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Under the Microscope ...' Wrapping up Week 14

After a review of the game tape, here is a look at three key Eagles in Sunday's 16-13 loss to the New York Giants.

Guard Todd Herremans tosses a Giants defender away from the pile after a Donovan McNabb sneak for a first down.
Guard Todd Herremans tosses a Giants defender away from the pile after a Donovan McNabb sneak for a first down.Read moreRON CORTES / Inquirer Staff Photographer

After a review of the game tape, here is a look at three key Eagles in Sunday's 16-13 loss to the New York Giants.

Brian Westbrook

Without question, the biggest shame of the Eagles' season is going to be the wasted brilliance of their star running back. Westbrook ran 20 times for 116 yards and caught five passes for 38 yards and a touchdown against the Giants, but a statistic you won't find anywhere is how many yards he picked up after being hit.

That unofficial total after watching the television replay was 59 yards.

Some examples: On the Eagles' first possession, Westbrook eluded a tackle by safety Michael Johnson to pick up an additional 13 yards on a 16-yard run. A few plays later, he made defensive end Michael Strahan miss a chance to throw him for a 4-yard loss and turned the play into an 8-yard gain to the Giants' 18-yard line.

Westbrook did not have a big receiving day, with his only significant catch coming on a short dump-off from Donovan McNabb on the first series. The play went for an 18-yard touchdown, thanks to guard Shawn Andrews' block on Johnson.

Westbrook's first fumble in 556 touches, midway through the third quarter, was costly because it gave the Giants a short field and momentum. Defensive end Justin Tuck, a rising star on the Giants' line, made a great play to strip the football, but only after tight end L.J. Smith made a lame attempt to block him at the start of the play.

The last play of the third quarter and the first play of the fourth were vintage Westbrook. He made an incredible cutback to his right for a 10-yard gain to close out the third quarter, then used a stutter-step to make cornerback Kevin Dockery look foolish on a 21-yard run.

A trip to Hawaii and the Pro Bowl should await Westbrook, but he would be an MVP candidate if he played for a better team.

Todd Herremans

The guard was off to a bad start before he even took the field. Coach Andy Reid had disciplined Herremans by holding him out of the starting lineup.

Nick Cole got his first career start at left guard, and the Eagles scored their only touchdown of the day when he was on the field, prompting someone to ask Reid yesterday if we might see more of Cole.

"We'll see how it goes down the road here," Reid said. "He did a nice job when he was in there."

Cole's only real noticeable moment was when he failed to pick up blitzing Antonio Pierce, who failed to get to McNabb only because fullback Thomas Tapeh got to the linebacker.

Herremans' day did not get all that much better after he got onto the field.

After linebacker Omar Gaither forced a fumble that defensive tackle Mike Patterson returned to the Giants' 8-yard line early in the second half, Herremans was whistled for a false-start penalty that moved the Eagles back to the 13 and triggered a series of mishaps that forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal.

On the play after the false start, Herremans could not handle Osi Umenyiora on an inside stunt, leading to the defensive end's seventh sack of McNabb this season.

On a critical third and 5 in the fourth quarter, Herremans could not contain Tuck, who slowed down Westbrook on a play that resulted in a 1-yard loss.

Brodrick Bunkley

It's fair to say that the Eagles' 2006 first-round draft pick is the worst of their four starting defensive linemen right now. That, however, is not meant as a knock on Bunkley. It's more a statement of how well the three others are playing.

Patterson, the other starting tackle, had a strong game. Bunkley, returning from a one-game absence because of a sprained knee ligament, was not nearly as noticeable.

Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson still sits Bunkley in obvious pass situations. He also rested him on three series by using veteran Kimo von Oelhoffen, who started the week before against Seattle.

Bunkley's only tackle came on a 5-yard gain by Brandon Jacobs in the second quarter, but he was disruptive in the backfield a few plays later, allowing Gaither to stop the running back for a short gain.

If Bunkley had reacted quicker, he could have had a sack of Eli Manning on a second-and-12 play during the Giants' only TD drive. The defensive tackle made a spin move off left tackle David Diehl, but didn't realize immediately that he was right next to Manning. That was just enough time for the quarterback to hit Amani Toomer for a 19-yard completion.