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News » Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2008-10-30

Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2008-10-30

Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2008-10-30
A pair of fourth-quarter plays in Sunday's 27-14 win over the Atlanta Falcons once again exposed what could be a fatal flaw in the 4-3 Eagles' playoff hopes.

Twice late in the game they failed to convert third-and-one situations that could have put the game away. They failed to score on a quarterback sneak by Donovan McNabb with nine minutes left that would have put the Eagles up by three scores.

Then, with less than three minutes left in the game and the Eagles clinging to a six-point lead, they failed to convert another third-and-one at their own 26 that forced them to punt the ball away to the Falcons.

If these were isolated instances, it would be no big deal. But they're not. Heading into Sunday's game against the 2-5 Seahawks in Seattle, the Eagles are ranked 29th in the league in third-and-one conversions. They've converted just 6 of 13, including 4 of 10 rushing attempts.

They also are 23rd in the league in goal-to-go scoring, turning just 12 of 19 goal-to-go opportunities into touchdowns. Since the second half of their 24-20 Week 4 loss to the Chicago Bears, they are 4-for-9 in goal-to-go-situations. They blew two goal-to-go scoring opportunities in the second half of the Bears game that cost them a win.

"There are some things we've got to get better at," coach Andy Reid said of his short-yardage and goal-line problems. "There are some things that are being done (wrong) a couple of times. So we've got to make sure we straighten that out and get it right."

Asked whether the problem is schematic (coaching) or a lack of execution (players), Reid said, "I'll always take the responsibility for that. I can put these guys in better spots. But they have to take care of business from there."

Reid has repeatedly dismissed the notion that he needs a bigger back for short-yardage and goal-line situations. None of the three running backs currently on the roster - Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter or Lorenzo Booker - weighs more than 210 pounds.

The loss of Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews to a back injury in Week 2 hasn't helped. Neither has the fact that the Eagles don't have a true fullback on the roster. They started the year with converted running back Tony Hunt as their starting fullback, even though he had almost no blocking experience. Two weeks ago, they released Hunt and replaced him with Dan Klecko, who had been a defensive tackle for the first five games of the season.

"It's frustrating when you drive down there and have the ball on the 1-yard line or half-yard line and can't score," McNabb said. "We have to get in the end zone."

McNabb and left tackle Tra Thomas blamed Reid for the failure on the quarterback sneak last week. "It seemed like everybody in the stadium knew that was coming," Reid said.

Said Thomas: "The Falcons knew what was going on and just piled everybody into that 'A' gap. It's tough when everybody just jumps to the ground and submarines you and tries to take your feet out. It's hard to get any push when they're on the ground like that."

The Eagles' offensive line has given up just 12 sacks this season, but hasn't been nearly as effective in blocking for the run. Until Brian Westbrook exploded for a career-high 167 yards last week, the Eagles had been averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.

Center Jamaal Jackson makes all of the blocking calls for the line. Without mentioning him by name, Thomas suggested that he's been a big reason for the Eagles' short-yardage failures.

"A lot of 'em have been miscommunication," he said. "We're just not getting the right call out. I'm not going to throw anybody under the bus, but there are just mistakes being made that are throwing it off for us."

SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Eagles lead the series 6-5, though the Seahawks have won the last two meetings, both of which were in Philadelphia. With QB Donovan McNabb out with an ankle injury, his replacement, A.J. Feeley, threw four interceptions in a 28-24 loss to the Seahawks last year.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 30, 2008

Sav Rocca Name: Sav Rocca
Position: P
Age: 34
Experience: 2 years
College: None
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