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December 3 Camden Courier-Post columnist Don Benevento:
“”Don’t let the guys make too much fun of you. Remember you’re the mascot, not the place-kicker.”
Hank Hill on “King of the Hill”
Acouple years ago a number of news outlets and thousands of fans made up a list by position of the best players Eagles‘ history conjunction with the 75th year anniversary of the team.
Place-kicker David Akers was mentioned on virtually all of those lists. As he played in his franchise record 184th game on Thursday night, breaking the mark of Brian Dawkins, it seemed like a good time to make the case for David Akers as the most consistent player and one of the most valuable performers ever to wear the team’s uniform.
The list of Akers’ accomplishments is long.
Begin with the fact that, going into Thursday night’s game against the Texans, Akers had been successful on 81.7 percent of his field goal attempts, and that accomplishment has made him the Eagles‘ all-time leading scorer.
“I think he has led the team in scoring every single year he’s been here,” said Eagles special teams coach Bobby April. “The guy who leads your team in scoring is obviously a pretty important guy.”
Then you can add on from there:
He has converted 93.1 percent from inside the 40, and he has missed only one of 98 career attempts from inside the 30.
December 3 Philadelphia Daily News:
“DESEAN JACKSON turned 24 on Wednesday.
No truth to the rumor that Andy Reid got Jackson the new iPhone.
Last night, with the Eagles trailing and reeling, Jackson, the biggest playmaker on Reid’s offense, needed to drop the PDA and make a play.
No tweets, no texts; the only networking Jackson needed to complete was with quarterback Michael Vick, the way Texans money man Andre Johnson just had on the Texans’ go-ahead drive.
In the old-fashioned manner, coach Reid delivered that message to Jackson after Sunday’s loss in Chicago. Forget about any contract extension; forget about pregame and postgame cybersocializing.
His 33-yard reception on the second play of the fourth quarter set up the Eagles‘ go-ahead touchdown in their 34-24 win.
Jackson ran down the numbers on the right side of the field, sped past cornerback Jason Allen, dipped left near the hash mark, and found himself pinpointed by Vick. Allen was so badly burned that safety Bernard Pollard had to come off the receiver he was covering, one-on-one, to make the tackle at the 11.
December 3 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford:
“From the very moment the final whistle sounded in Chicago on Sunday, Andy Reid made sure the Eagles knew the quick turnaround game against Houston had better be circled on their calendars in blood-red urgency.
He screamed at them in the locker room – oh, maybe some more than others – but he spread it around enough that the message was clear: Play better against Houston or you won’t like what comes next.
Well, the pep talk, and a quick three days of supercharged preparation, lasted only a little more than a quarter against the Texans on Thursday night. The Eagles romped to a ridiculously easy two-touchdown lead and then went to sleep against a team they should have easily dismissed.
It still turned out to be a win, but a win that required a fourth-quarter comeback before the Eagles got past Houston, 34-24. Once again, as they did in games against Detroit and San Francisco, the Eagles let a lesser opponent hang around far too long.
“We had to recapture the momentum and we weren’t able to do it last week, but we were able to get it done here,” Reid said afterward, choosing to see the bright spots this time.
Once again, however, the Eagles looked like a team that expects quarterback Michael Vick to bail them out when things really get tough. That has happened more than a few times this season, but it isn’t the way to try to finish the rest of the regular season, and no way to go into the playoffs. If they get that far.
December 3 Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Smallwood:
“IF YOU HAVE ever watched one of those World Series of Poker television events, you would have noticed that after each drawn card the announcers calculate the odds of each player winning the hand.
The website www. makeNFL playoffs.com uses a computer software program to do something similar, simulating the remaining games a million times and including the NFL tiebreaking procedures.
So how significant did the Eagles help their playoff chances with last night’s 34-24 victory over the Houston Texans at Lincoln Financial Field?
Well, if you like to play the odds, makeNFLplayoffs.com says the Eagles increased their chances to get into the postseason from 60.2 percent to 68.9 percent and their chance of winning the NFC East from 50.8 percent to 59.8 percent.
That doesn’t guarantee a thing, but with four games left, it helps to have as many things going for you as possible.
The game against Houston wasn’t about where the Birds had just come from – although the lingering sting of last Sunday’s loss in Chicago certainly acted as motivation.
This short-week, gut-check victory was about going forward, about setting the stage for a stretch run that could turn a season that has been surprising in so many ways into something special.
December 3 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann:
It is a unit that can rise to the occasion, but only on occasion. It is a group that can confound a quarterback as great as Peyton Manning one week and allow a hot-and-cold quarterback like Jay Cutler to get hot and stay hot another week.
The four-man pass rush can be a rampage or it can be a rumor. The secondary can be secure or it can be a sieve. Some of the problem is injuries, but only some. The issues are deeper that that.
That the defense survived in last night’s 34-24 win over the Houston Texans is plain enough. The Eagles won the game, after all. But after folding up the week before against the Chicago Bears, the defense did everything within its power to keep things insanely interesting in the third quarter against the Texans. Then, in the fourth, it rediscovered its bearings.
“One thing we always try to do is keep fighting,” safety Quintin Mikell said. “We knew this [Houston] team, every game they’ve had came down to the fourth quarter. For us to keep fighting, even when something bad happens, and keep coming back and clawing and scratching – that’s really what it’s all about.
“We’ve got a lot to work on, but I’m glad we pulled it out.”
December 3 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Paul Domowitch:
“He was the other running back in this football game. The one who wasn’t leading the league in rushing. The one who wasn’t leading the league in yards from scrimmage. The one who didn’t come out of practice-squad nowhere.
He is LeSean McCoy. He isn’t Arian Foster. And if the Houston Texans called the Eagles today and asked them if they’d have any interest in a straight-up trade after the season, coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Long would need about a half-second to consider it and tell them thanks but no thanks.
The Eagles‘ second-year running back outplayed Foster last night in the Eagles‘ 34-24 win over the Texans, just like he outplayed the Titans’ Chris Johnson and the Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs and the Falcons’ Michael Turner and the 49ers’ Frank Gore and just about every other running back the Eagles have faced this season.
Michael Vick is getting the national magazine covers and DeSean Jackson is getting all of the questions about his quest for a new contract. But the Eagles are 8-4 this morning every bit as much because of McCoy as Vick and Jackson.
For only the second time this season, McCoy recorded multiple touchdowns – one running and one receiving – in the much-needed win. He got an offense that has been pounding its head against the wall in the red zone off to a good start with scores on its first two possessions that gave the Eagles an early 14-3 lead and the confidence that they could move the ball on Houston. It was just the third time this season the Eagles have scored touchdowns on both of their first two possessions.
December 3 Philadelphia Daily News:
“ON THE 19TH DAY, the Eagles will rest.
The Birds’ run of four games in 18 days ended happily. There were some tense moments, but they managed to outlast the Houston Texans, 34-24. The Eagles are 8-4 with 9 days to get ready to go to Dallas. They won three of the four installments of their little marathon.
The difference last night, as it often has been this season, was Michael Vick. When the Eagles fell behind, 24-20, at the end of the third quarter, Vick rallied an offense that had started fast and stalled, a group that might have been getting cold standing on the sideline, watching the Texans’ offense play.
“We just did a great job of battling back,” Vick said after completing 22 of 33 passes for 302 yards, two touchdowns, an interception, and a 103.3 passer rating. He also ran 10 times for 48 yards and a TD.
“I told the guys, ‘Now’s the time to put it all together and come out and make the plays I know we can make. Let’s be efficient, let’s be smart, and win this football game.’ ”
Every now and then, a game shapes up pretty much the way everybody thought it would. The Texans’ defense is pliable. The Eagles‘ defense is better, but, once again without cornerback Asante Samuel, who rested his sprained knee, the Birds’ secondary figured to be vulnerable to a quarterback such as Matt Schaub and a potent, balanced offense such as the Texans’.
All week, a major point made in favor of the Eagles was that the Texans’ defense, ranked 28th overall, was not anything close to the Chicago defense that played Vick effectively for three quarters Sunday. Indeed, Vick reclaimed his magic.
December 3 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“Asante Samuel did not dress for Thursday night’s game against the Texans, the second straight game the Eagles cornerback was out with a sprained knee.
The NFL leader with seven interceptions was a limited participant in practice during the short week and was a game-time decision. Earlier in the day he tweeted, “I am trying to get all the treatment I can.”
But he ended up not even taking warm-ups at Lincoln Financial Field.
It is fair to assume that Samuel will return when the Eagles travel to Dallas on Dec. 12. With Samuel sidelined, Joselio Hanson started at left cornerback for the second straight week.”
December 3 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Ashley Fox:
“This seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the birthday boy happy. Get him the ball. Pad his stats. Show him some love. Make DeSean Jackson feel appreciated, like the megastar he thinks he is.
The Eagles did not do that. Not really. Even though the best Houston had to offer Thursday night was a second-year corner out of New Mexico named Glover Quin, who did not have the foot speed to match Jackson, it was as if the Eagles forgot Jackson existed for much of the game.
Given what has transpired this week, that is not a good idea.
The Eagles got the victory after losing the lead in the third quarter. By beating the Texans, 34-24, they moved to 8-4 heading into a long weekend off before regrouping for a road game at Dallas. The Eagles moved the ball most of the night; were fairly efficient on third down; scored when they got into the red zone; and survived a night when the defense, once again, couldn’t stop anybody.
But Jackson didn’t have a big game against a secondary not known for having great success against talented receivers. The first play of the game went to Jackson, with Michael Vick hitting him with a perfect pass with no Texans in sight. It went for a 30-yard gain and looked to be a precursor for Jackson’s first big performance since he caught seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown against Indianapolis on Nov. 7.
It didn’t work out that way.
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