Collapses, Meltdowns, and Choke Jobs: 2011 Eagles Roll On

Collapses, Meltdowns, and Choke Jobs: 2011 Eagles Roll On

Copy and paste the last two recaps, and just change the names of the opponent and players, because it's the same story. The Eagles blew a fourth quarter lead for the third week in a row, this time after going ahead by as much as 20 points, and lose to the San Francisco 49ers 24-23, dropping Philadelphia to 1-3 for the season.

As much as the defense is responsible for coughing up yet another game, once again the Birds failed themselves in every phase of the action. Alex Henery missed two field goals, either of which would have created a slight cushion on the scoreboard, and Jeremy Maclin fumbled the football as the offense was driving late in the game, destroying any hopes of a comeback.

There were few brightspots in this one.

Michael Vick survived for an entire 60 minutes, setting a career mark with 416 yards passing. He was much more efficient in general than he has been in recent weeks, finishing 30-for-46 with two touchdowns and one interception. He also carried eight times for 75 yards, and added another trademark moment to his highlight reel on the TD pass to Clay Harbor in the first quarter that made it a 7-3 game.

DeSean Jackson added six receptions for 171 yards, though there was another big drop.

Jason Babin had himself a day on the other side of the ball, sacking QB Alex Smith three times. He made one of the key plays late in the second quarter, stripping Smith and giving the Eagles excellent field position, which they would capitalize on with a shovel pass to LeSean McCoy to take a 20-3 halftime lead into the locker room.

The Eagles also blocked a David Akers field goal attempt in the third quarter, which they converted into three of their own, growing the score to its widest margin at 23-3.

And that's right about where the fun ends.

Twice Eagles drives stalled during the fourth quarter in part because of holding penalties. When Henery was called upon in both instances, he botched attempts of 39 and 33 yards. Two fumbles also proved costly -- Ronnie Brown's bizarre lateral at the goal line, and DE Justin Smith's strip of Maclin from behind, which was the final nail in the coffin.

The defense didn't have any answers either. RB Frank Gore got it going during the second half, finishing with 127 yards on 15 carries and putting six on the scoreboard. Jamar Chaney couldn't keep up with TE Vernon Davis on another Frisco scoring play, a consistent issue for this unit going all the way back to the merger it seems. And Juan Castillo dialed up an ill-timed blitz that left a wide-open WR Josh Morgan waltz into the end zone.

Frankly, I'm tired of tapping away about the same issues week after week. Four quarters. 60 minutes. Sloppy. Inconsistent. It's all of that, but at some point, it's more.

The 49ers are not that good, and the Eagles clearly have more talent -- just like they arguably have more talent than either the Falcons or Giants. The difference at the moment, as far as I can tell, is those are better teams.

Right now, much as it pains me to admit it, the Eagles aren't any better than the 49ers -- or anybody else. The only positive is there is still time to turn the ship around, but we're starting to run out of evidence that they can or will.

Temple's Brown returns to form, but defensive lapse costly in loss

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Temple's Brown returns to form, but defensive lapse costly in loss

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Josh Brown began looking like his old self on Wednesday night.

Temple’s senior guard missed the Owls' first six games while recovering from surgery he had on his Achilles tendon in May. He returned to the court one week ago in the Owls’ win at St. Joe’s. 

Brown showed some signs of rust in his first two games. He had four points and an assist against the Hawks in 14 minutes of action. On Saturday against Penn, Brown played 11 minutes and scored five points.

In Wednesday’s 66-63 loss to George Washington at the Liacouras Center, Brown played a season-high 24 minutes. He scored 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting and added one assist and made some key plays for the Owls down the stretch in the close loss (see Instant Replay).

“He played great,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “He didn’t play great against Penn. Tonight, he was ready to go. He did some really good things for us. It’s nice to have. It’s a nice comfort.”

Brown helped Temple close a large deficit late in the game. He hit a three-point shot from the corner on the fast break with 5:28 left to bring the Owls within three. He hit another three-point shot at the top of the key with 2:44 left to bring Temple within six. 

Less than a minute later, he assisted on a Daniel Dingle three, which made the score 61-58. On Temple’s next defensive possession, Brown grabbed a rebound before Dingle hit another three on the other end of the court to tie the game at 61 with 1:31 left.

With the Owls trailing by three on the game’s final possession, Brown almost drew a foul behind the three-point line before finding Dingle for another open look that hit the back of the rim.

“When I was out there, I was just trying to be in the moment, be in the now,” Brown said. “That’s what I was doing. I wasn’t thinking about anything else. When you do that, you’re focused, and when the shot comes, your preparation takes over.”

Despite his clutch play on the offensive end, Brown was critical of a mental lapse on defense during the game’s most crucial moment. After playing tight defense for almost all of the shot clock, Brown let George Washington forward Tyler Cavanaugh slip to the corner and put up a three-point shot with one second on the shot clock.

Cavanaugh’s three-point attempt with 8.2 seconds left in the game proved to be the game-winner on Wednesday night.

“I lost focus for a little bit,” Brown said. “I helped off for a slight second and that’s all he needed. I give props to that guy for hitting a tough shot, but I could’ve just stayed and not even helped.”

Wednesday’s loss ended a five-game winning streak for Temple, now 6-3 on the season. With defenses focusing on junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who scored 12 points against the Colonials, Brown will be looked at to steady the Owls' offense.

Brown was the only Temple player besides Enechionyia to score more than one basket in the first half as the Owls went into the break trailing 31-25.

“Him being out there, he adds intensity to the game,” Dingle said. “When he goes in the game, the energy goes up. Defensively and offensively he’s a general out there.”

Penn State blasted at home by red-hot George Mason

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Penn State blasted at home by red-hot George Mason

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The cheers reverberating from George Mason's locker room came from players experiencing their hottest streak in years. The quiet from Penn State's mirrored the whimper of the Nittany Lions in the second half as their run was snapped.

Marquise Moore scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Otis Livingston added 18 points and the Patriots beat Penn State 85-66 for their sixth straight win and best stretch since 2011-12 on Wednesday.

"It was a great win for our team, really proud of our guys," George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. "We really, really competed with toughness in the second half, especially I think our second-half defense was really good."

Jalen Jenkins added 15 points for the Patriots (7-3) who snapped Penn State's four-game winning streak.

Penn State led 38-37 after a wild first half that featured 12 lead changes. But the Raiders took control starting with Livingston's 3-pointer that made it 42-40 early in the second. They dominated from there, leading for the remaining 18:58 and outrebounded the Nittany Lions 44-29, outscored them 44-16 in the paint and held a speedy Penn State team to just two fastbreak points.

"We looked young tonight for whatever reason," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We have to figure that out. We have to play much harder."

Payton Banks led Penn State (6-4) with 21 points. Shep Garner and Lamar Stevens chipped in 13 apiece for the Nittany Lions.

The big picture
George Mason: The Patriots are on a roll and keeping pace in a competitive Atlantic 10 conference that had five teams with six wins entering the night. They seem to have flipped a switch following a 93-65 loss to Houston on Nov. 21 and haven't lost since.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions had been winning despite deficiencies in a few areas while making up for them in others over the last four games. They weren't able to make up for their lack of production in the paint, however.

Guards on the glass
Paulsen was wary of the size advantage Penn State's forwards had heading in. The Patriots didn't start anyone over 6-foot-7 while Penn State boasted a trio of forwards at or taller than that. Paulsen was particularly concerned about 6-foot-9 Mike Watkins who was fresh off his best game where he blocked 12 shots against Wright State.

But the George Mason coach had faith in his guards' ability to attack the net and win those rebounds. Moore entered the game as the country's top rebounding guard with 10 per game and posted his sixth double-double of the season.

"We have some pretty good rebounding guards," Paulsen said. "So you can't do it unless you have really active, rebounding guards."

Veteran responsibility
Penn State's gotten big time contributions from a handful of freshmen and started three as usual. But it was one of the veterans who shouldered blame afterward.

Banks was dejected after the game and pointed the finger at himself. Despite leading the team in points, he wasn't able to help on the glass.

"A lot of it just starts with me right here," Banks said. "I had zero rebounds. We can't rely on Lamar (Miller) and Mike for the scoring load and Julian (Moore). Our guards have to rebound and that's what we lacked this game and it definitely showed on the scoreboard."

Up next
George Mason plays at Penn on Saturday and has three of their final five games in 2016 at home.

Penn State plays Pittsburgh in Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday and has another on the road before closing out 2016 with a pair of games at home, including the Big Ten opener on Dec. 27.