Penn State didn’t pick up steam until the fourth quarter, struggling through the first three quarters for a 13-13 tie with Northwestern, then scoring three times in the final period to win the game 34-13. At the same time, Iowa was maintaining their perfect season after struggling through three quarters against Indiana by scoring 28 in their final frame to win 42-24.
Penn State with that one loss against Iowa is looking better and better, but Iowa is looking like the team from the Big Ten that deserves the shot at a potential national championship. Until the start of the fourth quarters respectively, Iowa looked horrible, with 5 turnovers versus 2 touchdowns, and Penn State looked sluggish with only 1 drive over 30 yards in the first half and a 10-13 halftime deficit, then redeemed themselves with 3 scores in a 5 minutes period of the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Next week Penn State plays Ohio State and the following week Iowa does. If Penn State wins, and Iowa loses, it is anybodys guess how the final poll will play out. Right now the strength of schedule and talent levels on these two teams indicate that Iowa should win the Big Ten and go to a major bowl, and Penn State will likely go to another Rose Bowl.
Joe Paterno and his team have nothing to be ashamed of. They do need to get the monkey off their back and beat Iowa if they want to get attention in the BCS at a national level and be considered a top 5 team. For now, they are a solid top ten team. And getting their 808th team win places them at 6th all time, which ain’t too shabby.
Pivotal Game 3 has arrived.
To say that Cole Hamels has been a disappointment this season would be an understatement. Coming off of a postseason where he was the NLCS and World Series MVP, big things were expected of the young left-hander. Those expectations were never met as Hamels went 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA. He consistently gave up big home runs and never quite found a rhythm. Even upon the Phillies’ return to the postseason, Hamels could not find his 2008 magic.
If he can find it tonight, all of those aforementioned stats will be forgotten.
Hamels takes the hill tonight as the Phillies host the Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series.
Opposing Hamels will be postseason veteran Andy Pettitte. With the series tied at 1-1, there are big impactions on tonight’s contest. If the Yankees win they will have the series lead with their ace C.C. Sabathia set to face Joe Blanton in Game 4, a matchup the Yanks undoubtedly feel good about. Meanwhile, if the Phillies win they will go into Game 4 with a load of confidence knowing that Cliff Lee will be waiting in Game 5 to close things out if they can find away past Sabathia.
Playing a part in the atmosphere will be the weather as showers are expected throughout the evening. The rain will certainly not quiet the Phils’ faithful who have helped the team to the point of dropping just one home postseason game in two years.
Pitching matchup: Andy Pettitte is 2-0 this postseason with a 2.37 ERA. In 11 lifetime World Series appearances, he is 3-4 with a 3.82 ERA. You know Pettitte will be relaxed as this is nothing new for him. As is the case with most veteran pitchers, the Phillies would be wise to get to them early as he has the capability to shut teams down if he gets a lead and a favorable strike zone.
Hamels has been ineffective so far in the playoffs, going 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA. Giving up the long-ball has been a problem and could be again tonight against a dangerous lineup. Charlie Manuel said they talked about using the curveball more, so we will see if that factors in his outing.
Game Time: 8:07
The Sixers got their first win of the season Friday night, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks, 99-86, in their home-opener.
The Sixers recovered from a season-opening loss to the Magic to even their record at 1-1.
Though the sample size is just two games I think what we have seen out of the Sixers so far is what we can expect to see the rest of the way. Philly will do well when matchup up with the average-to-bottom teams that the Eastern Conference puts out but struggle against the top tier teams.
They don’t have enough talent to beat teams like the Magic, Cavs or Celtics, but have more than enough to take down squads like the Bucks, Nets and Bobcats.
It is kind of the way the Sixers have been since Allen Iverson was in town.
New head coach Eddie Jordan promised to implement a Princeton-style offense and the early results are indicating that the players re buying into it. The Princeton offense is one that spreads the ball around and tries to find the open man through a series of cuts and screens. Take a look at the scoring averages through two games and you can see that there is plenty of diversity.
Lou Williams 17.0
Marreese Speights 15.0
Andre Iguodala 13.0
Elton Brand 12.5
Jason Kapono 11.5
Thaddeus Young 10.5
Rodney Carney 10.0
Samuel Dalmbert 9.5
While I am not sure the Sixers will finish the season with six or seven guys in double figures, I do expect the balance to remain close to the same. That is the type of team Jordan wants. It won’t lead to many All-Stars, but it should lead to a playoff berth.
The Sixers should get their second-straight win tonight, when they travel to take on the New York Knicks.
Even in basketball it is a Philly-New York weekend.
Joe Blanton will get another chance to crack a home run in the World Series.
More importantly, he will get a chance to pitch the Phillies past the Yankees in Game 4, on Sunday. Manager Charlie Manuel announced today that Blanton will get the call, instead of using Cliff Lee on three days’ rest. Lee will pitch Game 5.
Manuel said that he did not think Lee would be ready on three days’ rest and that he did not want to push him. He also said that he will use J.A. Happ exclusively out of the bullpen the rest of the way.
Blanton started Game 4 against the Rays last year, combining a strong pitching performance with a clutch home run in what became a 10-2 Phillies win. It gave the Phillies a 3-1 series lead. Fans can only hope for some déjà vu.
Cole Hamels will start game 3 on Saturday and will be opposed by veteran Andy Pettitte.
So what do you think: Is Charlie making the right move by going with a rested Joe Blanton over Lee on short rest?
It has been well-documented how bad the umpires have been during this baseball postseason.
Thursday night just added to it.
The umpires blew two more calls last night, one going against the Yankees and another going against the Phillies.
In this case, two wrongs don’t make a right.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has a great column on the bad calls in the game, as well as in the postseason, as a whole. It can be read here: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=jp-umps103009&prov=yhoo&type=lgns
The two calls in question were the line-drive that Howard one-hopped and a double play call on Chase Utley. On the line-drive the umpire ruled that Howard had caught the ball before it bounced, and Howard soon turned it into a double play, killing a potential Yankees’ rally. Replays showed that the balled was caught by Howard only after it hit the ground. He later admitted so.
Then, in the bottom of the eighth with two on and one out, Chase Utley hit a grounder that was turned into a double play. Replays showed that Utley was safe, but instead the inning was over and Ryan Howard did not get to come to the plate with runners on the corners.
There is no way of knowing how the game would have ended if both calls were made correctly. In the end, it might not have made a difference, but that doesn’t excuse the first-base umpire for making two bad calls.
Baseball is too stubborn to expand the use of replays for anything more than home runs, but it really needs too. Listen, the umpires are right over 95 percent of the time. Let replay make up for the other five percent.
I know it will make games longer, but it also makes them more honest. As Passan explains, the call against Utley took us away from seeing great slugger Ryan Howard face great closer Mariano Rivera with runners on first and third. That is a dream matchup from both sides – and we missed it.
I don’t blame the ups. In real time those plays are just too close to call. I blame the Major league baseball for not helping correct this. Replay must be expanded.
The games are already going over three hours; what’s another 10 minutes?
Pedro Martinez gave the Phillies a valiant effort Thursday night but the Philadelphia bats went silent against A.J. Burnett, as the New York Yankees took Game 2, 3-1, to tie the World Series, 1-1.
A couple of solo home runs proved to be enough for New York thanks to seven strong innings from Burnett, who had his curveball going, and a two-inning save from Mariano Rivera.
Now the series shifts to Philadelphia where Cole Hamels will get the ball for Game 3 against postseason veteran Andy Pettitte, on Saturday night.
While taking both games in New York would have been a huge boost for the Phillies, a spilt is more-than acceptable. The Phillies have proven that they are a great home team in the postseason, dropping just one home game the last two years. While taking all three games at home will be tough, the Phillies showed against the Dodgers in the NLCS and the Rays in the 2008 World Series that it can be done.
Rest assured that the Philly faithful will be pumped up and bring much more energy than the New York crowd could muter up in two games.
I have never been a Joe Buck fan, but I had to chuckle last night when he said after a Mark Teixeira home run, “At 9:04 the Yankees fans have shown up.”
You can bet that won’t be the case in Philadelphia.
The bigger question will be if Hamels shows up. The Phils need Hamels to find last season’s form and deliver them a big victory. We know he has it in him and now we need to see it.
When the Phillies signed pitcher Pedro Martinez late in the regular season it was with hopes hat he could provide them with a little bit more than Jamie Moyer was giving them.
Now, they are asking for more; A lot more.
Pedro will take the mound tonight at Yankees Stadium with the task of giving the Phillies a commanding 2-0 lead in the World Series.
Pedro’s best game against the Yankees came in September of 1999 when he pitched a complete-game one-hitter in a 3-1 Red Sox win. He struck out 17.
The Phillies can’t ask for that tonight can they?
Well, probably not, but given Pedro’s flair for the dramatic the Phillies can expect a solid performance that will keep them in the game.
The atmosphere will no doubt be intense tonight at Yankees Stadium. Last night you could hear a pin drop, but that was only because Cliff Lee was that good. Even if Pedro is on his game, the fans will be on him, surely bringing back the “Who’s your Daddy” chants.
The best thing for Martinez was what Lee gave him by pitching a gem last night – a sense of freeness on the mound. By winning Game 1, the Phillies shifted all of the pressure on the Yankees. Lose Game 2 ad the Yankees are finished.
That is the pressure quality, but erratic, Yankees starter A.J. Burnett faces. It is only Game 2 and it is already a must-win for the Bronx Bombers. This is Burnett’s first start in a World Series game and he has an entire team and city on his back.
Burnett against the Phillies: Between his time in Florida and interleague matchups while with Toronto Burnett has faced the Phillies quite a few times and the Phillies hitters have gotten the better of him. Burnett is 5-8 lifetime with a 4.85 ERA in 16 starts. One of those starts came on May 22, when he was shelled for five runs in six innings in a Phillies win.
Pedro vs. A-Rod: In 55 at-bats against Pedro A-Rod has just one home run. He also has 19 strikeouts.
Game time: 8:07, FOX
Eagles running back Brian Westbrook will be a game-time decision for Sunday’s contest against the New York Giants, announced had coach Andy Reid on Wednesday.
Westbrook has not practiced all week after a head injury knocked him out of the Eagles 27-17 win over the Redskins on Monday Night Football.
The Eagles head trainer sad that Westbrook’s eyes cleared up soon after the play that knocked him out and that he remembers everything that happened. Right now he is still dealing with headaches, though.
If Westbrook can not go it will be LeSean McCoy that gets the start.
I think the Eagles should and will use caution on this one and give Westbrook the week off. The NFL is already taking heat from congress about concussions and other head injuries NFL players have suffered and the league, so you can bet the league will pressure teams to chose the safe-side of things.’
I think many fans would also be a little excited over the thought of McCoy starting against the Giants. The first-year back out of Pitt had an impressive preseason and has played well in spurts when Westbrook has been out. In his lone start against Kansas City, McCoy rushed for 84 yards on 20 touches with a touchdown
Facing a tough Giants defense, McCoy could make a big statement that he is in fact the Eagles future at the position.
DEPTH: The Eagles signed running back P.J. Hill off the Saints practice squad on Wednesday. Hill was signed by the Saints as a rookie free agent out of Wisconsin. He scored three touchdowns and had 128 yards on 26 touches in the preseason.
Wow. How was that for a game one folks ? I have waxed rhapsodic about Cliff Lee since the trade. Even tolerated his brief slump after a 5-0 start with the Phitens where he looked mortal. He reverted to previous form last night and absolutely dispatched with extreme prejudice a Yankees team that is a lot better than he made them look.
He did a couple things that will stay with you as well, not just Phillies fans, but all of those who watched this game. In 54 minutes on the mound, he threw 122 pitches and lowered his career postseason ERA to .54 as he threw a complete game win. He allowed no earned runs or walks, and struck out ten. That has never been done in the World Series. He was in charge of the pace spending less than 20 seconds between pitches and sprinting to and from the mound as he has done all season.
He nonchalantly fielded a pop up to the mound, barely moving or lifting his glove to do so. He fielded a ground chopper in front of the plate and made the glove tag to the rear end of the Yankee baserunner for an out. He fielded a comebacker behind the back and threw to first for the out. He was WAY cool.
Take Derek Jeter out of the box score and he allowed three hits, no runs, 2 of them bloop singles, and struck out 10 allowing the remaining Yankees to hit .098. He is now 3-0 this postseason and the obvious choice for MVP. He should get MUP as well, Most Unflappable Pitcher, as he acted like nothing that happened out there on the mound bothered him. When JRoll overthrew first after planting on the wrong foot and allowed a run and lost the shutout, instead of getting the double play, instead of throwing up his arms, as Hamels did earlier, Lee stifled a yawn, then proceeded to dispatch the next two Yankees and do his customary sprint from the mound.
I would rank this in the top three pitching performances in the World Series in my lifetime, and probably in the top ten of all time. Meanwhile, the Phillies got the job done at the plate. Utley nailed two solo homeruns, Howard, Victorino and Ibanez all contributed RBI hits to give Cliff some breathing room which he SO did not need ! CC Sabathia pitched a decent game and never had a chance to win. Even the umpires brought their A game, conferring on a double play ball to make sure they got the call right.
Now it is time for “Who’s your daddy Martinez” to come in and try to follow up his 7+ innings of shutout postseason pitching with a similar performance in tonight’s game. Home field has already switched to Philadelphia with the game one victory. A lot has also been made of the fact that 11 of the past 12 game one winners have gone on to win the World Series. The Phillies are on a 17-4 postseason tear in 2008 and 2009, the best 2 year postseason winning percentage in the National League EVER. Utley has reached base in 26 straight post season games, the best streak EVER, Howard has had an RBI in all but 2 postseason games in the last two years, the most consistent run producer EVER, Cliff Lee has a .54 postseason ERA, the best EVER for a pitcher with three or more decisions, and the Phillies are poised to be the first National League team to win back to back World Series since 1975 by beating the team that has the most WS wins, EVER !!
I am thinking it might be time to believe. The 6-1 game I watched last night leaves no doubt in my mind, that these Phillies are for real, and are not going to be beat at this stage of the postseason, with momentum and history and intangibles and home field advantage now all on their side. Come on game 2, I can’t wait to see how these guys follow up last night’s performance, but I bet it is going to be good !
The wait is finally over, Game 1 of the World Series have arrived.
While many analysts have predicted this to be a long and close series, history tells us that the winner may just be decided tonight.
In the last 12 years, teams which won Game 1, won the series 11 times, including the last six. That means there is a lot of pressure on Cliff Lee and the rest of the Phillies tonight at Yankee Stadium.
Weather update: The rain stopped in New York around 3:30 and it looks like it should be clearing out for good, minus a few small showers, according to weather reports.
Pitching matchup: Cliff Lee vs. C.C. Sabathia. This is a battle of the last two AL Cy Young award winners.
Sabathia, who signed a $160 million deal, won 19 games in the regular season. He has been even better in the postseason, going 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA with 20 strikeouts in three games. Cliff Lee has been equally as dominant in the playoffs, going 2-0 with an 0.74 ERA in three starts.
Game Time: 7:57, on FOX.
It’s time Phillies fans!
It is not often a season-opener goes unnoticed, but that’s exactly what is happening for the Sixers as they prepare for the start of the season today.
With the Phillies set to face the Yankees tonight, basketball is set deeply in the background Philly fans. There is also the notion that the Sixers will be nothing more than mediocre this season. The Phillies are a series away from bringing the city another championship, the Eagles are in the thick of things in the NFC East and the Flyers are one of the favorites to win the Cup. No one is picking the Sixers to go anywhere.
That wasn’t the case last year when many pendants predicted the Sixers to be a top four team in the Eastern Conference. But the Sixers struggled to fit Elton Brand into their offense, playing much of the season bellow .500. An injury erased the second half of Brands season and the Sixers actually got better during that time, grabbing the sixth playoff spot in a top-heavy Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia returns mostly the same team, minus point guard Andre Miller. Lou Williams will slide into a starting role with Andre Iguodala starting as the team’s shooting guard. Third year player Thaddeus Young will team with Brand in the front-court, with Samuel Dalembert. The bench is also solid with outside threat Jason Kapono expected go get big minutes and Willie Green, Rodney Carney and Marreesse Speights resuming the roles their same roles from last year.
The Sixers are still a young team and taking with another year of experience under the players’ belts the team should finish a little better than their 41-41 mark last season.
The problem is, then what? Likely the Sixers make the playoffs and get knocked out by the Celtics, Magic, or Cavaliers.
The NBA has become a star-driven league and the Sixers don’t have stars. They have good players, not great. Iguodala is the leader of the team and he has never been an All-Star.
This team could be fun to watch this year, but they hardly have the chance to captivate the city like the other three major sports teams can.
The Sixers will be mediocre – and they have been there for too long.
If someone had told you at the All-Star break that the Phillies would be in the World Series with Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez pitching games one and two, what would your reaction have been?
Likely a little confused.
However the Phillies two big late-season pickups will be doing exactly that as Charlie Manuel announced that Pedro will get the ball in Game 2 on Thursday.
“To have 60,000 people looking at one guy to deliver that ball and all of them chanting ‘Pay-dro! Pay-dro!’ is a great honor,” Martinez recently said in an interview with The Associated Press. “To pitch at Yankee Stadium on one of the greatest stages to play on, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
It is a feeling he knows well.
The Yankees have had some success in the past against Pedro. Frustrated at one point in his Boston career, Pedro called the Yankees “his daddy” in an infamous postgame interview.
That is hardly the case though. Martinez went 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA against the Yankees in the old stadium. The bad news is that Pedro has never one a playoff game in New York, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA.
We also know that this is not the same Pedro that pitched for the Red Sox five years ago. Then again, this is the same Pedro that pitched seven brilliant shutout innings against the Dodgers in Game 2, only to see the bullpen cough up a victory.
Most importantly we know that Pedro will not be intimidated — by anyone. That means those 60,000 fans can shout as loud as they want and taunt him merciless and it won’t bother him. Martinez is a true competitor. He lives for game’s like he will get Thursday.
If you need any more insurance that Pedro is the right guy to march into Yankee Stadium and deliver a victory just look back to this quote he issued in 2001 after beating the Yankees in a regular season game.
“I don’t believe in rivalries. I don’t believe in curses. Wake up the damn Bambino, maybe I’ll drill him in the (behind).”
Oh yes, Pedro will be ready.
We are now just one day away fro Game 1 of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. There promises to be plenty of drama as these two teams face off in the World Series for the first time in 50 years.
Bellow is a breakdown of how the teams match up position-by-position.
First Base: This would be the marquee position with two players who are not only of All-Star caliber, but MVP worthy. Ryan Howard has been a monster year after year, producing 40-plus home runs and 140 RBIs a season. His defense has improved and he defines the word clutch. Most people credit Jimmy Rollins for being the engine of the team but it became clear this season that the Phillies would go as far as Howard takes them.
On the other side, Mark Teixeira has been as good as advertised. The Yankees paid him big money in the offseason and he delivered with 39 homers and 122 RBIs. He has also delivered Gold Glove play at first base. Howard’s knack for getting the big hit gives him a slight edge on offense, but Teixeira seems to save a run a game with his glove, making this a toss up.
Second base: Robinson Cano has developed into the type of players that could be a cornerstone for the Yankees for many years. He hits for average (.320) and power (25 home runs).
Chase Utley also had a strong regular season, though his average dipped to .282. Something just doesn’t seem quite right with his swing right now and he only has two RBIs in the postseason. Utley may just be the hardest-working player in baseball and if there is something wrong there is a good chance he will fix it.
Verdict: Slight edge Yankees
Shortstop: This was nowhere near Jimmy Rollins’ best year, but his second-half was certainly acceptable. Rollins is hitting just .244 in the postseason, but it was his two-run double in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS that all-but finished off the Dodgers.
Meanwhile Derek Jeter is having a career year, which is saying something given his track record. He hit .334 during the regular season and his playoff performances in the past have been well-documented. If Rollins was having a typical year this would be a tough call. Since he has struggled, the check mark has to go to the Yankees’ captain.
Verdict: Edge Yankees
Third base: Alex Rodriguez finally learned how to hit in the postseason. Like Howard, A-Rod has been an RBI machine with 12 and is hitting .438. Clearly he is making up for lost time.
Pedro Feliz has been a great defensive presence throughout his career and even with his age creeping up continues to play the position well. Offensively Feliz is not a big cog, but had a three-run homer against the Dodgers in the NLCS and has given the lineup great depth.
He’s just not A-Rod.
Verdict: Edge Yankees.
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz or “Chooch” has been a monster this postseason, both behind the plate and as a hitter. Ruiz is hitting .346 and has driven in seven from the eight-hole. His pitchers love throwing to him and he has become one of the best in the league when it comes to throwing out base stealers.
Jorge Posada is not the player he once was. He still had good numbers with 22 homers and a .285 average, but his shortcomings defensively have led to the Yankees using Jose Molina more than anticipated. In fact, the Phillies will likely see Molina in games that A.J. Burnett pitches.
Verdict: Edge Phillies.
Left Field: The Phillies could not have asked for more than what Raul Ibanez gave them this season. He was an NL MVP candidate the first half of the year and hit a career-high 34 home runs. Even at 33, his defense is not a shortcoming. “Rauuuul” instantly became a fan favorite and remains one.
The Yankees counter with Johnny Damon who can still swing the stick, but has nothing in terms of an arm in the outfield. He is a liability out there and is usually replaced in the late innings.
Note: Ben Fransisco will star in left field on the road and Ibanez will DH. We still list Ibanez as the left fielder because he will play there during the home games.
Verdict: Edge Phillies
Center field: Shane Victorino made the first of what is likely to be many All-Star game appearances this season. He led the team in several offensive categories, including hits (181), average .292 and steals 25. He also provided Gold Glove defense. Last season he introduced himself to all of baseball. This year he announced that he isn’t going anywhere.
Melky Cabrera didn’t quite meet the expectations he ha set for himself with a big 2008 season, but still hit a respectable .274 and is an outstanding defender. Cabrera has good speed, but can not compete with Victorino in that department. In fact, there is not one part of his game that is clearly superior to Victorino’s.
Verdict: Edge Phillies
Right field: What a player Jayson Werth has become. Finally healthy, Werth had a huge season and has kept it up in the postseason. Werth is the team-leader in home runs during the playoffs, knocking five out of the park. He is making opposing pitchers pay for pitching around Howard.
Few people would have predicted that Nick Swisher would be starting for the Yankees in the playoffs when the season started. Xavier Nady was the opening day starter but an injury erased his season after seven games. Swisher stepped in and stepped up. He is not the player Werth is, but the pop in his bat still makes him a threat.
Verdict: Edge Phillies
Designated hitter: Ben Fransisco is the extra bat added during games in New York. Seen as a throw-in in the Cliff Lee trade, Fransisco has been solid in limited action. He hit .278 on the year and is 0-for-4 in the playoffs. Matt Stairs could also see a game in this role with Ibanez playing left.
Hideki Matsui is on the south-side of his career, but can still come up with the big hit. He hits lefties and righties about the same and finished with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs.
Verdict: Edge Yankees.
There you have it, a pretty even matchup on paper. The Yankees get the edge of the infield, mostly due to A-Rod at third, while the rest of the infielders are pretty similar. The Phillies get a big edge in the outfield in both fielding and hitting. There is a reason all three players were All-Stars.
Check back later for the breakdown of the pitching matchups.
Q: What is the difference between a New York Yankees fan and a New York Rangers fan?
A: The type of stick he has up his @ss!
Q: Why should you never run over a Yankee fan on a bicycle?
A: Chances are it your bike!
Q: What did the Yankees fan use for birth control?
A: His personality!
Q: How do you make a Yankee fan laugh on Monday?
A: Tell him a joke on Friday!
Albert Einstein is at a party and asks one of the guests, “What is your IQ”
“Great, we can talk about nuclear physics and cosmology”
After a few minutes of lively discourse, another party guest tries to get in on the conversation.
Einstein asks him, “What is your IQ”
To which Einstein replies: “GO YANKEES!”
The Eagles started their first MNF appearance of the season with a bang. It came in the form of DeSean Jackson running virtually untouched for a 66 yard end around touchdown and 7-0 lead on the opening drive. On Saturday I would have guessed this would be a close game but by gametime 8:42 EST Monday night it was obvious the Eagles had arrived in our nations capital with something to prove.
It seemed evident that Reid heard the criticisms as he came out running, with Westbrook, McCoy and Weaver all seeing action early. Eagles fans held their collective breath when Westbrook went down early after a short gain.
Will Weatherspoon, playing in his first game after coming over from the St Louis Rams, picked off a tipped pass by Quinten Michel at the end of the first quarter and scored to make it 14-0. On the Redskins next offensive possession the 2 defenders traded roles, with Weatherspoon stripping the ball and Michel recovering the fumble to give the Eagles offense the ball in Redskins territory. That turnover led to an Akers field goal and a 17-0 Philadelphia lead.
The Redskins scored toward halftime, with quite a bit of help from the Eagles who committed 2 major penalties to help sustain the drive. Then the Redskins forced the Eagles into a three and out and at 17-7 it seemed as if momentum had changed. Then Antoine Randel El muffed the punt and the Eagles scored a quick field goal without gaining any offensive yards at all and it was back to a 20-7.
On the next drive McNabb broke two marks throwing his 200th touchdown and breaking 30,000 yards with a 58 yard bomb to DeSean Jackson for the 27-7 lead going into halftime. This came on a 3rd and 23 and showcased exactly how capable McNabb is when he is in sync with his recievers. DeSean became the first Eagle in 60 years to score on a 50+ yard pass and a 50+ yard rush in the same game. Washington did recover enough to get a last second field goal and close to 27-10 going into halftime.
There was no scoring in the 2nd half until the game clock was down to 1:38 when the Redskins scored a basically meaningless touchdown after a fairly decent 78 yard drive. The first 28 minutes of the half was the Eagles playing safe and protecting the lead, and the Redskins getting great field position but being so inept at all aspects of football they stopped themselves as frequently as the Eagles defense did. Every few minutes another player went down and fortunately for Eagles fans most of the attrition was players in red and gold. With the exception of Westbrook and his concussion early, the Eagles escaped tonights game relatively intact.
Jason Campbell dropped back 48 times and got sacked 6 times and hit the ground 26 times overall. The Redskins kept playing and trying to score til the end, but the Eagles also kept coming and harrassing Campbell like they were protecting a 3 point lead instead of a 17 point one. The final score was 27-17 but the game was no where near that close at any time from the middle of the first quarter on.
The win closed the NFC East front runners back into a pack, especially in light of New York’s loss yesterday. Now the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants are all tied with 2 losses apiece, with the Giants having a half game lead overall by virtue of not having their bye week yet.
Next Sunday the Eagles continue their quest for NFC East dominance when they face those NY Giants who now have a two game losing streak. Next weeks game has gone from a traditional rivalry to potentially a contest to decide the NFC East leader at mid point of the season. The Redskins may be done early as they play one of the toughest schedules in the conference for the rest of the season.
Next Sunday will be Philly/New York, in football and then in baseball as the Phillies face the Yankees after the Eagles-Giants game 6 days from tonight. If they both win their respective games, that will be a great night in Philadelphia sports history.