The Eagles Won. Who Cares?

Fans shouldn't take last night's victory too seriously. The Birds haven't earned our enthusiasm this season

There are few things that bring as much joy to an Eagles fan as the combination of utter disgust and confusion that appears on Tom Coughlin’s face when his Giants mess up. Sunday night’s surprising 17-10 victory produced several such looks from the New York coach, adding tasty seasoning to the already-delicious triumph.

The win was fun to watch, and the fourth-quarter drive that produced the go-ahead touchdown was the kind of clutch performance that becomes part of a great rivalry’s lore. A season that was 60 minutes from flat lining remained alive–though barely–thanks to an improbable Sunday night in the Meadowlands.

You’ll pardon me if I’m not smiling this morning. The Eagles may have kept whatever faint playoff hopes they have alive by overcoming the Giants, but all the game did was remind me how poorly they have played up to this point and how things could be so much different. After watching them blow a 20-point lead against San Francisco and choke it up against the wretched Cardinals, it’s hard to generate any enthusiasm for the victory over New York. Every Eagles fan should feel the same way, especially since the team followed up its last win – a stirring triumph over Dallas – by getting punched in the mouth by Chicago and showing no character in the loss to Arizona.

The main thing Sunday night’s win did was remind us of the blown potential that has characterized the 2011 campaign. How is it possible to go on the road against a quality opponent and play with enthusiasm – albeit sometimes misplaced – one week after looking like absolute imposters against the Cards? Granted, it is late November, and the Giants are due for their annual dive into the NFL sewer, but this was still an impressive triumph, accomplished with a backup quarterback and a wide receiver who had not caught a pass all year, before snaring five Sunday night. But the undercurrent of the win is not that it will serve as a building block for bigger things or that it could catapult the Birds to NFC East contention. Instead, it should be a reminder of just how mystifying this season has been.

In other seasons, this morning would have dawned with Eagles fans feeling satisfied and almost giddy at the prospect of having sent a stadium full of New York/New Jersey/Connecticut residents into the night muttering about their team’s inadequacies. Instead, it began with a sense of something missing. The win was great. The defense played with a spirit and effectiveness that has been heretofore missing. And Young, despite his three interceptions, was effective and fearless on the decisive drive.

It’s not enough. With six games left, the Eagles are a mediocre 4-6, still at least two games behind four other teams for a wild-card spot and barely getting enough oxygen to keep alive. New England comes to town Sunday, so thoughts of an easy follow-up are ill advised. Anyway, this is no time to be looking at the final six games and saying, “If the Eagles can beat either New England or Dallas and take care of the rest of their opponents, they might just win the division.” Given this team’s proclivity for inconsistency, that would be a futile exercise. Worse, it would be masochistic, since building up one’s hopes about this team could lead to serious disappointment down the road.

In addition to generating anger and heightening the frustration Eagles fans have felt all season, Sunday’s win also made it less likely Jeffrey Lurie will dismiss Andy Reid. It’s still possible for the Eagles to finish 4-12, but beating the Giants is a nice chip for Reid to have at the end of the season. He can point to the team’s ability to overcome adversity and injury and play tough on the road against a division opponent. The win quiets some of the talk that he had lost the locker room, because if there were a mutiny afoot, there’s no way the Eagles could have been so effective.

On one hand, it’s good that the Eagles won. Now, fans can live another week, even if the team remains on the outskirts of real contention. It’s never good to have your season end before December dawns. After all, this isn’t Washington. On the other, giving fans false hope and reminding them what might have been possible if the team had played with more heart earlier is almost cruel. For every good feeling that comes from beating the Giants, there are five other stomach-churning memories that arise from the early-season debacles.

Sunday’s win over the Giants was impressive. Rather than get excited about it, fans should wonder how their team has reached a point in the season where such an accomplishment could be viewed with suspicion. The Eagles could tear off three or four wins in a row, or they could fall in an ugly way to New England next Sunday. The team would like you to believe that’s part of the rollercoaster of being a fan. Don’t buy it.

Beating the Giants was a nasty prank played by a team that has been misbehaving all year. Be careful how you treat it. You never know what will happen next.


  • So, the Phillies’ big moves to fortify their lineup include signing a 41-year old DH (Jim Thome) and a career .265 hitter (Ty Wigginton) who has struck out more than twice as often as he has walked. Oh, and did we mention Ben Francisco will probably be back? Not quite what we had in mind.
  • Here’s a stat that the NBA Players Association rank-and-file should consider as they continue to promote the “nuclear winter” strategy of negotiations: There will be 60 first-round draft choices entering the league next year, from the 2011 and 2012 Drafts. That means 60 current players (or 13.3% of the league’s workforce) will be dropped from rosters to make way for the new guys’ guaranteed contracts. Still want to trash the 2011-12 season, fellas?
  • That BCS is just the best, isn’t it? Anybody who watched LSU’s drab, 9-6 win over Alabama earlier this month can’t be too excited about the prospect of a rematch. But that’s what we’ll likely get for the “national championship” game. Can’t wait to see the ratings on that one.