The play-calling

Next to bashing Donovan McNabb's work at quarterback, criticizing the play-calling has become the second favorite pastime of Eagles fans.

For those so inclined, here are two legitimate gripes involving Sunday's loss.

After the Eagles had moved the football well on their first two drives, they got a chance to start in excellent field position at the Giants' 47-yard line on their third possession. Nine runs had produced 47 yards and a touchdown, and McNabb had gone 4 for 5 for 45 yards with a short passing game.

So why did the Eagles feel the need to have wide receiver Greg Lewis throw a pass on a second-and-6 play from the Giants' 43? The play was a miserable failure and McNabb's third-down pass had no chance of being completed, forcing a punt.

A worse decision was made at crunch time. With the Eagles facing a third-and-5 situation from the Giants' 43, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called a running play to Brian Westbrook that went for a 1-yard loss.

If the Eagles throw the football there and the pass is incomplete, at least 2 minutes and 10 seconds would have remained on the clock. At that point, the Eagles could have punted and tried to pin the Giants inside the 10, with two time-outs and the two-minute warning remaining.

That could have made the final drive a little less desperate. The Eagles would have had more than 53 seconds left.

Defensive MVP

If defensive end Trent Cole isn't voted the team's defensive MVP by his peers, they should do away with the award. Cole ended the Giants' first offensive series with a sack of Eli Manning after he ran right past offensive tackle David Diehl.

Earlier in the series, Cole teamed with Mike Patterson to stop Brandon Jacobs for a 2-yard loss. He opened the Eagles' second defensive series by teaming with linebacker Omar Gaither to stop the Giants running back for a 3-yard loss.

On the Eagles' goal-line stand early in the second quarter, it was Cole's pressure that forced an incomplete pass in the end zone to tight end Jeremy Shockey.

Awful officiating

If the late Hank Stram would have witnessed this game, he'd have come to the conclusion that the men in striped shirts were a bunch of "over-officious" gentlemen. He'd have been half right, because at times they were under-officious.

The most obvious piece of awful officiating was the missed pass-interference call on Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce against Jason Avant just after the two-minute warning. Umpire Roy Ellison whiffed on that one.

Oblivious referee Ron Wilson ignored cornerback Sam Madison holding Westbrook back from getting to the line of scrimmage after the Eagles' second completion of their final drive, costing the Eagles at least five seconds and a chance to run one more play.

Madison also should have been flagged for pulling off McNabb's helmet at the end of a fourth-down quarterback sneak on the Eagles' second offensive series. Wilson was standing right there when it happened, but apparently it was a foggy day at the Linc.

Head linesman Tom Stabile flagged cornerback Lito Sheppard for slamming wide receiver Sinorice Moss late in the first quarter. Moss was still in bounds on the play, and Stabile did not start blowing his whistle until Sheppard took the receiver off his feet and started to hurl him to the ground.

We'll give referee Wilson this much credit: His crew got the two plays that were reviewed right.

- Bob Brookover