It was a tough day to be an NFL fan from Delaware, unless you had bad parents that raised front-running fans of the Steelers and/or Cowboys. The two local teams, Baltimore and Philadelphia, dropped games to the two teams their fans hate most.
The Ravens failed to beat Pittsburgh despite the fact that they were playing at home against third-string quarterback Charlie Batch and had a 10-point second-half lead.
Meanwhile, the Eagles continued to find new ways to disappoint, blowing an 11-point lead at Dallas in primetime. The defense gave up points at a rate that made Tony Romo resemble Joe Montana and Dez Bryant look like Jerry Rice. It was difficult to watch, just like every other Eagles game for the last two months has been.
The losses obviously had drastically different meanings for the two teams.
In the big picture for the Eagles, coming up short was probably a good thing. We all know they stink and that the Andy Reid era is in its final days, but at least another loss further strengthens their chances for a top-three draft choice.
While for the Ravens, there are no silver-linings from Sunday.
Baltimore’s level of play has not matched its record in weeks. The standings may say the Ravens are 9-3, but the eye-test suggests this football team is nowhere near the upper-echelon of the NFL right now. On offense they have no identity. They cannot seem to sustain drives with their power-run game, and their aerial attack seems to stall for extended stretches.
Much of the cause for concern can be traced back to the offensive line. The holes just do not seem to be there with any kind of consistency for running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, and the pass protection is atrocious. Even still, it would be unfair to absolve quarterback Joe Flacco from any blame. The University of Delaware product continues to take unnecessary sacks by holding the ball too long in the pocket. It cost his team the game against Pittsburgh, when he was strip-sacked deep in his own territory, setting up the Steelers’ tying-touchdown in the fourth quarter.
As a five-year veteran, Flacco needs to feel the pressure on that play and get rid of the football. Instead he tried to be a hero, and paid dearly for his efforts.
Conversely, Philly’s rookie quarterback spent Sunday making good decisions. He did not turn the ball over, and finally showed off the accuracy his coaches rave about during the week in practice. Foles still has not shown much of a knack for pushing the ball down the field with his arm, but he did at least give the fans something to look forward to the rest of the season. If he displays the kind of weekly improvement he has over his first three games, Foles has a chance to be a good, productive NFL quarterback.
I’m not saying he will be, but at least he is providing a reason for Eagles fans to tune in the rest of the season.
Obviously the Ravens know what they have to look forward to. Their magic number to clinch the AFC North remains at two. Baltimore is going to be a postseason team, while Eagles fans still have to deal with the grim reality that they have celebrated a Phillies win more recently than a Birds’ triumph.
But at least for one day it was better to cheer for the Eagles. Philly fans saw it coming, and maybe caught a glimpse of what tomorrow could hold, while Ravens rooters were completely blind-sided and left hoping Sunday was not a sneak-peak at what the future holds in store for their team.