IT'S A head-scratcher, all right.

At his weekly postmortem news conference yesterday, Andy Reid noted that his team "struggled to sustain drives" in the second half of a crippling, 28-24 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Indeed, in the fourth quarter, I have the Eagles gaining 9, 6, 16 and 3 yards on their four possessions, ending with the Lofa Tatupu interception that kept Brian Westbrook's 64-yard punt return from mattering.

Westbrook is the only difference-maker the Eagles currently employ, a view that now has even been embraced by the team's official Web site. Yet the punt return was one of very few chances he had down the stretch to win the game - Westbrook carried three times on those

final four series, for 11 yards. He caught two passes, for 4 yards.

Meanwhile, four passes went to Kevin Curtis, two completed, for 12 yards. Two passes were aimed toward L.J. Smith (including the infamous down-the-sideline long toss on third-and-1). None completed. A.J. Feeley scrambled for 4 yards, and was sacked while scrambling, for a loss of 1. Correll Buckhalter gained 4 yards on a draw. Two passes went toward Reggie Brown, including the final, fatal interception. Nothing came from those.

Westbrook carried the ball once, in the Eagles' final three series. So it really is puzzling, isn't it, why those drives weren't more successful. Gosh, who can say?

What's that? They could have run the ball a little more, given that all afternoon, defenders were slipping and sliding when they tried to react to cuts in the open field? Maybe if Westbrook can go out there for two fourth-quarter punts, and bring one of them back 64 yards, he might do something equally dangerous, if they handed him the ball a few more times?

"We were trying to win the football game the best way we could. If you think he should have run it more, then that's what you'll write, there, but we were trying to do what we needed to do to win the game at the time," Reid said when asked about that yesterday.

Reid opined that the only thing to do in the wake of defeat is "learn from your mistakes and move on," something this 5-7 season has afforded the Eagles bountiful opportunities to do. Yet Reid and his offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, don't seem to embrace the concept.

The Eagles point to successful teams such as New England and Indianapolis, even Green Bay, as examples of pass-based offenses that win (leaving aside the fact that the Patriots rank seventh in the league in rushing). They think this validates their approach. And it would if they had the quarterbacking and the weapons that those teams possess. But they don't, right now.

In terms of offensive talent right now, the Eagles are actually more like the middle-of-the-pack teams they are fighting against for a shred of wild-card hope. Like, say, the 8-4 Giants, who come to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday with the league's sixth-ranked rushing attack.

Developing story line

-- One thing didn't change from the New England game - Jim Johnson continued to move Chris Gocong around, to good effect.

-- One thing didn't change from the New England game - Jim Johnson continued to move Chris Gocong around, to good effect.

-- The New England linebacking corps gets a lot of hype, but that's an older group, much better in run support than in defending the pass. This just in - Seattle's linebackers are younger, quicker, and they practice against a West Coast offense every day.

-- The Eagles' offense ranked fifth in the NFL going into last night's action. The four teams ahead of the Birds were New England, Dallas, Green Bay and Indianapolis. Combined record, 42-5. What's wrong with this picture?

-- There's one Eagle who definitely deserves a Pro Bowl berth, but might not be well-known enough to make it, on a struggling team. Brian Westbrook? No, everybody knows about him. Trent Cole? Ditto, just check out the blocking schemes lately. They both should go to Hawaii, but the guy who should go with them is third-year defensive tackle Mike Patterson. Patterson had three solo tackles, two assisted tackles and half a sack Sunday, playing without injured partner Brodrick Bunkley. According to the Eagles, that gave Patterson 84 tackles (solos and assists) this season, best among Birds defensive linemen. The NFL keeps the stat only unofficially - it just records the postgame totals reported from each city, whereas most teams, including the Eagles, go back and look at tape to get the true count for their players, particularly after away games. Even so, the league has Patterson with 56, the highest total listed among NFL defensive tackles, going into last night's action.

Who knew?

That "Lofa Tatupu" roughly translates into "Hey, A.J., I'm open! Put it right here, between the 5 and the 1!"

That roughly translates into "Hey, A.J., I'm open! Put it right here, between the 5 and the 1!"

Obscure stat

It's pretty understandable why this got overlooked on Sunday, but when Brian Westbrook ran 29 yards for a touchdown after Correll Buckhalter's 30-yard TD run, those became the longest scoring runs by two different Eagles backs in the same game since Oct. 6, 1946, when Bosh Pritchard ran for a 68-yard TD and Steve Van Buren had a 31-yard TD in a 49-25 win over the Boston Yanks, at Shibe Park.

It's pretty understandable why this got overlooked on Sunday, but when Brian Westbrook ran 29 yards for a touchdown after Correll Buckhalter's 30-yard TD run, those became the longest scoring runs by two different Eagles backs in the same game since Oct. 6, 1946, when Bosh Pritchard ran for a 68-yard TD and Steve Van Buren had a 31-yard TD in a 49-25 win over the Boston Yanks, at Shibe Park.

Extra point

Last year, when the Eagles went into an important conference home game the first weekend of December with a 5-6 record, they won, 27-24, starting the five-game victory streak that took them to the playoffs. Yes, Jeff Garcia threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, but ultimately, they won because with the Carolina Panthers on the Eagles' 7, and 28 seconds left, Jake Delhomme's pass to Keyshawn Johnson went straight to Lito Sheppard, who intercepted to seal the victory.

Last year, when the Eagles went into an important conference home game the first weekend of December with a 5-6 record, they won, 27-24, starting the five-game victory streak that took them to the playoffs. Yes, Jeff Garcia threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, but ultimately, they won because with the Carolina Panthers on the Eagles' 7, and 28 seconds left, Jake Delhomme's pass to Keyshawn Johnson went straight to Lito Sheppard, who intercepted to seal the victory.

Sort of like Lofa Tatupu did on Sunday, only for the other team.

The point is being made today because there is a school of thought that says if Brian Westbrook's near-miracle punt return had gone all the way for a winning score on Sunday, instead of "only" getting the Eagles to Seattle's 14, or if the Eagles had then scored a TD instead of being intercepted, it wouldn't have made much difference in the long run - this would still be a fatally flawed team, not really playoff-worthy.

Which would have been pretty much exactly the consensus a year earlier, had Delhomme found Johnson in the end zone and dropped the Birds to 5-7.