Are You Ready for Some (Really Bad) Football? Eagles-Panthers On Monday Night in Philly

Are You Ready for Some (Really Bad) Football? Eagles-Panthers On Monday Night in Philly

Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy have been ruled out for Monday
Night Football. The 2-8 Carolina Panthers are three-point favorites against the
3-7 Eagles at home.

This is as low as it gets. The action in the stands legitimately
could be more intriguing to watch unfold than anything that takes place on the
field tonight.

It will be exactly one year ago tomorrow when spectators chanted
Fire Andy, then stormed out of the
Linc during the third quarter as if the building were on fire, all while the
New England Patriots were busy embarrassing the Birds in primetime on NBC. They
played to a final score of 38-20, though most fans that purchased tickets were
not there to see much, or in some cases any, of the second half.

What was amazing about this demonstration, besides how
incredibly loud and united the jeers were, is the game was still technically
winnable at the time. Nobody in their right mind actually thought the Eagles
were suddenly going to wake up and outscore Tom Brady, just as realistic people
stopped believing Andy Reid could turn this season around a month ago – but it
was possible.

That moment was more important than anything that happened between
the two sidelines that night. By the fourth quarter, the seats were probably about
a quarter full, entire sections emptied. Angry fans streamed past souvenir
stands packed with bored-looking clerks who literally were not selling a thing.
I remember thinking at the time that it marked the end of an era, Reid’s era.

Jeffrey Lurie didn’t get the memo.

The Birds got trounced again a few days later in Seattle,
then remarkably went on a run as we all know, winning their last four games in
2011. Lurie called the wins fool’s gold during his speech at the end of the
year, but left the keys to Andy again anyway. In retrospect, you have to wonder
if the owner would have done that had the Eagles not won four in a row, had
they finished 7-9 or worse rather than 8-8 – if he essentially bought his own
fool’s gold.

At least you don’t have to wonder if he would do it again,
because this team – down to Nick Foles under center Dallas Reynolds, Bryce
Brown in the backfield, and whoever is playing left and right tackles this week
– doesn’t have that sort of run in them. Oh, they might beat the Panthers, that
is if the Panthers are truly that pathetic. Otherwise, it’s tough to envision
the Eagles stealing many more W’s.

None of which means the people are finished trying to send their
message. What will they do this time to show up Lurie on national television,
much like the way his teams have been getting shown up in the spotlight lately?
Call for Andy’s pink slip? Request Jon Gruden exits the broadcast booth? Leave
early? Never show up in the first place?

The possibilities are endless. Thankfully, this season is
not.

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.