Each week we'll take a look at the decisive play that proved to be the difference between winning and losing.
We're not sure there's one play we could point to as the culprit for the debacle in Arizona Sunday -- it was a group effort from top to bottom, start to finish. But if I'm forced to have to choose I'd go with quarterback Michael Vick's fumble on the Eagles' third drive, a play that served as a microcosm of the afternoon and the season.
Facing a 2nd and 8 from the Cardinals' 36-yard line early in the second quarter, Vick rolled left, then came back to his right before decided to run. He was taken down after a one-yard gain -- fumbling in the process. The Cards, already leading 10-0 at that point, recovered. And while they didn't score on that drive, they changed the field position and would add 14 points before the half to lead 24-0. By then it was over.
Afterward, we heard the speeches from both Vick and coach Andy Reid that could've very easily been delivered after Week 1 or Week 2. “I just know that we have to play better and that starts with me,” Vick said. “We just have to go back to the drawing board and figure it out.”
“Listen, they played better than we did, clearly better,” Reid added. “They coached better and they played better. That is my responsibility. I didn’t have my football team ready to play, and they did.”
By the time it was over the Eagles lost by three touchdowns, Vick was 17 of 37 (hey, no interceptions ... but Philly lost three fumbles), and the offensive line allowed five sacks. We mentioned it last week, but "the sky is falling, the season is doomed" rumblings could've come at any point this month. If not for a couple lucky breaks, the Eagles could've been staring 0-2 in the face heading into the Cardinals game.
Adding insult to injury: for the first time … well, ever, Kevin Kolb looked like a legit NFL quarterback. He finished 17 of 24 for 222 yards and two touchdowns and didn't throw a pick and for the first time since arriving in Arizona, he got the chance to field questions about another quarterback's struggles.
"He's a warrior," Kolb said of Vick according to CSNPhilly.com. "He gets banged up out there. I couldn't help but grimace for him a couple of times. But that's just his style of play. He knows that. We know that. That's part of it."
So now what? Not much has changed, really. The Eagles are the same team Monday morning that they were Saturday night: an inconsistent group -- especially on offense -- that got lucky against the Browns and Ravens. The result against the Cardinals was probably more indicative of how they've played this season but the upside is that there's time to fix this. The problem: we shouldn't be having this conversation every week.
“I don’t know too many teams that we can beat playing like that,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “We’ve overcome some things the last few games, but we can't keep playing like that.”
No, no you can't.