Eagles Are Officially Hot
Not to act like the great soothsayer, but exactly what happened in last Sunday's game were my keys to a victory. The Eagles needed to hold Brandon Jacobs under 90 yards and stop the run in general. They did that, and not having Plaxico Burress to worry about helped. Secondly, the Eagles avoided turnovers. They were very efficient, and the running game was back. A healthy Brian Westbrook made a big, big difference. The Eagles played a tremendous game and they deserve all the credit in the world, especially after the blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. They dominated the Giants for that entire half, and after that I had some scary thoughts. All of a sudden, it was a three-point game and I thought the momentum would go right to the Giants. But they took the second-half kickoff and drove right down the field, controlling the clock in the process. It was a total whipping they put on the Giants.
In short, we can say it now. The Eagles are officially hot. After dominating on the coldest of days, they are officially hot. Now, a lot of people, myself included, looked at the Arizona win as a big positive but didn't see Arizona as a prime-time team – a decent team in a weak division. But now, I think we can see that Arizona is a pretty good team. The Eagles just played a flawless game and carried the momentum over to beat the best team in football. Yes, the Eagles are hot. Absolutely.
Now, the Eagles have to pretend on Monday that the Cleveland Browns are the Pittsburgh Steelers. They need to play like it's the Super Bowl. That's the way they need to play every game at this point. There is no margin for error. The players can't say, "Well, we'll dispose of Cleveland and then we'll have a tough game at Washington." No. Forget Washington, forget Dallas. Concentrate on beating the Browns and take them seriously. You cannot let Cleveland get into that fourth quarter with a chance to win that game by any means. You have to flatten them early.
Donovan McNabb and Westbrook have had really up-and-down seasons, but this is what you want. You want them hot going down the stretch. Buddy Ryan used to say that the teams that win are the teams that play well when the snow flurries fly. And they did at the Meadowlands. McNabb went through his slump, and he struggled particularly early in games. But he came out of it at just the right time. I think Westbrook was really banged up. It looks like the Eagles should have been running the ball like this all along, but I honestly don't think they had that capability. Look at Washington right now. They're trying to figure out what's wrong after such a great start. It's not Jim Zorn, it's not Jason Campbell. The difference right now is that they don't have a healthy Clinton Portis. He's bruised, beaten, battered. There is little he can do out there. His injury is having the same effect on the Redskins right now as Westbrook's had on the Eagles earlier.
McNabb, though, has been terrific. The way he threw in that wind was remarkable. Sure, he bounced a couple of balls. But in all, he did what he needed to do. He avoided turnovers, was on target for the most part, he got rid of the ball when he needed to, he ran when he found an opening. He's been perfect these last two games. And overall, really, he's had a good season. He had a bad slump in the middle, but he seems to be fine right now, and that's what counts.
I am legitimately excited. I think the fans should expect this to keep going. I really do. But no one can get carried away with talking about the Cowboys yet. Anything can happen any week. You don't know what's going to happen, you don't know who could get hurt. You lose No. 36 again, and that changes everything. You can lose a key performer. It has to be looked at week-by-week. But right now, everything seems to be unfurling in the Eagles' direction.