Eagles look polished in loss

August 7th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Eagles look polished in loss


CANTON, Ohio -- The Eagles were formidable Sunday night -- for one series.
They played like the team that made the Super Bowl in 2004-05 -- for one series.

Bore no resemblance to the 6-10 squad of last season -- stop me if youíve heard this -- for one series.

Impressive as the Eagles starters were, donít book those hotel rooms in Miami just yet. It was one series, one game and ultimately a 16-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders in front of 22,200 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game.

Speaking of "one," wasnít that the 2005 marketing theme?

"We came with a different attitude," Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "This is something thatís serious for us. We were prepared to come out and have a good showing. This preseason is something that weíre going to take very seriously. Weíre going to try to take steps forward to get ready for (the regular season opener in Houston)."

The game took an ugly turn in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Eagles RB Bruce Perry was carried off on a stretcher with 1:14 remaining, his head immobilized. He was tackled by rookie Timi Wusu on a running play. Players from both sides stood silently or kneeled in prayer before Perry was removed. Perry gave a thumbs-up as he was wheeled to an ambulance and taken to a hospital.

But in the beginning, it was all positive for the Birds. The Eaglesí starting offense averaged almost seven yards per play on its first -- and only -- possession. No play was longer than 15 yards.

Reidís first play was the one he promised a lot more of this year -- the run. Six of the nine plays on the opening drive were -- you guessed it -- runs. Thatís better than a 3-to-1 run-to-pass ratio, the opposite of last year.

In retrospect it was all but over for the Raiders on the first snap of the evening when Brian Westbrook burst 15 yards behind a tremendous surge from the offensive line, in particular the right side of guard Shawn Andrews and tackle Jon Runyan.

With the threat of a running game, McNabb froze the Oakland pass rush that included former Eagle Derrick Burgess, who led the league in sacks last year. The quarterback then effortlessly carved up the Raiders completing three of four pass attempts for 29 yards and a 106.9 passer rating.

"It felt good," McNabb said. "It was good that the offense got a chance to get out there and get things rolling. We also picked up some key blitzes and were able to spread the ball around to different receivers, give them the opportunity to get their feet wet a little bit.

"I felt healthy, so itís an exciting time right now."

Westbrook lugged the ball six times for 36 yards, including a one-yard score behind the powerful push of Andrews. Westbrook accounted for 50 of the 61 yards as he also contributed a 14-yard catch-and-run.

"It felt great," Westbrook said. "Coach told us early that we wanted to kind of set the tone with the running game and thatís what we did. The offensive line was out there opening up holes. I thought on a couple of runs I should have scored so Iíve got to do a better job. But the offensive line did a great job and hopefully thatís how it will be."

The first-team Eagles defense made big plays on both of its seriesí, too, with Trent Cole sacking Aaron Brooks and Rod Hood picking off the Oakland signal-caller. Brooks completed just one of three passes for 12 total yards.

"It was important for us to set the tone and I think we did that," defensive end Darren Howard said. "It went fast, but we did what we had to do when we were in there."

David Akers drilled an NFL Hall of Fame game-record 55-yard field goal to produce a 10-7 lead with 9:41 left in a first half the Eagles dominated except for a turnover.

On the downside, Eagles backup quarterback Jeff Garcia was wild throwing toward Jabar Gaffney late in the first quarter, the ball hanging up for cornerback Fabian Washington, whose 40-yard return set up the Raidersí only score of the first half.

Brooks and the first-team Raiders offense stamped a TD on the second-team Eagles defense, with LaMont Jordan banging up the middle for 14 yards and 6-6, 270-pound tight end Courtney Anderson grabbing a 12-yard pass just 48 seconds into the second quarter.

The Eagles generated 121 total yards in the first half including 49 on the ground and held the Raiders to 87 yards.

"Weíve got a lot of work to do," Jordan said. "It looks like we picked up right where we left off last year. The bright side is this is our first preseason game."

In the third quarter, linebacker Grant Irons (6-6, 285) popped the ball loose sacking Koy Detmer on a sack, teammate Michael Quarshie recovering for the Raiders at the Philly 13. A bad snap interrupted what should have been a 31-yard field Raiders goal.

In a game full of big hits, Eagles defenders J.R. Reed and Joselio Hanson sandwiched wide receiver Kevin McMahon on a deep ball that shook up all three with 2:47 left in the third quarter. All exited on their own efforts.

Moments later Sebastian Janikowski drilled a 51-yard field goal to knot the score at 10.

Hanson, the Texas Tech product that didnít make the media guide, was all over the field and around the ball. Hanson was in the right place to intercept a deep ball tipped by teammate Matt Ware early in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders went ahead on a 50-yard Janikowski field goal with 11:53 left on a drive set up by a 35-yard Reggie Hodges punt. The Raiders also got a fumble recovery by Hanson reversed.

When Perry fumbled the ball away at the Eaglesí 39, it set up a 24-yard Janikowski boot giving the Raiders a 16-10 cushion with 5:44 to go.

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