Last week we started our series with Leonard Tose. This week we are going back to January 2007, specifically the 2007 playoffs. The Eagles had began the season jumping out to an early NFC East lead. A lead they would be able to hold onto thanks to Jeff Garcia. Donovan McNabb tore is ACL against the Tennessee Titans during a game at Lincoln Financial Field and would be lost for the season. Garcia took the reigns and for the rest of the season didn’t look back. The regular season ended with 3 straight division road wins including a Christmas Day win against Dallas. The Eagles were going to the playoffs as NFC East champs with a 10-6 record. After a wildcard win against the Giants a game against the New Orleans Saints loomed. The Eagles went into this game flying high. The game played out as most people thought it would. It was a close game as crunch time set in during the 4th quarter.
What if Andy Reid didn’t punt the ball down 27-24 with 1:56 remaining facing a 4th – 15? The Eagles had 2 timeouts remaining. After a false start penalty the Eagles face a 4th – 15. They hadn’t be able to stop the Saints all game. One 1st down and the game was over. The Saints got their first down and went onto face the Bears in the NFC Championship game. Andy Reid’s questionable time management would linger through out his entire coaching career. This game was a microcosm of that. It’s obvious to me he should have gone for it. In my opinion the odds were better at 4th -15 for one play then holding the Saints for 4 straight plays. Everyone forgets, even if the Eagles stopped the Saints they still would have needed to go the length of the field of the tie or go ahead score with no TOs. The Garcia to Stallworth connection was working all game. I would have tried to get the ball downfield or in the hands of All-Pro Brian Westbrook. The key to this play is the false start. Had it been 4th – 10 there’s no doubt in my mind the Eagles would have gone for it. At 4th – 10 the odds are increasingly better than 4th-15.
A win in this game and the Eagles could have given the Bears a run for their money. The 2007 team was solid. They played all 3 phrases of the game well and were fundamentally sound. I’m not saying they would have beat the Bears, not at all. But they would have given them a solid test.
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