The Philadelphia Eagles have established a rather unhealthy way to win this year. Eagles fans like myself know that struggling for almost four quarters, getting a late go-ahead touchdown drive and then holding on at the last minute can't work for an entire season. Yet it almost worked again when Philadelphia faced the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 7 - except the end result was finally different.
Once again, the Eagles were the inferior team and yet still took the lead in the fourth quarter. But when the time came for the defense to cap off the steal, it couldn't hold on as the Steelers salvaged a 16-14 victory with a last-second field goal.
Until then, the usual formula was working perfectly for the Eagles - even the really bad parts. Michael Vick did his part with two fumbles, including one very costly one on the goal line in the first quarter. Other than that, the offense did virtually nothing for much of the afternoon, while the defense had to keep Philadelphia afloat. However, Pittsburgh was doing just enough to hold a 13-7 lead going into the final frame.
But as he always seems to do, Vick woke up to put together a go-ahead drive. Yet unlike in past wins, he did it a little bit too early. Instead of putting the Eagles ahead with mere minutes or moments to spare, Vick threw a touchdown to Brent Celek with under seven minutes left. That was far too much time left for the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger, as they made sure the Birds wouldn't get the ball back again.
With Pittsburgh staring at a 1-3 record, it snapped to action and methodically moved downfield until it could try a winning field goal on the final play. The New York Giants did this to Philadelphia on Sept. 30, but circumstances knocked them so far back that the decisive kick fell inches short. This time, however, the Steelers were close enough to easily split the uprights and end the Eagles' run of improbable luck.
Everything was in place for Philadelphia to steal yet another win, but the formula finally fell apart when it counted the most. And now that waiting until the last several minutes to go ahead doesn't work all the time anymore, maybe the Eagles will try another winning formula at some point - if one is even in them.
This wouldn't be such a concern if Philadelphia had won any other way once this season. But we are still waiting for the Eagles to have a solid, 60 minute game, instead of puttering around and making mistakes for 50-55 minutes before waking up. Now that the Steelers have finally burst their bubble, we have to feel a bit more impatient for that solid 60 minute game.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- the Eagles
- Michael Vick
- Pittsburgh Steelers