Well, I was one of the luckiest sports fans in America on Saturday. First, I
was able to get in to see the Flyers win a huge game over the Rangers, 4-2.
It was the big return of Eric Lindros to the "Big House" as we call it in Philly.
Lindros finished the game with 3 shots and no checks. How appropriate then, when
the "Blue Sea" parted with Kim Jonsson holding the puck scored on a breakaway
with everyone in the zone. Jonsson was one of the principles in the Lindros trade.
The game ended about 3:50pm. I strolled quickly over to the Vet. The game was to
begin at 4:35. The stadium was filling up early. All you could see was a sea of
midnight green, kelly green and white. Thanks to ACME Markets, they even handed out
towels for people to wave. It seemed like that was all I did all game long. We had a
lot to wav about. The game began with an earthquake as six US Army Blackhawk
helicopters rumbled over the stadium only 15 feet above the top. What an awesome
site it was. Then the fireworks began with player intorductions as the Eagles
defense was announced for the crowd. The Bucs won the toss and not much else.
They elected to kickoff. Brian Mitchell returned it to the Eagles 35 yard line.
Three plays later, Chad Lewis slipped and allowed the ball to be intercepted by
Dexter Jackson. But the Eagles defense held their ground and forced the Bucs to
kick a field goal. The game may have been decided 4 plays later as Donovan McNabb
used his legs to gallop down the field for a 39 yard romp. David Akers kicked a
field goal to tie the score at 3-3.
The Tampa Bay Bucanneers were blessed by the weather as the game time temperture
was above 40 degrees. It was actually 46. So you can throw out that 0-20 record
for this one. Well, it did not help them anyway. The Eagles still kicked ass. I
went to that game back in 1992, when we invited the Dallas Cowboys for a party
on Monday Night and we whipped them pretty bad, 31-7, but this one was better.
The Bucs 6th ranked best overall NFL defense was helpless versus Donovan McNabb.
He ran only 4 times for 57 yards, but set up many more big plays with his legs
by scrambling around. First he found Todd Pinkston down the middle of the field
for a big gain as he followed his blockers for a 41 yard catch to the Tampa Bay 19.
Then soon afterwards, he found Chad Lewis in the endzone while rolling to his
right to escape the pressure. That made the score 10-3. Late in second quarter, he
was flushed again and passed off a nice a little screen pass to Duce Staley, who
ran it from 23 yards out and gave the Birds a commanding 17-6 lead. That was the
beginning of the end for the Bucs as they got the ball back 35 seconds left in the
half, and Brad Johnson completed a long pass to Keyshawn Johnson down to the Eagles
12-yard line. Two plays later, the Bucs were forced to kick another field goal.
The Eagles had a 17-9 lead at the half and the defense did the rest in the second half,
intercepting Brad Johnson 4 times.
Tampa's quarterback Brad Johnson did pass for 202 yards with 22 pass completions on
36 attempts. Half of those came late in the game with the score at 24-9. His last
pass did go for a touchdown, but the wrong way. Damon Moore intercepted his last
one with just over 2 minutes left and ran triumphantly into the endzone with the
Vet's backers cheering loudly and waving those white towels at the Bucs to just
give up. Moore's second interception of the game sent the The Eagles fans into one
last frenzy and finalized the score at 31-9. The Eagles win was dominant and complete
on both sides of the ball. The Eagles outgained the Bucs 334-258 in total yardage.
The Bucs along with Mike Alstott and Derrick Dunn were supposed to smash it down the
Eagles throats, especially with the Eagles main run stopper Hollis Thomas out with
a broken foot. Just the opposite happened. Paul Grasmanis, Corey Simon and Darwin Walker
held the vaunted Bucs rushing offense to only 63 yards on 24 carries. Alstott only
had 32 yards himself. On the other side of the ball, the Birds rushed for 148 yards.
Correll Buckahlter sharing the load with Duce Staley had 55 yards on 9 carries and
one very big touchdown which put the game basically out of reach halfway through
the third quarter at 24-9. But with Donovan McNabb playing the way he was and the Eagles
stifling defense, Tampa Bay really was overmatched. All the talk all week came from
one place down in Florida somewhere. The only talk on the field was the sorry looks
on the Bucs faces after the Eagles beat them every which way but loose.
Donovan McNabb is now 2-1 as a playoff starter. He has one more win than Randall
Cunningham who spent some 10 years as the Eagles starting quarterback. He sadly
finsihed his career as an Eagle going 1-4 in the playoffs with his only win coming
in 1992 in New Orleans. Then too, the Eagles had a very intiminating defense led
by the likes of Reggie White, Seth Joyner and Andre Watters. Compare those three
to Hugh Douglas, Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Dawkins and see many similarities.
This defense is for REAL and they are playing at an unbelievable level right now
that has to concern the Chicago Bears as they get ready for the Eagles in the Windy
City on Saturday. Not only do they have to get ready for the NFL's 7th best defense,
they must find a way to contain Donovan McNabb who can do as much damage as any one
in the entire NFL right now. Plus McNabb is coming home. Yes, he was born and raised
in the city on the lake. He still makes his home during the offseason in Chicago and
grew up with the likes of Jim McMahon and Walter Payton. Donovan will come prepared
to play in front of his family and friends. The Bears better be ready. Otherwise, da
Bears could discover what the Bucs already know. Donovan McNabb is one of the
most talented players in the NFL and you better control him or he will control you.
Well, Saturday will live in my mind for a very long time and perhaps the most memorable
moments of the game was watching the crowd and singing along to our Eagles Fight Song!
In case you don't know the words, you can click on the the link above. Finally, the Eagles
fly off to Chicago with the hopes of winning two playoff games in one year for the first
time since 1980 when the Eagles made it all the way to the Super Bowl. This time, the road
is harder, but not impossible and if we do beat the Bears and the Packers somehow pull
out a victory in St. Louis, the NFC Championship game will be right here in Philadelphia
on Sunday January 27, the same afternoon as the Sixers will be hosting the NBA World
Champion LA Lakers. We could be in for another wonderful afternoon if the cards fall right
for the City of Brotherly Love. I truly believe that the Eagles will win in Chicago this week.
It should be fun and remember always......