First off, I couldn't have been more wrong about this team over the last 4 weeks. Not that Jeff Garcia cares what I think, but I need to apologize to him for my poor assessment of his abilities. Based on his performance in other systems over the last few years, I thought he was a complete dud. Yet, he has run this offense with optimum efficiency...and dare I say that he's been running this offense the way that a west coast offense is supposed to be run?...and could I say further, that he's been running it better than McNabb had been running it? Ok, maybe I went too far there...or did I? That sure is an interesting topic for debate.
There's no way a few weeks ago that I thought I'd be saying the following now:
* Eagles beat Dallas on Christmas 23-7in Dallas.
* Third straight Division road win, catapulting our team to first place in the East.
* We clinch a playoff berth.
COMPLETE DOMINATION TODAY. I haven't been able to say this very often, especially recently. Even Bill Parcells said that the Cowboys had no real shot at winning at any time during the course of the game today. The Birds played their best game of the season and in my opinion, had their best overall performance that I've seen in years.
More than usual, today's game was won on the Lines: Along with Jeff Garcia, the O-line deserves a commendation medal for its performance. They were blowing the Boys' D-line off the ball, gouging large holes for Buck and the Brook. The "heaviest line in the League" pulled more than its weight today. Andrews played to his Pro Bowl abilities. The Brook had 122 yards rushing - what a great season he's had. He's an elite RB now - how fortunate are we to have a guy like this? Pro Bowl snub is all I can say! In any case, it was nice to see a sense of urgency back in the offense...Garcia doesn't saunter up to the line, letting precious time tick away, he doesn't hesitate and go deep every time. I actually love the way he runs the offense now. I hated him a month ago, now he's completely earned my respect.
I am all about clock control and gaining the edge on time of possession - today was a great example of how that translates to victories. Marty Mornhinweg called a great game, sticking mostly to the run and the occasional short pass: 42 RUNS, 23 PASSES, which helped us control the ball for 37 minutes, and thereby dictate every aspect of this game. I love that ratio. Um, can I ask where the run has been all of these years? I don't get it Andy. You're an enigma.
On the Birds defensive side, the D-line again stepped up and put good pressure on Romo, but better yet, they completely killed the Cowboys' running attack, holding them to 83 total yards. HOW ABOUT THAT 4TH DOWN GOALLINE STAND? What an idiot Parcells is for going for two 4th down conversions on one drive - Dallas had no points then - why not just take the 3 points? Why risk it? At that point, it would have been 7-3 and it was still early in the game. After that crushing blow on the goalline, Dallas had no wind in its sails...good for us I guess, but just a strange decision to me. Overall, I was most surprised by the Birds' run defense. Romo was the rushing leader for Dallas, and those yards were mostly from broken plays. Lito and Dawkins had a couple of nice INTs, again created from pressure from the D-line. Has the decision to move Gaither in for McCoy been important?
As an "added bonus", wasn't it nice to see TO have 2 key drops today? Did I hear right that he's leading the League with 14 drops? I hope that's correct. Man, I hope he just disappears over the offseason - mostly I'm just sick of hearing and talking about him.
So, I really don't have a lot of criticism of this team after today's performance, except...
...the only negative I see from the win today is that it will delay the Birds' organization in moving Reid to a GM only spot and getting a new on-field head coach. Another playoff berth will contribute to Reid's tenure as being a "success". I know, you're thinking, how can Big Red not be considered a success given all of his victories? But I still don't have confidence in him, that is to win us a Super Bowl. Again, I'm a broken record, but I don't understand Andy Reid: Why does it take a coach so long to realize that a running game is essential? That Pinkston and Thrash aren't championship caliber WRs? That controlling a clock is crucial? That throwing deep 12 times in a game isn't a good plan? etc. etc. All I'm saying is that it's been interesting to see how different the team looks when they finally do the things that we've all been bitching about for the last 5 years. Things that winning coaches do. So, Andy's not going anywhere for a long time now.
In any case, it's amazing how quickly ones fortunes can change. "One more bet and I'm up" as Poppy the Jew likes to say.
Can anyone figure the NFC out at this point? What does this win mean to our playoff hopes? Not too much in my opinion - it's wide open right now so we don't have a better chance than any other team. And most importantly, I still need to protect my egg-like psyche from another crushing disappointment, so I think it's best not to worry about it for now. I think I'll just bask in this third straight Division road win, and let visions of sugar plumbs (whatever they are) dance around in my head.