Approached this week by a reporter who asked for the particulars of his most recent winning effort, Sims craftily cited the preseason victory over Kansas City Aug. 27. Nice try, but no, that didn't count. Sims then said he couldn't remember.
"It's not fun," Sims confirmed. "You don't play the game to lose, you play the game to win."
Someone wondered whether Sims felt a difference in the atmosphere here, with a team that has suffered only one losing season in the past 11. He said it wasn't as if everyone in Detroit sat around expecting to lose all the time.
"To be honest with you, while I was in Detroit, the confidence level was there," Sims said. "All the right things were there, it was just that we didn't do the right things we had to do to win the ballgame. We made too many mistakes. But as far as the confidence level and the attitude, I thought all of those were in place."
Sims, whose physical play in training camp sometimes drifted over the line, asserted that, as he takes the field for his first meaningful game in his new home, he will not roam the field headhunting.
"Of course, we want to go out there and be physical, we want to fly around, we want to punish people, pretty much hit people in the mouth and everything, but at the end of the day, you've got to do your job," Sims said. "You can hit people all you want, but if you don't do your job, you're going to get beat."
Oh, yeah, that game
The Eagles last played the Packers on Sept.9, 2007, at Lambeau Field, the first NFL game for quarterback Kevin Kolb and tight end Brent Celek. Both said yesterday they remembered the historic setting more than anything else.
"I remember it was a lot like a college atmosphere," said Kolb, who also recalled he was the No. 2 to Donovan McNabb that day, not No. 3, because A.J. Feeley had suffered a broken finger in the preseason. "I was pretty focused."
Celek said he remembered "Brett Favre running out of the tunnel."
Eagles fans have a few more pungent memories from the 16-13, season-opening loss. When pushed, Kolb and Celek allowed they recalled that stuff, too, they just didn't want to dwell on it as they prepare to face Green Bay again.
As the game story in the next day's Daily News noted, it was a game that put the "special" in special teams. The Birds lost to a Packers team that averaged 2.7 yards per rush, 3.7 yards per pass attempt, and did not come close to scoring an offensive touchdown.
This happened because the Eagles spent the preseason grooming returner Jeremy Bloom, then cut him, with no viable alternative. Then-first year special-teams coordinator Rory Segrest tapped Greg Lewis to be the punt returner. Lewis muffed his first catch, and future Eagle Tracy White recovered in the end zone for the only Packers touchdown of the day. Later, Lewis ran into blocker Jason Avant while fielding a punt, and unwisely threw himself onto a short punt that didn't need to be fielded. This led to Segrest trotting out kick returner J.R. Reed for punts, even though Reed, like Lewis, had no recent punt experience.
With the score tied at 13 and a little more than a minute left in regulation, Reed muffed a fair catch and the Packers recovered, setting up Mason Crosby's 42-yard game-winning field goal.
The Eagles were the better team that day in just about every statistical category, yet the Packers, in Favre's final Green Bay season, went on to a 13-3 record and a berth in the NFC Championship Game. The Eagles began a seasonlong pattern of shooting themselves in the foot; they wound up 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
"Opening games do matter," Kolb said, when reminded of how 2007 unfolded in both cities.
Trying to click with Vick
The sense in the preseason was that the Eagles intend to continue last year's shuffling in and out of backup quarterback Michael Vick for certain situations they deem favorable matchups. But if you take out Kevin Kolb for a snap, say, in the red zone, aren't you messing with Kolb's settling into the position, not to mention the stats he'll be judged on as he takes over the reins from Donovan McNabb?
"I understand the question [but] I really don't get into all that," coach Andy Reid said yesterday. "I don't care [about the stats]. Obviously, I care about the quality of play, just like Kevin does, and that's the important thing. And the ability to lead that offensive unit . . . I don't know if Michael will play a play, but if he's in there, I expect him to play that play like he's in charge, and then Kevin likewise, with the other plays that he's in."
Vick said he doesn't have a great feel for how much action he might see tomorrow. He said he expects it will be like last season, with an extensive package of plays in the game plan for him, then situations determining how much of that package gets used.
Andy Reid seemed reluctant to comment on the Eagles' being completely healthy for the opener, lest he jinx his team . . . Kevin Kolb said what he took out of New Orleans' season-opening Thursday night victory over Minnesota was that "first games are always a little bit crazy, and nobody is really settled in yet" . . . Reid might have just been striving for the old competitive advantage, but he demurred when asked to confirm that DeSean Jackson will return punts and Ellis Hobbs kicks (though Jackson said Thursday he would be the punt returner). Reid said he might go with Jorrick Calvin, the corner-returner the Birds picked up from the Cardinals last week. "I'm debating on that right now," Reid said. Calvin said he had no idea if he would be up or down. Hobbs said that he wasn't sure either, that there had been "a lot of heavy rotation" among the returners this week. *
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