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Redskins @ Eagles – Fourth Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 4:35 pm

  • The second down goalline call – the complicated incomplete pass to Sellers – was met with some disapproval from the people next to me up here in the press box, some musing that maybe Zorn sometimes gets a little too clever in straightforward situations. The straightforward Clinton Portis run on the next play elicited immediate, sheepish apologies.
  • Chris Horton, again in the right place at the right time, makes a crucial stop on the kickoff. This stop combines with a penalty to start the Eagles seemingly where the Redskins want them. But it’s Horton’s first visibly negative play – the non-touch of Reggie Brown after his catch – that’s looming much larger in this drive.
  • Holding the Eagles to a field goal after second and one on the two is huge. Great stop by Khary Campbell, Andre Carter and just about everyone else on the field on that third down. Man, this team is fun to watch.
  • There was some debate in the press box about if they should’ve gone for two after that last Portis touchdown. At the time, I was opposed, but the math at this point (leading by six, where it would be seven if you made the two and five if you missed it) certainly seems compelling. I guess I need a refresher course in the two point conversion chart. Let’s hope it doesn’t come into play.
  • Something they really like in Philadelphia: Rocky. The Rocky clips on the video screens here start with the pregame, and continue right on through to crucial third down situations. I am already bored by them, but they certainly seem to make the fans here happy.
  • Going for a fourth down conversion there was one of the single gutsiest calls I’ve seen in recent memory. Faking the pass prior to the handoff just makes it moreso. That was completely impressive.
  • Less impressive? Eagles fans, quietly streaming out at the two minute warning. Yes, the game was over all but officially. Yes, their team blew a 14 point lead. Yes, I imagine this would be very demoralizing. But after everything I had heard, this was an incredibly anti-climactic display. I’m much more impressed with the die-hards who have stuck around down by the Redskins tunnel to boo the individual players as they run off. Maybe everyone else is outside throwing eggs at passing traffic.
  • That is an enormous win for the Redskins, and a bad loss for the Eagles. I realize I’m not breaking new ground with that insight, but it’s still true.

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Redskins @ Eagles – Third Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 3:34 pm

  • One other way this is similar to the Giants game: despite the feeling in the first quarter feeling that the Redskins were being dominated, they’re still very much in the game. Like the Giants game, the defense gave up one initial drive before strengthening, and the offensive started with a completely ineffective possesion.
  • For the halftime show, a local cover band performed as assortment of songs, including U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday and Coldplay’s Viva La Vida. Maybe it’s just me, but neither of those tunes really gets me fired up for the third quarter (and Sunday Bloody Sunday is, from a certain point of view, a potentially grim choice).
  • Down on the field for the first half of the third quarter, my head on a swivel as advised, although no one seemed particularly agressive toward me, or even toward the brave individual Redskins fans in the stands. In fact, the noise and energy level down on the field was notably less overwhelming than it was at FedExField a couple weeks ago. Some noises do stand out, though: Carlos Rogers’s arrival the same time as the ball on a third down Donovan McNabb pass sounds like a fastball hitting a catcher’s mitt, for example. And the sound of a good play (for the visiting team) on the sidelines is actually the clack-clack-clack of the photographers’ motor drives as they all try to get the perfect shot.
  • I was standing just about at the line of scrimmage on that Randle El touchdown pass to Cooley, and … I’ll be honest, I wasn’t at ALL sure that he was behind the line. Glad that the video disagreed with me.
  • Well, the offense certainly seems to be clicking now. At some point, their ability third-down conversions swung dramatically. Despite my initial comments, this no longer looks quite so much like the Giants game, but in a good way.

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Redskins @ Eagles – Second Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 2:34 pm

  • The eerie sense that some of the problems that plagued the team early on have returned is magnified as Carlos Rogers drops what looked like a sure interception, and the subsequent punt gets downed inside the five yard line. Spoooooky.
  • The running game is gaining five yards a carry; the passing game is still having some trouble clicking. This is demonstrated clearly as Jason Campbell is sacked for a loss of nine while I’m typing.
  • Devin Thomas makes a good move and a crucial third down catch on a nice timing route. Since their rookie wideout has a couple of catches and a punt return, it’s doubly good to see Thomas getting involved.
  • I mentioned during a previous game that the I no longer got the feeling that the Redskins were out of it as soon as they got behind, that there was a much stronger sense of resiliance about this team than there seemed to have been in recent years. Similarly, I’ve become much more comfortable when Shaun Shuisham comes in for a field goal, even a 48 yarder as here – and, again, he drives it through.
  • And, of course, as soon as I type that, Suisham puts a kick out of bounds at the worst possible time. You would think, after all these years of rooting for football games, I would know better than to do something like that.
  • The best thing about that drive wasn’t even the points, I don’t think – it was the eight-plus minutes of rest it got the defense. Okay, probably not MORE important than the points, almost as important.
  • Whether I’m right in my assessment of the defense’s rest levels or not, they manage to force Philadelphia into a three and out, making that out-of-bounds kickoff seem much less important.
  • I have never been as tense for a regular season, non-game-ending kick as I was for Suisham’s fifty yarder there, rereading my idiotically jinxy comments as he lined up to put it through. Seriously, remind me never to write anything like that again.

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Redskins @ Eagles – Eagles Fans Sort of Live Up To The Hype

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 2:15 pm

Yes, there were eggs. The bus ahead of me got hit – defensive coordinator Greg Blache reportedly didn’t even flinch when the window next to him got splattered – but the throws at my bus all missed. This was nice from a not-getting-hit-with-eggs perspective, but disappointing from a photo op perspective. (They were impressive throws, though: the buses were on an elevated highway, and the fans were tossing the eggs from the parking lot below with some serious velocity at a moving target.)

As promised, even the youngest of the fans helps to give the buses the finger as we drive by, whole families gathered to spend some pregame quality time flipping off a few vehicles.

And also as promised, the fans come prepared with very specific material to shout at the players during warmups. Chris Cooley, Rock Cartwright, and Colt Brennan were coming under fire as I walked by; they were doing their best to ignore it, but Chris Samuels gave back a little bit, shouting “Is this brotherly love?”

The most striking thing about the fans, though, wasn’t WHAT they were yelling, but how often they would repeat the exact same phrase, with minor alterations to syntax and word order. My notes from one guy’s taunts of Cooley:

“Hey, Cooley, keep your boxers on next time! Keep your boxers on, Cooley! Tell Cooley to keep his drawers on! Cooley! Boxers! Cooley, wear some pants! Hey, Cooley! You forgot your boxers!” And so on. At some point, it moved from menacing to annoying, and from there it was a short trip to amusing.

Just about everyone on the staff has warned me to be aware, keep my head on a swivel, pay attention, stay prepared, all that good stuff, and I certainly will. So far, though, the main danger seems to stem from having variations on the same phrase repeated at me until I get too bored to resist.

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Redskins @ Eagles – First Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 1:45 pm

  • Reed Doughty gets the start, at least technically, as the Redskins open in their three safety “Cobra” formation. It’s a nice compromise that makes everyone happy. Chris Horton looks good again, making an ankle tackle to stop a reverse to the incredibly fast DeSean Jackson.
  • The soundproofing in this press box is the most effective I’ve encountered since the Meadowlands (more effective, actually, since we’re closer to the field here), which makes it all the more impressive when the fans manage to overpower it. So far, that’s been for a replay of Rocky McIntosh defending a pass against L.J. Smith in the end zone (they seem to be of the opinion that he wasn’t actually looking at the ball), and for Brian Westbrook’s touchdown run. The Eagles certainly seemed to be doing whatever they wanted on that drive; it’ll be interesting to see what adjustments the Skins make.
  • The “Fly Eagles Fly” song sounds like it would play underneath the safety video at the start of an airplane flight.
  • A three-and-out for Washington followed by a punt return for a touchdown … not an auspicious start to this game, to say the least. This has much more of the feel of the Giants game than the three wins. Still plenty of time left, though.
  • “Fly Eagles Fly” does not improve with repetition. Just another reason I would like to not hear that song anymore.
  • The Redskins are having real trouble passing the ball, although the running game looks somewhat effective. Jason Campbell is getting knocked around solidly, and these look like the kind of hits that take their toll over the course of the game.
  • Giving up these third down conversions is disheartening; the Eagles went 4 for their first 4 on third down. A couple of nice tackles by London Fletcher and a missed pass by Donovan McNabb force the field goal attempt.
  • THAT, for the record, is what a missed field goal looks like. If the Skins can muster a drive after that, the momentum might start to swing a bit. It’s a quiet Redskins side of the press box right now, though – even quieter than usual.

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Redskins @ Eagles – First Impressions of the Linc

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 12:31 pm

Lincoln Financial Field is the nicest stadium I’ve traveled to so far. The previous contender was Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, but this is much more impressive. Not only is everything new, not only is the press box cafeteria stocked with local favorites (Tastykakes, pretzels, cannolis), but everything is labeled. Directions to the press box, directions to the field, the various locker rooms – even the Instant Replay Bike Rack is clearly and carefully marked.

I don’t have any particular use for the Instant Replay Bike Rack, but the people who do should have no problem identifying it. I do have use for the press box, as that’s where I’m currently sitting, and it’s nice to be able to locate it without too much wandering.

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Redskins @ Eagles – Inactives

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 12:01 pm

Having an assortment of technical difficulties as the moment, but the Lincoln Field staff is being great at working to resolve them, so hopefully we’ll be up and running shortly.

Redskins inactives:
5 QB Colt Brennan (emergency third QB)
24 CB Shawn Springs
32 S Justin Hamilton
53 LB Marcus Washington
55 DE Jason Taylor
74 OT Stephon Heyer
75 OL Chad Rinehart
98 DE Rob Jackson

Smoot starts in place of Springs, H.B. Blades in place of Washington, and Jon Jansen in place of Heyer.

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Sunday, October 5: Gameday, Redskins @ Eagles – A Flashback

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2008 – 8:29 am

After we got to Philadelphia yesterday, I walked over to Reading Terminal Market – not to plumb the mind of the average Philly fan, not to see what the read the buzz on the streets of the city, nothing like that at all. I just went because I was hungry, and I had heard that the Market had a bunch of different food options, and was a pretty neat place to boot. Both of these things turned out to be true, and I got to hear a whole bunch of conversations about today’s game as a special bonus.

Most of the chatter revolved around the fact that the Redskins were apparently staying in a nearby hotel (true), and that their buses had blocked traffic when they arrived (true), and that this somehow reflected some level of contempt for the average Philadelphian and his need to commute (emphatically not true). I overheard a rumor that one of the Redskins coaches had said in the elevator that they had brought body bags for the Eagles. (I cannot verify this, of course, but I can’t imagine any of our coaches doing that in this situation, and I have a suspicion that this person was muddling an eighteen year old story.) A few people opined on the differences between FedExField and RFK Stadium, which seemed irrelevant to today’s game in Philly, but was still amusing to hear.

The most interesting thing I heard, though, was a story I had never heard before. A woman waiting in line for a cheesesteak at Rick’s held forth on the game between the Redskins and Eagles on December 7, 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and I found myself scribbling down notes as she talked.

According to her rendition, the game started before the attack. Fans in the stands and players on the field were unaware that the bombing had happened, the game went on as planned, and the Redskins went into the half with a large lead. At halftime, though, the teams were notified of the attack, and many players were called to active duty on the spot, including both the first and second string quarterbacks for Washington. As a result, the Eagles rallied to win behind an enormous second half.

This, I thought, was a terrific story, and it certainly put the lie to my idea that the Eagles/Redskins rivalry was only about the fans. In fact, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard this story before, so I headed back to my hotel room to look it up.

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