Less than twenty-four hours after Tony Romo committed one of the
most embarrassing, costly blunders in football history, not much else
will be talked about after the Eagles defended Lincoln Financial Field
in a 23-20 Wild Card Weekend triumph. The final 137 yards of Tiki
Barber’s career—now overshadowed. Brian Westbrook’s leadership, not to
mention his forty-nine-yard touchdown dash despite stomach cramps—no
longer headline making. Jeff Garcia continuing to lead the Eagles to an
improbable six-game winning streak—already an old story.
The snap. The hold. The kick. Flawless.
Dorenbos to Detmer to Akers to the back of the netting.
The pigskin spun end-over-end, cutting through the light drizzle
covering Philadelphia, thirty-eight yards straight through the
uprights. Routine and expected—just like it’s supposed to be.
But after watching Dallas’ Pro Bowl quarterback botch a potentially
game-winning snap replayed repeatedly on every news and sports network,
Eagles fans could not help but be a little more anxious than normal.
While both teams hail from the NFC East, the division rivals could
not have had two more opposite resumes entering Sunday’s game. After
opening their season 6-0, Eli Manning and the injury riddled Giants
floundered their way into the postseason, salvaging a .500 record with
an ugly win at Washington last weekend. The Eagles, meanwhile, looked
no better than average under All Pro quarterback Donovan McNabb. Then,
in a completely counterintuitive twist, McNabb suffered a season-ending
ACL injury, and the Eagles surged to a division title.
Those that orchestrated the Eagles resurgence were the usual
suspects all over again on Sunday. Garcia managed the game beautifully,
throwing for 153 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. Westbrook
complemented the even balanced offensive attack with 141 yards on the
ground and one explosive touchdown run. And Akers was as reliable as
ever, booting three field goals from 18, 48 (a team record in the
postseason), and the eventual 38-yard game-winner.
Eli Manning-to-Plaxico Burress seemed to be the only thing
offensively working for the Giants, as the tandem posted two touchdowns
on the afternoon. But the Eagles lowly 26th-ranked rush defense came up
strong, spoiling Barber’s bid to extend his career one more game.
The Eagles will next travel to the Bayou to bout with the unlikely NFC South champion New Orleans Saints.