Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Photo: “Philadelphia Eagles iPhone/iPod Touch Wallpaper” by Brian Wilson licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2

 

You know the second verse of the Eagles song? I think it goes “fight, Eagles, fight,” if I’m correct. Well, apparently, the Eagles seem to have gotten the message over the past few years and continue to display that heart on the field, no matter who is wearing the uniform. Has it been easy? No way! It’s been pretty ugly, but Carson Wentz and the Birds keep getting up off the dirt to rally back. 

When Baltimore came to town, we knew it was going to be an ugly day. The previous year’s MVP lined up at quarterback, and though he didn’t offer an MVP showing, he was pretty dynamic. Lamar Jackson — or the second coming of Michael Vick — put together a solid first half, putting the Ravens up 17–0 by the half. Again, ugly.

The Eagles found a way to score 10, but Baltimore tacked on another 13 points to go up 30–10 by the time the fourth quarter was rolling around. This was when Wentz took the reins and began to deliver. 

Outscoring the Ravens 22–6 in the final quarter of play, Philly’s offense ignited an improbable comeback against one of the league’s finest squads. It all came down to a two-point try that was needed to tie the game, and it didn’t work out. Not only did it not work out, it also raised questions towards Doug Pederson’s play-calling (again), as the play looked busted from the start. For some reason, calling a run option against one of the league’s best run defenses isn’t a great decision — who knew?

However many flaws we find with the play-calling, we can’t ignore the fact that this offense was able to put together scoring drives in the final few minutes of this game against a very good defense. With the weapons of Richard Rodgers, Travis Fulgham, John Hightower and Greg Ward, the Eagles found a way to get within two points of a legitimate playoff contender. 

After two weeks in a row of improbable comebacks against some of the AFC’s best that came up short, Philly took on the lowly Giants on Thursday night. In the epic battle of juggernauts (lol), the 1–5 Giants took on the 1–4–1 Eagles to duke it out in a crucial divisional game. And it played out as ugly as you’d expect. 

The Birds came out firing in a quick-paced, efficient first drive, reminiscent of those 2017 days when they could start games fast. After that, however, they began to deflate. New York stumbled a few drives together to tie the game and Philly responded with a field goal. 

Wentz looked reckless, making desperation heaves that should’ve resulted in interceptions (one of them did). After two turnovers by the defense, the Eagles put up nothing to show for it. One was the interception by Wentz and the other a missed 29-yard field goal by Jake Elliott — what’s going on with him? Cameron Johnston booted a short point and set up New York in great field position, and the defense got all tuckered out as a result of so many terrible offensive drives and allowed 14 unanswered points. 

After several three-and-outs, questionable playcalls, an 80-yard Daniel Jones run during which the best defender on the field was the turf monster and more, the Eagles were falling flat. With the score 21–10 and about six minutes left, fans likely turned to the presidential debate to calm their nerves — yeah, the game was that painful. Little did they know, Wentz had the Giants right where he wanted them. 

John Hightower hauled in a 59-yard reception and sparked life into the offense. Quickly, the team scored on a Greg Ward reception on a rollout from Wentz. Following this drive, Jones and the Giants tried to put the game away and had a huge chance on a wide-open Evan Engram. He dropped it (how does it feel?). Now it was up to Wentz to orchestrate another game-winning drive.  

The Birds marched all the way down inside the five to try and punch it in, but a Jason Kelce facemask call pushed them back to the eighteen. Then, in the midst of an ugly, borderline pathetic matchup, came a beautiful play — and I mean textbook perfection. With the game on the line, Number 11 stepped up in the pocket, past the rush and tossed a god-like throw to Boston Scott, who was well covered, to take the lead. 

On the Giants’ final drive, Brandon Graham did what Brandon Graham does: stripping the ball from Jones to give the Birds the victory — seriously, the guy deserves a statue for how many times he’s won us games like that.

And so, the Eagles claim first place in a horrendous NFC East, at least until Sunday when Dallas and Washington face off. Short-term view aside, what can we get from this game and the previous two, which have seen late-game rallies? I see some signs of encouragement in the late comebacks by Wentz and his inexperienced counterparts, but I also see so much inconsistency in several aspects. Wentz must learn to throw the ball away; it is becoming more evident than ever before. This team goes as he goes, especially with the injuries all around. 

I will say that it seems unfair that the same people who are praising Foles, Brady, et cetera for these late-game rallies always focus on those comebacks and not the terrible performance by saying “a win’s a win,” are still bashing Wentz when he has done similar things over these past few years. For right or wrong, I still think he deserves some credit carrying a handicapped team into the playoffs last season and playing admirably this year. 

It’s a long road ahead for Philly: the trade deadline looms as Roseman must decide if he will part with aging veterans to plan for the future or try to retool for the short-term playoff run in the weakest division in sports. The Birds take on the Andy Dalton-led Cowboys next Sunday night to fight for first place. We’ll see how that goes. Fly Eagles Fly. 

 

 

Joseph Gill is a second-year English writings major. JG923276@wcupa.edu

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