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Phil Sheridan: Eagles’ loss to Vikings is a snowjob

There will be no Joe Webb in the postseason. There will be no Stephen McGee, either.

There will be no Joe Webb in the postseason. There will be no Stephen McGee, either.

The Eagles will face a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers or Eli Manning in the first round of the playoffs. Judging by the way they looked Tuesday night against Webb, a sixth-round pick making his first NFL start, that will be the only QB they face in the playoffs.

A week after their New Meadowlands miracle, the Eagles were merely miserable.

They have no one to blame but themselves for this one. The postponement of Sunday's game had a much more significant impact on the Vikings, who were stuck in the wrong time zone for two extra nights at the height of the holiday season. They are a team that has been in breathtaking freefall since losing the NFC championship game last January.

Strange, then, that it was the Eagles who hit bottom. In a must-win home game against a flatlining opponent, they failed to show up with anything resembling the kind of intensity or even competence required to win in the postseason.

It starts with the head coach, as Andy Reid likes to say. That is more than boilerplate this time around. The Eagles came out being too cute by half - a shovel pass to DeSean Jackson, really? - against a team they should have been able to dispatch without resorting to such chicanery.

Worse, though, was the inability to stop the slide and turn the game around. It is characteristic of Reid's teams that they get stronger in December, winning their way into postseason form.

Last year, it was a shocker when the Eagles were routed in their final regular-season game in Dallas. And that shock was followed by the franchise-altering aftershock of another ugly loss a week later.

Reid reacted to that late-season pratfall by dumping Donovan McNabb and retooling the defense. A year later, his reconstituted Eagles blew their chance at a bye week by getting spanked on national television by a dead football team. There isn't time to do much except prepare for Sunday's short-week game against the Cowboys, another dead team that may have to start McGee at quarterback.

That game won't matter, really. Not after this one. The Eagles will be the No. 3 seed in the NFC. They will host a home game against one of the wild card teams: Green Bay, Tampa Bay, even those freshly embarrassed Giants are possibilities.

Any of those teams would have destroyed the Eagles who showed up for Week 161/2.

The defense was abysmal. With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, the Eagles forced Webb into a third-and-10 situation. With receiver Sidney Rice sideline by injury and with Adrian Peterson banged up, Webb completed a 19-yard pass to Percy Harvin. After Peterson ran the ball around left end and inside the Eagles' 5-yard line, the defense had a chance to make a stand, force a field goal and keep the deficit at 6 points.

Instead, the Eagles lined up with 12 men on the field.


But we already knew the defense is the weak link on this team. It is Michael Vick and that magical, mystery offense that got the Eagles to a division title. It was Vick and the offense that would have to carry this team in the postseason, as well.

Instead, Vick was as careless throwing the ball as he was carrying it. He threw at least three interceptions (although the Vikings were able to hang on to just one) and fumbled the ball away twice. Just as alarming, the Vikings' relentless pressure had Vick looking flustered and making terrible decisions.

There was no sign of the cool operator who engineered that incredible comeback against the Giants last week. In fact, Vick looked for all four quarters like the vulnerable and physically wornout guy who played three-and-a-half quarters against the Giants.

The Packers and Giants and Buccaneers all have defenses capable of putting Vick through similar torment. And all of their defensive coordinators will have a week to study what former Reid assistant Leslie Frazier threw at the Eagles Tuesday night.

For now, it is too depressing to think of what Rodgers or Manning will be able to do against this Eagles defense.

It was all set up so nicely for the Eagles. The Giants lost in Green Bay Sunday, giving them the division. Their final two opponents, which looked so dangerous when the schedule came out, proved to be the two most disappointing teams in the NFC. Win two winnable games, get a little help, and the Eagles essentially could have won a first-round playoff game, minus the physical pounding.

The Vikings proved to be dangerous, after all. A week after exciting their fans with that big miracle, the Eagles' Super Bowl aspirations looked like little more than a snowjob.