Andy Reid yesterday noted that one of the TDs - the one-armed Tony Gonzalez catch at the back of the end zone - was just an amazing play. "The other ones, we've got to take care of business, both schematically and as players physically," he said.
Specifically, safety Jarrad Page had a nightmarish night, and strongside linebacker Jamar Chaney wasn't much better. Though Chaney is usually a reliable tackler, he flat-out got shucked aside by Michael Turner on the 3-yard, game-winning touchdown run. Chaney was unblocked and had an angle, just couldn't make the tackle.
If you want a straw to grasp at, it was apparent that the Eagles' defense, dominant in some respects until the fourth quarter, might have worn down badly because the offense kept giving the Falcons the ball on a short field. Three turnovers in five snaps, setting up the Falcons no further out than the 50. That would create problems for most defenses.
But playing on a full field or half, the Eagles desperately need a safety or linebacker who can cover. Corner Nnamdi Asomugha indicated afterward he would have played inside and covered Gonzalez had Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie not sprained an ankle in practice last week. Maybe that's the answer, going forward. Assuming there is an answer, from the parts the Eagles have on hand.
-- Not a great evening for DeSean Jackson: Bailed out by an offside penalty when he dropped a third-down TD pass; caught two passes for 21 yards; ran once for no yards; practically tried to tour the Atlanta beltway on a punt return.
-- Trent Cole might never play a better game, vs. run and pass. Too bad the Eagles wasted it. Four tackles for a loss. The entire Atlanta defense had two.
-- Andy Reid needs to cool it with the gadget plays. The offense is loaded. You can throw and run the ball normally and score a bunch of points. You don't need the left tackle trying to pull to make a trap block, or wideouts running a quadruple reverse, or any of that silliness. Just play. The yards still count, even if you didn't fool the other team with your clever machinations.
-- That 61-yard Michael Turner run? At least half of it came because Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie couldn't get around Jarrad Page's roadblock to make the tackle. Finally, DRC went around Page, then worked his way over to Turner. Look for Jarrad soon in a Comcast commercial, sharing the sofa with Bill and Karolyn Slowsky.
That DeSean Jackson was the Eagles' best open-field tackler? If he bulks up to 180, he might challenge Casey Matthews for the MIKE job. But the Eagles don't like to pay linebackers.
Vaunted Falcons rookie wideout Julio Jones was targeted eight times. Caught two passes, for 29 yards. Excellent job by the Eagles corners, which ended up ruined by the safeties and linebackers.
The more the NFL tweaks its replay system, the less sense it makes.
Fans were treated to a laborious, superfluous review of an obvious Tony Gonzalez touchdown, just because the league reviews all scoring plays now. Earlier, Atlanta's Kelvin Hayden clearly trapped what was ruled an interception from Michael Vick. There was no review. Andy Reid would have had to challenge, and he didn't, Reid said yesterday, because the initial replay showed by NBC didn't make it seem likely Hayden had trapped the ball. Only after the Falcons converted the pick into a touchdown drive did NBC air a replay that clearly showed the trap.
"There was no replay for us to look at. I actually had the people from the broadcast apologize, send me an email and apologize on that, but listen, that's hindsight now," Reid said.
Reid's email came from "Sunday Night Football'' producer Fred Gaudelli, whose statement aired last night on Comcast SportsNet's "Daily News Live.'' Gaudelli explained that in the 40 seconds before the Falcons snapped the ball, NBC showed three replay views: "We didn't have the fourth and conclusive replay until after the Falcons took possession."
Gaudelli said he emailed because he "felt bad that the conclusive replay wasn't available."
Reid was being a good sport in downplaying the matter, but he also was dancing past criticism. Reid, burned by unsuccessful challenges in the past, already had gotten one right in Sunday's game. This was a key moment, you really couldn't see what the ball was doing underneath Hayden on the initial replays, and Eagles wideout Jason Avant was vigorously signaling that it was not a catch. Had Reid challenged, you have to think NBC would have dug up the right replay much sooner.
Except for scoring plays and plays within the final 2 minutes of a half, it's up to Eagles coaches in the booth to peer at TV monitors and advise Reid on challenging. Some networks have more cameras and more angles than others. Home teams make sure replays go up on giant scoreboard monitors for coaches to see, if review might favor the home team.
The league needs to standardize the review process. Set up the same equipment in every press box, so both teams' coaches can see all the angles they need, immediately. You also could expand booth review to all turnovers, in addition to touchdowns. Yeah, the standardized equipment would cost money. Didn't seem to be a problem when the NFL Network set up a permanent camera at every practice facility to broadcast news conferences a few years back.