The Philadelphia Eagles are often haunted by the likes of the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Eagles fans like myself have been bedeviled by our share of rivals over the years, yet we've rarely considered the Arizona Cardinals as a rival. But the Cardinals have indeed had their way with Philadelphia for a while - albeit not as dominantly as they had on Sept. 23.
The last two times the Cardinals faced the Eagles, Arizona destroyed their 2009 Super Bowl dreams and pretty much delivered the death blow to their 2011 season. Now in 2012, the Cardinals have shattered the illusion of the Eagles' deceptively successful start, by bringing it all crashing down with a 27-6 victory.
Arizona had its way with Philadelphia from the opening snap, as the Eagles had a quick three-and-out and then got fortunate to hold the Cardinals to an opening field goal. There weren't many more breaks after that for the visiting Birds, as the host Birds slaughtered Vick with what may be the next great defense in the NFL.
Vick found a way to carve up the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens when it counted, despite hard hits and turnovers. But while the Cardinals kept the hard hits and turnovers coming, they were much better prepared to hold on. It helped that the Eagles' own defense couldn't bail Vick out either, as Kevin Kolb, of all people, had his way with his old team.
The reemergence of old Eagles killer Larry Fitzgerald helped too, as he went from having five catches in his first two games to having a more typical nine-catch. 114 yard and one touchdown afternoon. Yet despite Kolb and Fitzgerald putting the Eagles down by 17-0 early, Philadelphia was on the doorstep of a late first half touchdown and spawning hopes for a third straight comeback.
But when it comes to the Cardinals-Eagles rivalry, all the breaks seem to go in Arizona's favor. The killer one this time came when Vick's latest fumble at the goal line led to a 93-yard touchdown run by James Sanders. And unfortunately, rallying from a 24-point deficit in the second half is far more difficult than rallying from a six-point deficit in the final minutes.
If the Eagles still recover to make the playoffs, they have to hope and pray that the Cardinals cool off and can't meet them. Although Philadelphia is a far more prestigious franchise with a far longer history of success, it doesn't seem to matter when it faces Arizona anymore.
It didn't matter in the 2009 NFC title game, for reasons we Eagles fans still can't fathom. But by the time the Cardinals finished their first-half shellacking, it was a little easier to understand why they still have Philadelphia's number.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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