4 Inches Short With No Time on the Clock

Bucs must lose and the Birds must win to make playoffs

Donovan McNabb sat shotgun on the Washington 18 as the ball floated to him.

Everything looked in place for a miraculous comeback:

  • He caught the pigskin and looked up for an open receiver.
  • He released the ball on the 16th play of the drive finding Reggie Brown inches in front of the end zone.
  • Brown soared midair reaching behind him with everything in his being to haul in the rock.
  • Suddenly -- like so many obstacles in the way of the Eagles this season -- Redskins' d-back Fred Smoot imploded on Brown like a ton of bricks as the receiver stopped mid-flight.

Four inches from the end zone no time left -- the drive, the game and basically the Eagles season fell inches short.
In a year where the Eagles have soared, crashed, burned and then soared again -- where there was no definite quarterback, running back or receivers and the head coach was wanted for his, well, head -- who knew it would come to this end.
Four inches.
Brown scrambled to get the rest of the team to the line but the clock slowly tick three, two, one.
Four Inches -- all the Eagles (8-6-1) needed to gain in order to control their own destiny into the playoffs, falling just short as time expired to the hands of the Washington Redskins.
The 10-3 stinker didn't eliminate the Eagles from the playoffs just yet. They need a win next week against Dallas (9-6) at home and Tampa Bay (9-6) to lose to the visiting Oakland Raiders (4-11).
The odds are certainly not in their favor. But then again they seemed to be against Philadelphia all season.
The Eagles came into Sunday's game as the hottest team in the NFL over the last three weeks. Washington limped into the battle losers of five-of-six contests after starting the season 6-2.
After averaging 33 points over that three game streak, the Eagles seemed primed to put their soap opera of a season behind them.
It looks like they left their offense behind as well.
Despite yet another stellar defensive performance, the Eagles offense could not get anything going in the first half.
Washington's defense matched the Birds intensity holding Philadelphia to only 275 total yards of offense and allowing only three of 14 Eagles third down conversions.
McNabb was virtually ineffective going 26 of 46 for 230 yards. The rest of the offense wasn't much better until their final drive of the game. In fact they were shut out in the first half for the first time in 26 games, trailing the Redskins 3-0 at the half.

The second half was a continuation of the never-ending story.
A hampered 'Skins running back Clinton Portis scored his first touchdown in eight weeks putting the 'Skins up 10-0 with 8:46 left in the third.
The game was an exchange of punts until David Akers drilled a 22-yard field goal with just over four minutes left to play in the third.
Clinging on to a 10-3 lead, Washington went three and out and was forced to punt the ball back to the Eagles with 3:48 to play.
That's when Eagles fans all around the country came to life as the Birds stared 91-yards down field for their final flight of the evening.
In those final minutes, McNabb would lead the Eagles on their most important and perhaps most impressive drive of the season. With his career in Philly on the line, McNabb revived his wizard-like skills that magically cast the Eagles back in to the playoff race over the last three weeks completing 10 of 13 passes before coming up short to Brown on that final play.
The Eagles actually had a chance to tie it up when McNabb unloaded a beautiful 40-yard bullet to the right side of the end zone that hit off the hands of a leaping DeSean Jackson. It was the rookie's fourth dropped pass of the game.

The receivers dropped seven passes in total, including the gaffe by Jackson in the waning minutes.
McNabb seemed destined to save the Eagles season and his decade long reign in Philly but like the clock, time may have ran out for the McNabb in Philadelphia and the Eagles in 2008.

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