One of the signs that things supposedly were pointing up for the Eagles, going into yesterday's game, was that both free safety Brian Dawkins and corner Lito Sheppard were getting healthier. Defensive coordinator Jim John-son talked on Thursday about how important it was to have his top two playmakers back in stride, for a team that ranked last in the league in takeaways, with 11.
Dawkins might or might not be back up to speed, five games after returning from a neck injury. He certainly didn't manage any takeaways yesterday, or have an impact on the game. Sheppard, bothered by a knee injury since the opener, had an afternoon as dreary as the weather. He was beaten over and over again for clutch catches, and also whiffed on a chance to tackle fullback Leonard Weaver on a screen. Sheppard eventually left the game, after, coach Andy Reid said, he "irritated his knee."
Sheppard was not available in the postgame locker room. He seemed to be laboring long before he actually left the field, in the third quarter.
"It looks like it's structurally sound, but we'll have to see how that goes," Reid said.
Corner Sheldon Brown tried to help out in the playmaking department, intercepting Matt Hasselbeck and forcing a Bobby Engram fumble, which Trent Cole recovered.
"I see people out there giving their all, and it's just not happening," Brown said. "I still genuinely think that we have a great football team. Why we don't show it all the time, I don't know . . . What are you going to do? You've got to continue to work, practice, play, believe in one another, play for one another."
The Eagles scored one touchdown - a 29-yard Brian Westbrook run after the fumble Brown forced - as a result of the two turnovers they forced. The Seahawks' first two touchdowns were set up by Lofa Tatupu interceptions.
"I just pray for him and hope he's OK," Brown said, after fending off a question about whether Sheppard was struggling with his knee well before he left the game. "We've got some great trainers; I'm assuming if he's out on the football field, he's well enough to play."
Right offensive tackle Jon Runyan thinks that just maybe, riding Donovan McNabb out of town on a rail isn't the key to finally winning the Super Bowl, after all.
"People just get excited about change, and change isn't necessarily good . . . People are upset that you're not winning Super Bowls, that you're making these runs in the playoffs but you're not winning Super Bowls. Well, there's about 25 other teams, other cities in this country that wish they had that opportunity," Runyan said after yesterday's loss. "People are just kind of bored with it. I'll take it any day of the week."
Brian Westbrook became the third Eagles running back with at least 3,000 receiving yards, joining Tim Brown and Keith Byars . . . Andy Reid said defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley "tweaked" his knee in the Saturday walk-through. On Friday, the Eagles listed Bunkley as "questionable" with an MCL sprain and hamstring spasms, but most indications had been that Bunkley would play . . .
Donovan McNabb was inactive, but stood on the sideline, wearing a droopy towel draped under a knit cap, which gave an effect something like dreadlocks . . . The Eagles had been 7-for-9 on fourth down before going 0-for-2 yesterday . . . Asked if he'd wanted A.J. Feeley to stay aggressive in the passing game after that first-play interception, Reid gave an uncharacteristically pithy response: "I wanted to make sure he threw it to our team," Reid said. "I didn't want him to throw it to the other team" . . . As expected, strong safety Quintin Mikell (MCL) missed his second game in a row. *