Best-laid Plans Don't Materialize

Posted: December 06, 1999

TEMPE, Ariz. — It was ugly, and the Eagles still almost won. They fell yesterday, 21-17, to the Cardinals, almost winning in spite of themselves.

They wanted to limit the scrambling of Cardinals quarterback Jake "The Snake" Plummer, but late in the game, Plummer scooted around the outside and hit big passes. In fact, the back-breaker of 38 yards to Frank Sanders to the Eagles' 1, setting up the winning touchdown in the final minute, was thrown as he fled to the sideline.

"We had specific people on the outside to contain him," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "They got a little overanxious, that's what happened."

The Eagles wanted to force Plummer into throwing bad passes they could intercept, and they succeeded. But they dropped at least four interceptions, including one on each of the Cards' touchdown drives.

"We missed those picks," said a rueful Troy Vincent. "That game should have been over."

They wanted to limit penalties, but committed nine for 64 yards. The Cards committed one 5-yard penalty.

They wanted to manage the clock and have good tempo but, with the ball at their 34, trailing by four and the clock stopped, quarterback Donovan McNabb had to use the team's final timeout with 24 seconds left. McNabb had to call the timeout to keep from incurring a delay-of-game penalty.

They wanted better special-teams play than they had been getting, but they gave up two decent kickoff returns. With a 17-7 lead early in the fourth quarter they failed to down a pooch punt inside the Cards' 5, Allen Rossum and Dietrich Jells colliding and the ball bouncing into the end zone. Later, Rashard Cook committed a holding penalty on the kickoff after Arizona's final TD, when the Eagles needed a touchdown in 51 seconds.

All this, and still they nearly won. It almost gives credence to the words of Cardinals coach Vince Tobin: "They're going to be a force to be reckoned with."

For now, they're 3-10.

INJURY UPDATE

The Eagles lost center Steve Everitt with a concussion in the first half. He said he was fine after the game. Bubba Smith replaced him and played well.

Defensive tackle Brandon Whiting went down with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, a similar injury to the one that cost him three weeks of training camp. Whiting left on crutches but said the training-camp injury was worse. With three games left, he will be a candidate for injured reserve.

Free safety Brian Dawkins broke his hand in the fourth quarter but continued to play. Dawkins also broke his hand earlier in the year.

Linebacker Mike Caldwell suffered a deep thigh bruise in the third quarter that kept him out, but he said he would be OK.

IT AIN'T SO

Donovan McNabb and the Eagles denied reports that he had plans to spend Friday night with former schoolmate Simeon Rice, who attended Mount Carmel in Illinois.

"That was all false," McNabb said. "I don't know who started that."

Rice did, with Arizona reporters.

"Simeon is a guy that keeps that going," McNabb said. "He'll say some comedic things to the media and blow it up."

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