THIS JUST IN: Andy Reid is stubborn.
Big Red wasn't giving an inch yesterday on the run-pass business. The Eagles ran the ball so much (38 called runs vs. 34 called passes) at the Meadowlands because the wind was howling. Learn a valuable lesson about sticking with the ground game? Whatever could you be talking about?
It was just Friday a week ago that Reid tried to explain his philosophy of "efficient balance,'' in which he posited that he wasn't going to bang his head against the wall running the ball if the run wasn't working. Then Reid sheepishly agreed with a questioner that he had no such qualms about sticking with the pass when it wasn't working.
So Sunday at the Giants, the Eagles gained minus-5 yards on their first eight called runs. What did they do then? They kept running, and eventually Brian Westbrook broke a 30-yarder for a touchdown against a safety blitz.
Afterward, Westbrook seemed to understand that something rare had occurred, even if Reid did not.
"He was very committed to it, and I give a lot of credit to him because usually we're not that committed to it," Westbrook said after Sunday's game. "He saw that we were getting it done. We always try to tell him 2 or 3 yards is not that bad, and we had a couple carries where it was just 2 or 3 yards, but he stayed committed to it, and sooner or later that turned into 5 or 6 yards, then we had the big run down the middle.''
This was not exactly Reid's perspective, a day later - that he'd been talked into doing anything out of the ordinary.
"I wouldn't say I was beating my head against the wall. I thought we ran the ball pretty good,'' Reid said. "Beating the head against the ball is when
you're gaining 1 yard per carry. When you're gaining like we were [Sunday], I'm good with that."
But, see, you weren't gaining . . . that is, until, well . . . oh, just never mind.
So, run-starved fans should pray for wind the rest of the way?
"I think the fans really just want to win,'' Reid said. "They don't really care if we throw it or run it, they just want to see W's."
Gee, from the gist of our e-mails, we could have sworn they were a bit more discerning than that. Guess not.
You know, theoretically, you could station somebody behind the kicker as a sort of safety, on a field-goal try on the final play of the first half. No rule against it. It would mean you wouldn't be able to block everybody up front, but since the Eagles aren't doing that anyway, they might as well concentrate on not giving up a touchdown.
Has any team other than the Birds ever had two field goals blocked for touchdowns on the final play of the first half in a season? And won both games?
The problem was in the same area of the line Sunday as it was on Oct. 12 in San Francisco, even though the personnel alignment was slightly different. Justin Tuck penetrated to the right of long snapper Jon Dorenbos, just as Ray McDonald did 2months earlier. Tuck, like McDonald, was wearing No. 91. In San Francisco, Max Jean-Gilles whiffed on the block. This time, Winston Justice — whatever could go wrong with playing Winston Justice at the Meadowlands? — was subbing for Jean-Gilles, out for the season after breaking his ankle. Tuck powered inside Justice, who grabbed him to no avail.
In both cases, a defensive back scooped and scored — Donald Strickland in San Francisco, Kevin Dockery at the Meadowlands.
At San Francisco, David Akers was trying a 54-yarder; Strickland was gone from the moment he picked up the ball, traveling only 41 yards with it. Dockery's jaunt was more painful to watch from an Eagles perspective.
Dockery went 71 yards, and Todd Herremans overtook him right after he picked up the ball. But Herremans, showing why he doesn't play both ways, elected to try to grab Dockery's shoulders instead of his legs, and the d-back squirted away. The rest of the Eagles didn't do that great a job of giving chase, in light of the fact that had anybody managed to trip up Dockery, even at the Eagles' 1, the half would have ended with no damage. *
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