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.

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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