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Birds Drop Bucs in the Nick of Time

The Eagles snapped a months-long losing streak with a last-second road win over Tampa Bay and key drives engineered by quarterback Nick Foles.

Eagles games would be unwatchable under these circumstances if not for the intrigue of tracking the development of young quarterback Nick Foles.

His progress has been tough to judge at times because the offensive line is so deplorable.

(Today at Tampa, that line was no better. Bryce Brown's terrible outing—6 rushing yards, plus two catches for another 6—can also be attributed to the porous offensive line, which allowed the Buccaneer defense to play in the Eagle's offensive backfield all game long.)

Yet watching Foles for the first three-and-a-half quarters on Sunday, it was difficult not to get excited about his play. After he led a thrilling, last-second, game-winning drive, it was almost impossible.

The comeback officially began on an earlier drive, during which Foles threw a beautiful, running pass to Clay Harbor to shave 5 points off an 11-point deficit. After a quick defensive stop, the stage was set. Two fourth-down conversions, 64 yards and 2:44 later, Jeremy Maclin cradled Foles's pass in the front right side of the endzone, just getting a knee down inbounds as time expired for the game-clinching TD.

Empty redemptions

The 23-21 loss was a crushing blow to the Bucs, which, at 6-6 coming into the game, still had playoff aspirations. It was fitting because Tampa honored its 2002 Super Bowl-winning team from 10 years ago at halftime—a Super Bowl the Buccaneers had reached by upsetting the Eagles.

It was small consolation, but any Eagles fan with a memory had to take pleasure in sounding the death knell for the 2012 Bucs' playoff hopes.

And the Eagles looked like they had won the Super Bowl the way they celebrated the win that snapped their 8-game losing streak. A little overdone perhaps, but the weight of two months of losing had been a heavy one to bear.

In the grand scheme of things, the win meant little. That it resulted from Foles' outstanding play and the last second drive he engineered means a great deal. Without a good or developing QB, there is no hope for an NFL team. In a season with so little to smile about, the possibility of the Eagles having found their QB of the future is reason to grin ear to ear.

Not too much earlier before Foles' heroics, the Eagles thoroughly dominated the Bucs for a solid half of football. Then the special teams unraveled with a muffed punt and two missed field goals. This team lacks character and when things start to go downhill, it rarely has the fortitude to stop the momentum before it costs the game.

Thanks to Foles, the Eagles were able to overcome their mistakes yesterday by the narrowest of margins. When a team has a quarterback who can perform in the clutch, it makes everyone better. But winning cures all—well, almost.

Still seeking Nnamdi

The defense played better, but the poster child for the Eagles' problems this year is Nnamdi Asomugha. He is constantly beaten by any receiver he tries to cover. When he manages to be near a receiver, he gets out-muscled for the ball. He is incapable of tackling and unwilling to tackle. In an open competition—devoid of contract implications—with his pedestrian backup, Curtis Marsh, he would lose in a blowout.

The Eagles have a lot of chemistry problems to solve. Excising the heartless growth that is Nnamdi Asomugha should top their offseason to-do list. Even with that, the Eagles still have a roster laden with players who do not complement each other and who cannot play well together. They have some individuals who can be useful going forward, but they have a lot of work to do.

Today, though, was about Nick Foles. In leading the game-winning drive, he was again very composed and poised. For a novice quarterback on the road, his demeanor was as impressive as were his passes. It is too soon to tell if he will be a franchise player—Reid has named him the started for the remainder of the season—but Foles' composure suggests he's unlikely to fall flat on his face in a full-time role (like Bobby Hoying, for instance).

Ours is still a winter of extreme discontentment. As fans, we wish we were rooting for a division leader, scoreboard-watching and calculating tiebreakers. Such is not to be this year.

The offseason will bring a lot of changes to this organization. In the meantime, we will watch glorified preseason games and root for the young QB to develop. It is all we have and it is also the most important thing to have.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bo December 13, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Garcia, well that was the only time big red ran a true west coast offense. You've peaked my curiosity so I guess I gotta check that out on you tube, but he only played half a season as the starting QB, and Foles has done what often in how many games he's played. I love Randall too, but let's not forget that w/o his stint in Minnesota, Randall would've befell the same fate as McNabb, a whiner who played small when it mattered most. He won one playoff game as an Eagle, but because of that '98 season with the Vikes, you could make a reasonable argument that he should be considered for the HOF. I do understand this disdain for Donovan, as I have a good amount of the same for Jaws. Hasn't Monday Night Football been great this season!
Larry O'Doyle December 14, 2012 at 12:04 AM
First off, HUGE kudos to the author for his diligent and timely submission of his articles despite the blanket of apathy smothering the smoldering rage of rank disappointment running rampant amongst this dedicated fan base. Great job of providing keen insight into the Birds' many issues while providing a sanctuary where true fans can discuss Eagles football intelligently. Nice job!
Mike Diviney December 14, 2012 at 05:17 AM
I actually miss Jaws on the broadcasts. I think Randall won 3 MVP's, did he not? It was at least 2 and McNabb a big fat ZERO. You can't discount Randall's best season? They set an NFL record for pts. that season.
Mike Diviney December 14, 2012 at 05:19 AM
Thank you. I have to say it's not been easy due to the metronome-like monotony of futility we get drilled with week after week after week. To the Green and Silver we'll be loyal... no matter how tough that might be.
Porterincollingswood December 14, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Apparently we remove Washburn from the equation and all of a sudden we have 4-5 very strong defensive linemen (as expected) and the squad gets 6 sacks in a single night. Dalton was harassed every time he dropped back. That clinches it. Washburn is the worst Philly coach of my lifetime. Period. What might have been if he was let go over the summer. Pretty much we traded everyone else's sacks, run defense, Juan Castillo's career, Todd Bowles' reputation, and wins to get Jason Babin a handful of big plays. Wow. It's like we had a 3rd grade Madden player at the helm of the D-line.

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