Six Pack of Observations: Eagles at Giants

Here are six quick-hit thoughts on the Eagles’ 23-11 divisional round playoff victory over the Giants.

1. Don’t be shocked – the writing was on the wall for the Giants.
There’s no question that this was an upset; No. 1 seeds rarely fall in the divisional round, although ironically both the Giants and Titans did just that this weekend. But while this was considered an upset, an Eagle victory was hardly shocking. The Giants haven’t played a complete game since beating the Redskins in Week 13, the absence of Plaxico Burress severely hurt Eli Manning and the passing game over the past month, and the Eagles were just flat out a bad matchup for Big Blue. Throw in the fact that Philly beat the Giants in East Rutherford in Week 14 and this upset was in the making as soon as the Eagles knocked off the Vikings last Sunday.

2. Plaxico Burress’s selfishness cost his team in the end.
I don’t care what the players or coaches say – not having Burress killed the Giants’ passing game and destroyed their overall offensive balance. New York was able to move the ball effectively on the ground against the Eagles but when it came down to the Giants making a play in the passing game, they couldn’t. Obviously a lot of that falls on Eli Manning’s shoulders, but it’s hard to make plays when your receivers can’t get create separation with the defenders. Burress cost his team dearly because he didn’t care enough about his teammates or his profession to not carry a loaded weapon into a club. The Giants should part ways with this selfish idiot in the offseason and rid themselves of this massive distraction.

3. Confidence is a scary thing.
The Eagles have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL this season but when they play with confidence and momentum, they’re hard to beat. They’ve always been one of those teams (like the Ravens and Steelers) that have played with swagger. And when their opponents can’t mount up and punch them in the mouth right out of the gates, the Eagles gain confidence throughout the course of the game. That’s what happened today. The Giants held the ball longer, gained more total yards and had fewer penalties than the Eagles. But they never took control of the game and you just had the feeling that once the Eagles built a two-possession lead, the Giants wouldn’t recover. And they didn’t.

4. Donovan McNabb finally has another playmaker.
In both of their playoff wins, rookie DeSean Jackson has made big plays. Last week he had a huge punt return to set the Eagles up with great field position against the Vikings and today, his 48-yard reception essentially put the final dagger in the backs of the Giants. With a little more maturity, Jackson could develop into one of the best playmakers in the NFL. For now, he’s been an outstanding addition to the Eagles’ offense and he’s making up for the lack of postseason production by Brian Westbrook. There’s no doubt McNabb loves what Jackson has brought to the table and the veteran QB finally has weapon in the passing game again.

5. Stop it with the respect card.
I love Brian Dawkins. Love him. I think he has easily been one of the best safeties over the past decade and his leadership is unrivaled. But his on-field interview at the end of the game where he cried (literally) about the Eagles not getting any respect was ridiculous. The “respect card” is a tired act in sports and players need to stop using that as their go-to after games. No Brian, not everyone in the free world thought the Eagles could beat the defending Super Bowl champs on their home field. (Although for the record, I did.) Get over it.

6. Gary Myers screwed the Giants.
Local columnists should learn to play things a little more conservatively after Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Gary Myers of the New York Daily News jinxed their teams this postseason. Bradley predicted a Falcon win before their Wild Card game last Saturday in Arizona and earlier this week, Myers so boastfully claimed that there was no way the Eagles would beat the Giants on Sunday. Word to the wise for Philly and Arizona newspaper columnists – stay away from predictions next week.

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