Wanted: Self-starter with basic understanding of when to call time-outs and how to get plays in quickly. Applicants with a clue will be given first consideration.
After the Eagles lost to the Redskins, 17-12, in a game that wasn't nearly as dramatic or interesting as the hype that preceded the contest, Andy Reid said the Eagles had a chance to win the game. He meant at the end, when time was running down and the team, in an unforeseen and shocking development, had no time-outs remaining.
It might not have come to that - the familiar desperation and ultimate disappointment - had the Eagles punched in a touchdown at the end of the first half instead of kicking a field goal. That would have potentially set up the Birds to tie the game later on, and it also might have saved them from going for two after they scored in the fourth quarter.
The botched sequence at the end of the first half was an all-timer, even for Reid. The officials spent a good while determining whether LeSean McCoy crossed the goal line. Maybe you thought he scored. Maybe Reid thought he scored. The refs didn't. They spotted the ball at the one. That seemed to bake Big Red's brain.
"I had all this time here to go over exactly what we wanted done," Reid admitted. "But the position of the ball wasn't quite what we thought."
The Eagles called a time-out - after a lengthy review. It was laughable but not all that out of character for Reid, who only makes two types of decisions - slow and slower. But, hey, you can't rush these things.
So Reid and his people talked some more. They talked for a long time. They talked so much, the Birds didn't get the play in on time and were slapped with a delay-of-game penalty - after a lengthy review and a time-out.
It takes a special strategist to turn a goal-line call into a field goal in that fashion. Donovan McNabb recognized Reid's singular talent. He clapped and smiled while the Birds were pushed back five yards.
In the press box, you can't do that sort of thing. There are rules. "There's no clapping," one reporter reminded everyone, "but are we allowed to laugh?" No one waited for permission, and there were guffaws all around.
"I take full responsibility in particular for what happened at the end of the first half," Reid said. "I thought that play initially started off as [fourth-and-] inches. But after the review, the play we had for inches ended up being a yard, and the clock was well into it when we were aware of that. That's my responsibility, and there are no excuses for it at all."
No, no, of course not. No excuses at all - except for when Reid said "I just know from where [the ball] originally was and where it ended up being were two different spots." And more than once he mumbled something about how "inches weren't inches." But, you know, the man doesn't make excuses. That's not his thing.
"I'm not here to complain about the officials," Reid said. "I'm not here to complain about anybody else. I goofed."
True enough. The difference between a few inches and a yard was enough to short-circuit the coach's wiring. You have to admire Reid's consistency there. Quarterbacks come, quarterbacks go, but the head coach remains the same in-game bungler he's been for more than a decade.
At least he took full responsibility. And don't worry: he'll put himself in a better position next week. So what if he "goofed." It could happen to anyone who's made the same sorts of mistakes for 12 seasons. These things take time to correct.
Sav Rocca was the first Eagle to greet McNabb during warm-ups. David Akers was second. Nothing like getting respect from the kickers. . . . This just in to the Page 2 Breaking News desk: Reid still isn't sure what goal-line play to call and would like to use another time-out. . . . The rise of Ray the Rant has been swift and frightening. . . . First Comcast erected a giant building in Center City. Then it bought NBC. Then, Sunday, it hired a plane to trail a CSN Philly Pregame Live/Postgame Live and circle the sky above the Linc. There must be good money in the cable TV business. . . . Page 2 programming reminder: Ask Gonzo on Philly.com at 2 p.m. on Monday.
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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