At least the onside kick worked

Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin can't hold onto a pass from Michael Vick while the Giants' Corey Webster covers him. Maclin caught just four passes. RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin can't hold onto a pass from Michael Vick while the Giants' Corey Webster covers him. Maclin caught just four passes. RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Posted: December 31, 2012

Here are some observations and ruminations about the Eagles-Giants game:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Well, at least Andy Reid had the onside kick.

For the fifth time since he became head coach, Reid called for an onside kick to open a game. It worked. It was pretty much the only thing that worked Sunday for the Eagles. Alex Henery drilled the ball into the ground, and 10 yards later Brandon Hughes recovered it.

But the Eagles had momentum for all of five plays before Michael Vick tossed an interception.

Reid was successful on three onside kicks to open games - in 2000 at Dallas in the "Pickle Juice" game, a year later against the Chiefs, and on Sunday. The Eagles failed in 2003 against the Cowboys - that kick was returned for a touchdown - and in 2009 against the Redskins.

 

- Jeff McLane

 

Short but not so sweet

There were many sequences throughout the game that demonstrated the Eagles' futility, but one near the end of the second quarter was particularly revealing.

On third and 9 from the 10-yard line, Eagles receiver Damaris Johnson got inside position in the end zone, but Vick threw the ball too high.

Johnson, who is listed at 5-foot-8, is the type of diminutive receiver targeted in the red zone that has frustrated Eagles fans for years. Perhaps a taller receiver would have been able to make a play on the ball.

On the next play, Henery missed a 28-yard chip shot. Henery's kick sailed to the left and barely even reached the goalpost. The second-year kicker shanked the ball in embarrassing fashion, and the Eagles had nothing to show for the drive.

 

- Zach Berman

 

Flailed and failed

Nnamdi Asomugha's brutal first half was emblematic of his season.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning kept picking on the veteran Eagles cornerback. The Giants' second touchdown came when Manning found Reuben Randle singled up against Asomugha deep. Asomugha ran step for step with the receiver for most of the way, but when it came time to make a play on the ball, he flailed and failed.

A quarter later, Manning went back at the cornerback inside the Eagles 10. Asomugha got away with holding receiver Domenik Hixon on second down but was flagged for pass interference on the next play. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw punched it into the end zone a play later to give the Giants a 28-7 lead.

There were several other subpar plays by Asomugha in the game. It's going to take a leap of incredible faith for the Eagles to bring him back next season, even if he's guaranteed $4 million.

 

- J.M.

 

Fourth and 2013

Reid was more aggressive than usual, a signal that there was nothing to lose in his final game. He kept his offense on the field twice on fourth downs on their first scoring drive, once on a fourth and 10 from the 31-yard line, another on a fourth and 1 from the 7-yard line.

The Eagles converted both, which was about the only positive that came out of the game.  

- Z.B.

Worst of the worst

The 2012 defense was the worst in recent Eagles memory, perhaps even distant memory. There were so many bad moments in Sunday's game that it was hard to pick the worst.

How about Colt Anderson's man-to-man coverage of Victor Cruz?

That was bad, but we'll go with the Giants' third touchdown of the game. Every offense has its favorite play, but after a while division rivals pick up on it, and it goes to the back pages. The Giants love the halfback wheel route, especially in the red zone.

Last year, they fooled the Eagles with the play when Brandon Jacobs ran out of the backfield, and Casey Matthews was late to react. On Sunday, David Wilson ran the route. Eagles linebacker Jamar Chaney was there to cover, but he was beaten and had no help, and Wilson scored from 15 yards out.

 

- J.M.

 

Cruz control

The worst half of the season was cemented by Manning's 24-yard touchdown pass to Cruz with 10 seconds remaining in the first half.

It appeared that Cruz was supposed to be bumped at the line by slot cornerback Brandon Boykin. That didn't happen. Then the coverage went to Anderson, a special-teams player disguised as a safety for the final month of the season. Anderson could not keep up with a Pro Bowl receiver, and Cruz had no one around him.

That gave the Giants a 35-7 lead and Manning his fourth touchdown.

 

- Z.B.

 


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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