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Big Plays Are Carrying The Eagles, But Is That Enough?


There isn’t anything more exciting in football than the big play, on either side of the ball.

Whether it’s a long pass play, a run into the open field, or a defensive score, plays like that not only energize the fans but go a long way in deciding the outcome of the game.

The Eagles thus far this year and especially in its Monday night win over the Washington Redskins might be relying too much on the big play.

All three Eagles touchdowns came via the sensational play, Monday night. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s exhilarating 67-yard end around on the first series of the game; Jackson’s 57-yard catch and run on a pass from Donovan McNabb; and linebacker Will Witherspoon’s tipped interception return for a touchdown all led to the Eagles easy win over a bad Redskins team.

The rest of the night, the Eagles didn’t look much better than the Redskins, if at all.

McNabb for the second straight week looked out of sync in the offense. Even on the touchdown pass to Jackson, the ball was underthrown. Jackson was just so wide open he had time to stop and come back for the pass and then waltz into the end zone.

The running game started out OK before Brian Westbrook went out with a concussion, but rookie LeSean McCoy, who played very well in Westbrook’s absence earlier this season in win over Kansas City, was held to less than three yards per carry on his 14 carries for the night.

It wasn’t all McCoy. The offensive line seemed to be in trouble against Washington’s defensive line all night.

There was no real drive against the Redskins defense, which for their part tried its best to carry a Redskins offense that remains AWOL. Nine of the Eagles possessions lasted just three plays, including a drive that began at the Washington 25 after a mussed punt and resulted in a David Akers field goal.

“We could do some things better at times,’’ Jackson said after the game. “We weren’t always crisp like we needed to be, but that happens. It is football, sometimes the defense is going to win and sometimes the offense is going to win. We will go back to practice this week, work hard, and hopefully next week we will put it together a little better.’’    

Next week the Eagles host the Giants, who lead them by one-half game in the NFC East and are coming off two straight losses.

After the Giants comes Dallas, San Diego and Chicago, not exactly murderers row but a far cry better than Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Oakland and Washington.

For the Eagles to get through that stretch and stay in contention in the NFC East race, the offense is going to have to become more consistent and less reliant on one big play after another.

And it might help if the other principles in this matter, open their eyes to what it happening, as Jackson did.

“Well, we did enough offensively to win the game,’’ McNabb said after lifting his head out of the sand. “There were mistakes and throws we’d like to have back but, I’m looking at the scoreboard and we won the game.’’

Yes, the Eagles won, and the only thing better than a big play is a win. Still, there are wins and there are wins. The Eagles four wins this season have come against teams with a combined record of 5-23. Their next four opponents have a combined record of 15-10.

According to head coach Andy Reid, who like his quarterback is in denial, everything is fine, a win is a win.      

“We scored 27 points,’’ Reid said. “I don’t think that’s bad. I don’t think that’s a bad night. Should we have scored a few more in the second half? Absolutely. Can we improve on things? Absolutely. We need to keep doing that. I’m going to enjoy this, though.

“I’m trying to feel like we just won a game.’’     

The Eagles won, and they did it with the big play, the home-run ball, the 3-pointer, but just like in baseball and basketball those plays aren’t always there. Reid, McNabb and Co. might find that out soon enough.