percent chance that Vick would either throw the ball away too late and let the last seconds tick away (a la the Buffalo game last year), or throw a pick in the end zone.

Turns out I was wrong.
24-0.

It’s not even worth talking about the second half. DeSean dogged it on a few routes, the line still looked like junk, and Vick looked like he was lost in Lollipop Woods. Arizona’s defense looks downright impenetrable. They are shockingly good.

G-men next Sunday night. Get ready, kids.
 
 
Since I forgot about the NFL's ban on watching any football other than the product being shown on live television as we speak, I won't be viewing yesterday's debacle a second time tonight. We'll have to wait til tomorrow.

In the meantime, while everyone wrings their hands over Andy's ongoing "evaluation" of the quarterback spot, the play of Demetress Malone and Dallas Reynolds, and oh God damn we're playing this game now...

(Best part of that second link is the injury list at the bottom saying, succinctly, "Fletcher Cox has migraines." I want that on the list every week)

Anyway, in lieu of actual analysis / well thought-out jokes about the game, I thought I'd just give a better visual representation of what happened yesterday by way of one of my favorite movies/books... (at 1:38)
G-men next week. Sheeeeeooooooote.
 
 
Not sure what we all just watched, but I'm certain it wasn't appropriate for network television audiences.

There are few moments worse as a sports fan than watching your team physically manhandled, pinned to the ground and forced to scream Uncle Ben and Jerry for three hours. It just happened.

Atrocious offensive line play. As Les Bowen pointed out, hard to tell if that's Vick not calling the protections right, Dallas Reynolds not calling them out right, or Arizona's controversial strategy of using wild hyenas in their front seven. 

Vick is going to be dead by the bye week either way if Demetress Malone doesn't start learning how to play left tackle again. A totally immobilized Jason Peters would be infinitely more effective at this point.

Taking bets right now on whether or not that 99-yard fumble return TD will be shown more or less than the "Vick being beaten up" montages the rest of the season.

DeSean mailed it in for 2/3 of the second half. 

Larry Fitz is still a monster. Andre Roberts is a baby-back bitch.

Thom Brennaman thinks that fumbling the ball once in your second career NFL game is an incomparable tragedy given how much he comforted Ryan Williams about it. Would hate to hear that Williams' car got a flat tire on the way home. Brennaman might try to start a foundation.

Kerry Rhodes is apparently allowed to hit Brent Celek whenever he wants to.
Scab refs keep on scabbin'. Spotting a football after a penalty must be on par with general relativity in terms of the most difficult concepts to grasp in mankind's history.

Good game by Fred Durst.

Going to go throw up for a bit. See you tomorrow, kids.
 
 
I have only now caught my breath from Sunday.

Rarely do you get playoff-caliber football in September from a game involving the Eagles. Usually those are saved for when Andy’s teams have picked up some steam (aka 2/3 of the way through the year when they need to win out with help to make the playoffs)

A quick recap. Ahahahaha, just kidding, it's about as long as a dissertation.

First Quarter:

A week after Vick threw the ball 56 times, Mornireid basically tells all Philadelphia armchair quarterbacks to go to hell and throws it 5 of the first 6 plays. Vick looks like a boss.

Shady gets one carry on the opening drive, the same number that Stanley Havili (fullback) and Damaris Johnson (wide receiver) get.

They’re literally ramming it down John Harbaugh’s dinky little throat when…

Don’t need to go any further. The good news is, at least this wasn’t EXACTLY like Vick’s across-the-body pass from last week – THAT one came when he was rolling comfortably to his left, rather than uncomfortably to his right. That’s good.

Joe Flacco’s hands are too covered with tears to hold onto the ball. Trent Cole knocks it out, and Cullen Jenkins swallows it whole.

We get our obligatory King Dunlap hold, followed shortly after by Reid whipping out his big brass pair and going for it on 4th and 1. Shady converts. Ed Reed smacks Vick in the face for roughing the passer. Of all the hits Vick has taken these past two weeks, this might be the least penalty-worthy of them all, which is funny because the last time he got a roughing the passer call was like 2003.

Shady hits paydirt. Welcome to 2012, bro.
Of course, Dionte Thompson gets a fantastic return and the Ravens start no-huddling to Kingdom Come. Kurt Coleman starts some shite with Anquan Boldin. Vonta Leach scores the first touchdown of his life, then loses his mind at Coleman. The most recent Getty photo matching “Vonta Leach + Eagles” is from the 2010 game with the Texans.

Reed annihilates Celek on the first play of the next drive. He doesn’t care. 
Reid keeps giving the ball to running backs who aren’t Shady McCoy. Ravens force a punt.


Second Quarter

Eagles hold, and Ray Rice begins walking the Trail of Tears.

Ravens try a fake punt and….Sean Considine trips over his own guy. Way to go.
This isn't the right picture, but I don't care.

DeSean starts some shite of his own on the next drive. The refs keep calling offsetting personal fouls to prevent them from having to make a game-changing call. Vick nearly throws a pick to Ray Lewis.

Bryce Brown goes “Don’t worry, I’ve got this” and lets a handoff go right off his chest. Ravens ball. Rice gashes the defense, then Flacco completes an unreal pass off his back foot to Jacoby Jones.
No defending that one. Ravens up 14-7.

Brandon Boykin has been taking Dion Lewis lessons in “Never Taking a Touchback No Matter How Deep In the End Zone You Start.” Bad returns all day.

Eagles and Ravnes trade 3 and outs. Shady drops a 3rd down pass that hit him right in the chest. Temple’s own Bernard Pierce gets a carry. He’s basically a non factor all day, though

McCoy starts getting his human jelly on during the next drive. Vick hits Celek deep downfield. Then…
Never forget.

Eagles stop the Ravens, then Damaris Johnson decides to field a punt inside his own 5 and goes nowhere. Ravens burn their timeouts, and Chas Henry gets off a garbage punt, allowing schmuck Billy Cundiff replacement Justin Tucker to hammer home a 56-yard field goal at the end of the half. Killer. 17-7 bad guys.

Third Quarter

Ravens start with the ball. Each of the linebackers gets a spotlight in coverage on the drive. Akeem Jordan falls down in coverage. Mychal Kendricks breaks up a pass. DeMeco Ryans picks the next one. More Wrestlemania action. Ray Rice gets a penalty because it’s about damn time.

Eagles mix things up on the next drive. Vick rolls out left on a play fake and finds Jeremy Maclin all by his lonesome in the endzone. 17-14.
Flacco shows his inner Brandon Weeden and overthrows anyone he can find wearing purple. Three and out.

On the next drive, Celek does this:
Air Captain.

Vick gets hit as he throws. Ball gets knocked backwards. The refs take an hour to blow the whistles and call it incomplete. Vick keeps throwing darts, but gets away with another near pick to Albert McLella

Vick comes up short scrambling on 3rd and 7 inside the 5. Reid challenges the spot. He loses, to the surprise of absolutely nobody. Henenenery knocks home a field goal. 17’s.

Flacco throws a ball over the William Penn statue. 3 and out. Eagles return the favor. Ray Rice breaks off a good run, but Flacco overthrows Anquan Boldin by about the size of a full Joe Flacco to end another drive.

In the middle of all this mess, Dunlap and Jason Kelce both get hurt. Better offensive lineman Demetress Malone replaces Dunlap. Kelce gets replaced by a guy who’s first name is Dallas. Naturally, Kelce is the one done for the season. Terrible, terrible break.

Vick goes deep to DeSean down the sideline, who hauls it in despite being popped by Reed. Doesn’t look like DeSean was thinking about his health there.
Next play, Vick fires it off Celek’s hands. Reed catches the deflection and barely even jogs until he’s tackled. It’s a little bit on Vick for an off-target throw, but Celek got two hands on it. For all the good he did Sunday, he should’ve held onto that one.

Flacco goes deep and spins Torrey Smith around like a pinwheel, but somehow completes it to end the quarter deep in Eagle territory.

Fourth Quarter

DRC illegally contacts someone. Eagles get a stop on 3rd down, but accept a holding penalty to push the Ravens back for a tougher field goal for Not Billy Cundiff. Naturally, they follow this up by getting flagged twice on the next play – Nnamdi for hand-checking Jacoby Jones all the way downfield, and Babin for being in Flacco’s general vicinity after a pass. Harbaugh takes the “general vicinity” penalty.

Flacco overthrows Dennis Pita Pit in the end zone. A delay of game and a DeMeco sack push Baltimore back to the 34. No matter. Tom Dempsey strolls in and crushes a 51-yard kick. 20-17 Ravens.

Weird sequence on the next Eagles drive. On a passing play, Evan Mathis gets called for holding (30 yards in penalties in two weeks for the Twitter king). Vick nearly gets sacked as well, but contorts his body and throws it away before his knee hits the ground. Instead of taking the 10-yard hold, Harbaugh challenges, hoping for the loss of yards and down that a sack would bring.  Challenge NOT ACCEPTED. Ravens blow a timeout.

Vick gets obliterated as he releases the ball on the next play by Pernell McPhee. Any time that happens and he doesn’t leave the game for a play is a little bitty miracle. Eagles punt.

Kurt Coleman gets upfield nicely on a tackle of Ray Rice in run support. Rice picks up a first down on a swing pass on the next play, then gives some body back to Coleman. A few plays later, after Kendricks nearly picks one off, Rice smokes the Eagles on a swing pass again, this time with a blitzing Coleman sprinting right past him (to his credit, Coleman wheeled around and chased him all the way down, but he blew the tackle from behind), Nobody likes Kurt Coleman.

Bernard Pierce goes backwards twice before Jacoby Jones catches a touchdown in the corner…that is called back for offensive pass interference.

Lots of hand action going on. Could go either way. Just be glad it went ours.

Flacco checks down on 3rd and forever, and Morten Andersen Jr boots home another one. 23-17 with 5 minutes left. It’s Mike Vick time.
Interesting stat: in the past five weeks of regular season football dating back to last season, Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson are No. 1 and 2 respectively in the NFL in yards per catch. Vick goes to each of them to start the drive, then scrambles out of bounds on the next play. Enormous asshole James Ihedigbo gives Vick an extra shove as Vick trots out of play. It’s that perfect ticky-tack type of shove that isn’t harsh enough to get a flag, but enough to prove your point – that you’re a dick.

Vick keeps working the Ravens secondary over. The refs call a second “roughing the passer” penalty against the Ravens, making this game about as common as Haley’s Comet. Refs don’t know how the clock works and we get two 2-minute warnings somehow.

After the second 2-minute warning, Vick throws a wobbly pass incomplete. We know this is a pass because the ball went forward, and because common physics suggest that when an object goes forward, there is generally propulsion forcing that object forward.

In addition to not knowing many of the basic rules of football, the schmuck refs also don’t know physics. The obvious incompletion is ruled a fumble recovered by Baltimore. The booth tells them to go correct their enormous f*** up. They do.

Eagles waste no time. Vick draw play. Chumba wumba. 24-23. 
In lieu of completing passes, Flacco spends the entire final drive looking incredulous about things. He finally completes one to Pita Bread, who gets out of bounds. Nnamdi gets another illegal contact penalty.

Eagles start deflecting everything. A couple plays after Brandon Boykin skied for a deflection, Nate Allen breaks one up. Flacco overthrows Pita again, then sails one about a hundred miles over the diving hands of 3-foot 2 Ray Rice. Flacco interprets Rice having to dive for the ball as evidence that some kind of penalty should have been called, because why not?
Vicktory formation. Harbaugh has 2 timeouts with 50 seconds left, but decides not to use them for some reason. Ballgame.

A couple other notes:

·      Expect a lot of “Let’s give Juan Castillo credit” articles in the next few days. The defense has been solid this year save for getting gouged by the Ravens sorta-no-huddle in the first half. Expect them to give up 35 points in a week or two once these Castillo articles hit a crescendo.

·      Every time Vick makes a somewhat bad throw, it ends up nearly being picked off, or actually intercepted. Every other ball he throws is gorgeous.

·      Shady carried it five more times this week and picked up 30 fewer yards, in addition to another fumble. Don’t care. Just keep feeding him the rock.

·      After solidifying the offensive line for the next 3 years or so with contracts in the offseason, the Eagles are now starting two backups in all likelihood (Bell and Dallas Reynolds).

·      Arizona Cardinals next week. Kevin Kolb, who beat the Pats despite staunchly refusing to throw the ball to one of the best receivers in the last decade, actually gets a chance to play. Ohhhhhhh boy, here we go.
 
 
Enormous win.

Vick threw a bad pick across his body (again) that killed a red-zone drive. Otherwise, he looked brilliant. Led another strong last-minute drive.

Brent Celek is a man. Shady is still human jello.

Brandon Boykin and Michael Kendricks look great in coverage. DeMeco Ryans can do no wrong. Juan Castillo is actually calling some good defenses instead of screaming quotes from "300" into his headset all game.

John Harbaugh might miss next week's Ravens game due to concussion-like symptoms after he basically forgot about Ray Rice and the hurry-up offense for most of the second half.

Scab refs keep on scab reffin'.

Grounds crew is going to have a tough week cleaning Joe Flacco's tears off the turf.

More to come tomorrow. Happy football.
 
 
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Don't worry, Brandon Weeden is still a puss.
Not content with making me feel stupid simply for plunking down money on Game Rewind this year almost exclusively for the All-22 tape, the NFL is hammering the point home by not providing the coach’s tape for the Eagles game, one of a handful that don’t have it yet available yet.

Considering some of the dumb stuff that happened in the second half, it’s possible Andy Reid doesn’t have the tape, either. Mike Vick definitely hasn’t seen it.

Here are a few things I missed from yesterday’s post after getting a chance to watch things again, though.
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DeSean looked great. His first catch came on a full-extension grab going across the fiefld, and Mornhinreid sent him over the middle a couple more times Sunday, as if they’re intentionally testing his comfort level now that he’s making gadzillions. There was a lot to like about DeSean’s game, particularly going against Joe “Not a Cheater, Pending Appeal” Haden.

Swarm action. DeMeco Ryans was a boss behind the line of scrimmage, but he also had a great tackle in coverage. Mychal Kendricks tackles like a man – a tackle is a tackle so long as the guy goes down, but to know my team has guys capable of absolutely thumping someone, especially after a full season of running the “Ole” drill and watching a Pro Bowl cornerback collide with other players trying to make tackles, fuels the Neanderthal in me. Also, Nate Allen made a nice open-field tackle on a swing pass in the first quarter.

King Dunlap could have been called for holding about 47 times. That’s all.

The screen pass worked precisely once. Every other time, it was busted up for a loss or a minimal gain.

Travis Benjamin is a wide receiver that wears 00. Asshole.

More official schmuckery. In addition to referring to the Eagles and Browns as “green” and “white” respectively on various calls, the referees also whistled Maclin in the second quarter for looking too gosh darn innocent on a Shady scamper. Maclin and Dimitri Patterson engaged for about a second before Shady blazed by, at which point Maclin promptly threw his arms in the air to ensure he wouldn’t be penalized for holding. Maclin was then penalized for holding.

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I want to make sweet, sweet love to DRC’s first interception. It’s what happens when a guy who was literally sculpted by the Lord above for the sole purpose of playing man-to-man coverage does everything right. In full stride, he propels his slender 6-foot-2 frame into the air to pluck Brandon Weeden’s first good 15-plus yard throw of the game out of the air. I wonder if DRC's first interception enjoys dinner and a movie as a first date, or if that's too old fashioned..

The second to last drive of the first half should’ve been a good indication that Vick didn’t have it. He overthrew open guys on three straight plays: a bomb to Jackson after he got behind the secondary, a wobbler towards the near sideline for a diving Maclin, and a laser ahead of Damaris Johnson heading over the middle. Of course, he also tossed a pretty deep ball to Maclin on the next drive. Just maddening.

Also, remember that rolling out, across-the-body pick Vick threw in the first half? He did almost the exact same thing early in the first half, trying to force the ball to Clay Harbor. Nothing like making halftime adjustments.

Chas Henry boomed punts like it was his job. Because it is. But he also outkicked his coverage a few times, only to have Akeem Jordan bail him out with two very nice solo tackles on elite returner JAWSH CRIII.

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DeSean also prevented yet another “Mike Vick’s going to lose this game no matter what you do” moment. Vick chucked the ball about fifty yards to Jackson in the end zone, but Haden got a step on him and nearly came up with the “nail in the coffin” interception. Jackson did his best impression of…well, Joe Haden, though, and swatted the ball away to prevent the turnover. Haden bitched about offensive pass interference because why not?

Brent Celek is a man. He got an extra 7 or 8 yards combined after being wrapped up on tackles, including his last catch of the game, where he dragged TJ Ward an extra four yards on the final drive of the game.

Dick Stockton is losing it. When he wasn’t giving DeSean Jackson touchdowns he didn’t score or marveling at how Trent Richardson was stopped by his own team’s defense, Stockton was blatantly more enthusiastic over Browns plays than Eagles’ ones. I hate accusing announcers of bias, but even Joe Buck thought Stockton’s call of Clay Harbor’s game-winning touchdown was dispassionate.

Brandon Weeden is just as bad upon a second look. I have no idea who he was throwing to on his last throw of the game. Kurt Coleman had to leap up for the interception, but there was no one behind him who he cut in front of for the ball  - it was just thrown about a mile over everyone’s head. Mohamed Mass Effect could have caught it if he were the size of the Sears Tower, I guess.

More of this, plus the sheer terror of having to face RGIII twice a year for the next two decades, tomorrow night, after yours truly spends the day tackling the toughest ball-carrier of all…the American justice system.
 
 
Well, NOW it’s officially fall. At least it is in my book, which I’ve come to understand differs from those of most meteorologists.

It’s not the gorgeous mid-60s weather here in the Philly burbs, the Phillies playing (somewhat kinda sorta) meaningful baseball, or the annual Kennett Square Mushroom Festival (featuring the renowned Fried Mushroom Eating Championship, where your $600 prize will cover about ten percent of your triple bypass).

Without a leaf on the ground or a school bus in site, you know it’s fall because there’s already a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. In Week One. After a win, albeit an atrocious one to watch.

Because of the NFL’s rule about using their “Game Rewind” service anytime when a football game could possibly be happening somewhere in the continental United States, I have yet to re-watch the game like I’d intended for this post. Looks like for the season, that’s going to come on Tuesdays. Hold back your tears, kids. Be strong.

In the meantime, let’s review the good, bad, and the Pugly (for Pat McQuistan, the Jeff Karstens of professional football) from Sunday’s game, in a 100 percent original blog post theme you won’t see anywhere else on the Internet. Nosiree.
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GOOD – Well, Mike Vick didn’t throw a fifth interception. That would’ve sucked.

BAD – Holy hell in a hand basket with ham and hot potatoes. In order, Vick’s picks came on:

1.     A ball thrown across his body as he rolled left (you’re not going to believe this, but it was underthrown).

2.     A throw into triple coverage.

3.     A ball that glanced off Jeremy Maclin’s hands and into Joe Haden’s pierogie basket – half Maclin’s fault for not hauling it in, half Vick’s for leading him too far.

4.     A throw into double coverage, where the other Cleveland dude in coverage was actually in better position for the sure pick than the backpedaling D’Qwell Jackson, who merely returned it for a touchdown.

Don’t forget the fumble on the final drive that, by the grace of the football gods, Vick fell right on top of with three Browns within 10 feet of it. Yes, he led the offense to the game-winning score, one of two uncharacteristically good two-minute drills that produced both Eagle touchdowns, but Vick nearly blew that last drive twice.

There’s “rust” and then there’s literally not seeing defenders.

GOOD – Vick did have two very nice scrambles – one for a first down on 3rd and 15 on the first drive of the game, and the other on the final drive where he spun for a first down amongst three tacklers. The second one would have been much better had he not nearly bobbled the game away with the fumble.

BAD – Every lineman except Todd Herremans got called for holding, and in order from left to right, to boot. If each member of line is whistled once in a game, Tastykake should give out free Chocolate Juniors to everyone at Wawa the next morning with the purchase of the Daily News.

BAD – Did you guys know Jason Peters didn’t play yesterday? It’s true! He’s injured, so he can’t play any football, and since he’s very good at football, that could be a problem.

King Dunlap is really, really bad. At least Andy put Clay Harbor next to him once in a while so he didn’t wither away into Winston Justice. Evan Mathis took two bad penalties as well, and his play tossed more grease onto the “is he even any good without Peters” fire. In short, losing a Pro Bowl left tackle bites the big one. You have to wonder why the front office decided not to sign anyone in the offseason to replace him.

GOOD: After a fumble on his first carry, Shady McCoy looked like his old self, dancing to 100+ yards. Of course…

BAD - …he got 20 carries. Bryce Brown had 2. DeSean Jackson had one. That’s 23 planned running plays compared to 60 passes. Michael Vick is a career 56 percent passer, (60.5 percent with the Eagles).  Vick’s 41st pass of the game was the pick-six. The Eagles ran 17 more pass plays after that, with Reid most likely cackling and downing a bear claw the entire time.

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PUGLY – Brandon Weeden didn’t get stuck under the flag by accident before the game– he was trying to see if the troops would let him use it later in the game to dry his tears. If you want to know why rounding up replacement schmucks to referee professional football games is a bad idea, check out the embarrassingly late roughing the passer flag against the Eagles in the third quarter, thrown only after Weeden threw up his hands, pissed his pants and begged for his mother’s teat. It was literally the only thing Weeden did successfully yesterday aside from completing quick slants.

Every time Weeden complains about a call the rest of his career, whichever broadcast network is showing the game should cue up one of those montages where Mike Vick is knocked down after a throw, hit by an oncoming train, hacked to pieces with a chainsaw, etc.

Each network has at least one montage for Vick getting the snot beaten out of him. It’s the NFL equivalent of the obit the New York Times has on file for anyone with a Wikipedia entry. Don’t worry, though – whereas a defensive end spinning out of his way to avoid hitting the quarterback, yet accidentally brushing him with his ring finger, is a 15-yard penalty, Vick getting body-checked five yards after every throw is perfectly OK.

GOOD – The secondary probably batted down more passes in yesterday’s game than they did all last season. DRC was a boss. Nnamdi laid a touchdown-saving smackdown on Travis Benjamin and deflected a ton of balls; aside from a bizarre play in the first quarter where he lined up about 45 yards off the line of scrimmage on a quick slant to Mohamed Mass Effect, he was great. Brandon Boykin played about two-thirds of the defensive snaps and had a nice leaping near-interception before he went down near the end of the game. Greg Little, the only receiver on the Browns with more talent than a can of Sierra Mist, had no catches on four targets.

PUGLY – Yep.

GOOD – The first couple times I saw Trent Richardson go down in the backfield, I was convinced it was a trick play surely some sleight of hand from Pat Shurmur. But sure as the Cuyahoga River is polluted, legitimate, two-armed, textbook tackles brought him down each time. If Jeremiah Trotter was the axeman, DeMeco Ryans can be Hatchet Harry. Mychal Kendricks looks rock solid and very un-Eagles linebacker-like. Even Jason Babin accidentally ran into the running back a couple times on his way to hitting the quarterback regardless of the play call.

GOOD/BAD/PUGLY – Maclin was flagged for a 50-50 offensive pass interference call on a hook route that happened to put him right where a charging Browns defender was chasing Shady early on. He caught a couple of nice long passes, then followed it up with a holding penalty. He also died about three times in the span of 10 minutes. Dimitri Patterson nearly KO’d him. It was that kind of game.

PUGLYSomething about the replacement refs.

GOOD – Brandon Graham didn’t get a ton of time, but he made a couple plays, including chasing Richardson down from behind on a run where Graham initially ran right past him into the backfield. This was mostly just a reminder that Brandon Graham still exists.

PUGLY – Good God, is Brandon Weeden bad or what?
GOOD – Hey, Andy didn’t do anything stupid with his timeouts! He actually used them well in the first half, conserving clock while Cleveland’s offense sputtered like a stalling Pinto to allow for a touchdown pass to Maclin, then didn’t use them once in the second half. Of course, if an extra timeout could’ve mitigated Vick’s 6-for-91 second half, I wouldn’t have minded that.

GOOD – Juan Castillo cooked up an above-average gameplan and the defense executed it to near perfection. Yes, this is how a defense dripping with talent and skill should play against an offense starting two rookies, a corpse and Joe Thomas (also known as Trent Cole’s bitch), but considering how often they underperformed and gave away leads last year, this was encouraging. It was also brilliant of Castillo to tell Kurt Coleman that the Browns were starting Rex Grossman at quarterback.

Like a philosopher with a mental tick once said, a win is a win is a win is a win is a win is a win is a swan is a swim is Swin Cash is Daddy gonna be home for dinner? In the standings, this is a W, which is all that matters. But considering the insanity this week will bring, you can count this one as a losing win. So while we’re talking about insanity and awful jokes, you can chalk this one up as a…
See you tomorrow, kids.
 
 
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Hey guys, FOOTBALL.

It’s time to shake the cobwebs off this sucker. Training camp is here! The Birds’ first preseason game is two weeks from tomorrow! The first Football Sunday is in 46 days! That’s 46 days until I can crank “Fly Eagles Fly” and watch my roommate flap his arms all around our apartment in his pajamas after every touchdown because THAT’S HOW WE DO IT.

Let’s get amped, people, because there’s BIG NEWS on the horizon:

The Philadelphia Eagles announced Wednesday they have agreed to terms with P Mat McBriar on a one-year contract.”

Oh.

Incumbent punter/less prolific half of the Eagles Flying Hen(e)ry Brothers Chas Henry was pretty terrible last season, ranking in the bottom third of the league in just about every relevant punting statistic and also being awful at throwing the same football he struggled to kick. And while blocked kicks are certainly a team failure as opposed to an individual one, as a punter, it is kind of your fault when you take 37 steps before booting the ball away.

Of course, Henry did outperform McBriar’s numbers last season, so what’s everyone so--

Finally a neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic nailed it. A cyst was impinging a nerve (in McBriar’s plant foot). McBriar was on the operating table shortly thereafter.

Ahhhh.

A one year contract for a former Pro Bowl punter who’s been consistently excellent for the past five seasons excluding the one where he had a cyst in his foot sounds just fine to me. Punter isn’t a position you usually “groom” a guy for, and Henry didn’t exactly come in brimming with potential and pedigree, either.

Yes, McBriar’s a former Cowboy, but he’s Australian, so it kind of cancels out. Besides, I hear good things about former Aussie rules football guys who switch between NFC East teams.

Congratulations to Andy and Co. for making us all talk about punting for a day. We’ll get to some fun stuff tomorrow.