Giant Disappointment: Mistakes Cost Eagles Another Fourth Quarter Lead

Giant Disappointment: Mistakes Cost Eagles Another Fourth Quarter Lead

What can you say after this one? The New York Giants end their six-game losing streak against Philadelphia, defeating the Eagles 29-16.

Mistakes doomed the Birds yet again. Dropped passes killed a drive and resulted in a turnover. Missed tackles extended drives, and resulted in a huge touchdown. Mental lapses and untimely penalties led to one momentum-stealing play after another. A questionable coaching decision also proved costly.

Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy -- that's been the theme for the 2011 Eagles through the first three games, and it's already cost them dearly in two of them. This team could easily be sitting pretty at 3-0. Instead they are at 1-2, and staring at an uphill climb just to get back into the playoff picture, their starting quarterback possibly out for several weeks.

For the second week in a row, Vick failed to complete a game, and this time, it looks like he could miss a considerable amount of time. Today it was a broken right hand -- his non-throwing hand -- that sidelined him in the second half. The injury appeared to occur when DT Chris Canty pushed him to the turf after the ball was thrown.

Vick did re-enter the game briefly after the injury, but eventually the decision was made to pull him permanently. Mike Kafka replaced him when the Eagles were down two, and promptly threw an interception deep down the right sideline on his very first snap.

Kafka did not look nearly as good in relief as he did last week, but he was far from the primary reason the Eagles fell short. They simply left too many plays on the field.

The Giants scored touchdowns on two big plays to go ahead 14-0 in the first quarter.

First, Casey Matthews failed to recognize a play-action pass from his new outside linebacker position, allowing RB Brandon Jacobs to slip out of the backfield unchecked for a 40-yard catch and run to go up seven.

Later, Kurt Coleman would fail to wrap up WR Victor Cruz on a simple, short out pattern. Instead of the play ending for minimal gain, Cruz escaped up the sideline, made Nnamdi Asomugha whiff on a tackle, and bounced for 74 yards to give New York a commanding 14-point lead.

The Birds managed to get back into the game, largely in thanks to LeSean McCoy, their lone bright spot on the afternoon. McCoy carried 24 times for 128 yards and a touchdown, much of that coming in the first half.

The offense was out of sync though. They were forced to settle for field goals far too often, with Alex Henery putting three though the uprights. One of the attempts came after the Eagles attempted four plays from the Giants goal line, but were somehow unable to punch any of them in the end zone.

Vick was also intercepted in the opening quarter when Steve Smith tipped a catchable ball in the air, and DeSean Jackson added a key drop on third down in the third quarter.

Yet the biggest blunder of all though may have come from the sidelines, when Andy Reid opted to go for it on fourth down in a questionable situation.

After pulling ahead by two, the Eagles were faced with 4th and 1 on New York's 43 yard line and under 12 minutes remaining. They could have punted and made the Giants drive the length of the field, but instead McCoy was stuffed in the backfield, giving Eli Manning and company a short field.

Seven plays later, Eli hooked up with Cruz again, this time out-jumping Asomugha and Jarrad Page to haul in a 24-yard touchdown passes, and give their team the lead for good. They completed a two-point conversion to go up 22-16 after a Philadelphia penalty gave them a second chance.

Following Kafka's first pick, the Giants drove again, but would have settled for three. However, penalties reared their ugly head once more, as the Eagles jumped offsides on the kick. New York would then finish their march down the field, with RB Ahmad Bradshaw taking an 18-yard screen pass to the house to seal the deal.

Again, what can you say? The natural instinct is to blast the familiar problem areas, but the issue has been with consistency moreso than individuals. Nnamdi Asomugha made poor plays on touchdown passes as much as Casey Matthews and Kurt Coleman did. DeSean Jackson and Steve Smith dropped crucial passes as much as the offensive line failed to get enough push in short yardage or Mike Kafka threw interceptions.

This is a team that, pardon the reference, is shooting itself in the foot. They're not bad. In fact, in many aspects, they look quite good. The Eagles simply aren't playing 60 minutes of quality football.

And now they are 1-2.

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

The kid finally has his first NHL goal.

Travis Konecny scored at 4:30 of the third period (see video) during the Flyers' 4-3 shootout win over Buffalo on Tuesday night (see story).  

His was the first of three power-play goals to erase a 3-0 deficit and get the Flyers into overtime.

First markers are always that much more special when they make a difference in a comeback victory, such as this one with the Flyers in a brutal stretch of six games in nine days.

“I am just excited that it happened,” Konecny said. “But the thing for me that was more exciting was coming back after that 3-0 [deficit] and an overall exciting night for us.”

The three power-play goals were a season high for the Flyers.

“We got going those two power plays ... our power plays set a tone,” Konecny said. “When that gets going, it makes it hard for the other team to stop us.

“It’s awesome because we know what they can do [on the top power-play unit]. They have been sticking with it and fighting the puck, whatever it’s been the past couple of games, but you know what they are capable of — you can see it the past couple of years. 

“You knew it was coming and tonight is the perfect night to get it going and I am sure that they are going to keep rolling with it.”

Schultz sits
The decision to sit 15-year veteran blueliner Nick Schultz to get Radko Gudas back into the lineup wasn’t easy but it made sense on several levels. Gudas had been suspended for six games.

First, Schultz doesn’t play on the power play, whereas Andrew MacDonald carries heavy minutes with the power play and penalty kill.

Brandon Manning? Not happening. He’s been the Flyers' best defenseman this season. Mark Streit? Doesn’t work because he quarterbacks the second-unit PP and is essentially teaching that duty to rookie Ivan Provorov.

“It’s real tough,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s part of the business and [Schultz has] done an excellent job. He’s always very well-prepared.

“We talked about what’s best for our team and we feel like Gudy going in, especially on a back-to-back, gives us fresh legs and a fresh body coming back into the lineup.”

Hakstol recently has had to switch around his defensive pairs to get more defensive coverage and consistency on the ice. For instance, moving Provorov from Streit to Manning.

He discounted Schultz’s age (34) as a true factor in the decision.

“I think the more flexibility you have, the better, whether it be for rest or for the injury situations,” Hakstol said. “First and foremost, I think we’re still looking for the true consistency that we need through our entire team, but certainly your D pairs are a big part of that. 

“Before we start getting to a comfort level of guys playing with different people, first we have to find true consistency. We’ve been pretty good, but we’ve had stretches where the consistency needs to improve, as well.”

Give and Go: Predicting Sixers' MVP, win total and more for 2016-17

Give and Go: Predicting Sixers' MVP, win total and more for 2016-17

The Sixers officially get back to work Wednesday night in their regular-season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder (see game notes).

Before tip-off, Sixers insider Jessica Camerato, producer/reporter Matt Haughton and producer/reporter Paul Hudrick run the Give and Go to break down some burning questions surrounding the team.

What is the one stat that will most define the Sixers' season?

Turnovers: The Sixers want to build a defensive identity and understandably so — they ranked last in the league in rebounds with a minus-518 differential and were outscored by a last-placed 10.2 points per game. That being said, I am looking at turnovers this season. Last season, they were prone to throwing away points with errors. They ranked 29th (second to the Suns) with 16.6 turnovers per game. The team is down two ball handlers in Jerryd Bayless and Ben Simmons (both injured), which heightens the challenge. In order for the Sixers to get into any type of rhythm and build an offensive flow, they have to actually maintain possession.

It's got to be defense. Brett Brown is banking on Joel Embiid being the centerpiece to the team's defense, and he better be for the head coach's sake. Embiid also better get some help from the guys around him on that end of the floor or it will be another year-long parade of bad rotations, easy buckets at the rim and wide-open jumpers. In Brown's three years as Sixers head coach, the team has ranked 29th, 20th and 30th in opponents' points per game. That has to change if the Sixers want to take the next step in their rebuild.

With an abundance of big men and Simmons eventually taking the court as the team's main facilitator, the Sixers need players that can shoot. Last season, they took the eighth-most three-point attempts in the NBA while finishing 24th in three-point percentage. That second number has to go up if the Sixers ever want to create floor space.

Who will be the Sixers' MVP?

Embiid: The towering 7-foot-2 presence is going to be the dominating force on both ends. Brown intends for Embiid to become the “crown jewel” of the defense and the offense to go through Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, whose role is restricted (knee). Embiid has shown in a small sampling of preseason games he is capable of leading the team on all sides of the floor.

Of course the answer is Embiid, but let's go another route and say Brown. The coach got an extension last season and also received a boost in roster talent. Now he just has to figure out how the pieces fit together. That didn't go so well with Okafor and Nerlens Noel a season ago, but playing those two together was essentially the only intriguing thing about the Sixers in 2015-16, which is why Brown stuck with the pairing. With better players to mix and match this time around, I believe Brown will figure out some solid options to have the squad in better position to compete on a nightly basis.

The easy pick is Embiid, but I'm going a little outside the box with Dario Saric. The 22-year-old Croatian showed off the versatility of his game during the preseason. He's an old school player that excels in the team game. He's what's often referred to as a "glue guy." He has skill, but the skills he lacks he makes up for with grit and basketball savvy.

What is your season projection for the Sixers?

This season was supposed to be a bridge year, the start of rebuilding. That will be delayed until the team is healthy with key players like Simmons, Okafor and Noel back at 100 percent. In the meantime, the Sixers' outlook is better than last season’s 10-win total but less than earlier projections with Simmons in the lineup. Because of injuries, I am shifting their win projection to 19.

The injury bug, starting with No. 1 overall pick Simmons, has certainly put a damper on the Sixers' projected win total. Las Vegas odds books originally set the mark at 27½, which seemed like a long shot even with a full roster. I say they show strides but fall just shy of doubling last season's win total and finish with 19.

This really depends on the return of Simmons. Simmons will make this team so much better on both ends of the floor. Bayless' absence early will hurt this team as well. And don't forget about all the minutes restrictions. They're going to struggle early on, but if Simmons returns in January, I think this team can double its win total from last season and win 20 games.