Playing between the two barbaric Ryan brothers – who at this point have to be trying to outdo each other to see who can look more simultaneously fat and angry – Tony Romo managed to almost singlehandedly choke away the game. The tipping point happened with just over a minute to go in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 24. Romo threw a lame duck into the waiting hands of Darrelle Revis. The Jets went on to kick the game-winning field goal 30 seconds later.
Not to be outdone, Former Five, who is quickly turning into black Kerry Collins, isn’t off to the best of starts in Minnesota. Here are McNabb’s stats from yesterday. Caution, babies were harmed in the formation of this next sentence: 7-for-15, 39 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 47.9 QB rating. As (@PhillySportsTkr) put it, Michael Schwimmer, who threw just five pitches yesterday, threw for more yards than McNabb in his first start as a Viking. Well played, Former Five.
Onto the Birds.
I was most concerned about Juan Castillo. By all accounts, he sleeps very little and cares a bit too much about his profession. This was a big deal. The rags-to-riches story of a Mexican offensive line coach who hasn’t run a defense since 1989… at a high school. Now he was standing on the sidelines against the Rams, waiting to coach his first game as defensive coordinator… on the road… and on turf. I had him at 9:1 to spontaneously combust on the sidelines. I saw it as a bargain.
He didn’t, thankfully. But he did look like he had 12 cups of coffee during just the pregame ceremony alone. However, save for the lapse to start the game (my best chance of winning the bet), the defense fared pretty well against the Rams. The line did a nice job of confusing them and the corners were – for the most part – solid. Casey Matthews looks like a Madden defender with an under-70 awareness rating, as he seems to be about a second behind everything, but this was his first game, too, we’ll give him some time before feverishly trying to figure out if “create-a-player” mode works in franchise.
The offense is the offense- no surprises. Vick, Jackson, McCoy, and Avant were all solid. The line was frightening and too frequently let defenders sprint by them with not so much as a glance in their direction… but that’s sort of what we expected, especially in Week 1.
I’d like to turn attention to the FOX broadcast crew of Tom Thome Thorn Thumb Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick. Brennaman was about as vanilla as they come, but Billick was outstanding. Judging by a number of Tweets I received, most of you disagree and think he’s an Eagle-hating blowhard who – like every national announcer – has it out for Philadelphia. It’s called being neutral.
Anyway, Billick provided spot-on, sometimes harsh criticism. He quickly picked up on almost every strategy being used by both coaches and often added to the broadcast more than he hurt it, even though he did talk a bit too much and mispronounced some things like….
Let’s not let this game get away without mentioning Andy Reid’s still horrible clock management skills. At the end of the first half, the Eagles were – of course – without any timeouts when this sequence happened: first down, spike ball, delay of game, and field goal with nine seconds remaining. Perhaps Reid should have watch the Michigan-Notre Dame game on Saturday night. If he did, he would have known that nine seconds was enough time to throw a quick fade into the end zone. None of this mattered, but getting a delay of game penalty after spiking the ball is an almost impossible achievement.
After the game, Reid had his best moment of the day when he said to a St. Louis reporter:
“I presume you’re from St. Louis because you said ‘excuse me.’”
Howard Eskin appeared to get into it with Cadillac Williams in the fourth quarter:
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that ESPN’s Madden sim had the Eagles winning 31-15. They won 31-13. Impressive.