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The Setup
Cards had beaten Oakland on the road to go 5 & 1. Philly was coming off a Bye week after shutting out the Giants 27 - 0 and also had a record of 5 & 1. Both teams were considered surprise early playoff contenders.
In several ways it was a "reunion" game with the Cardinals' LB Sam Acho facing off against brother, Emmanuel, a LB. Cardinal HC Bruce Arians and DC Todd Bowles coached at Temple. Arians has roots in York, PA. Cardinal GM Steve Keim hails from Harrisburg, PA. And, on the Philly side of the field up in the press box, you'd find former Cardinal defensive coach, Billy Davis calling the defensive shots for the Eagles. The game definitely had a "Christmas" flavor with too many fans in green Eagles' garb mixed in with those wearing Cardinal-red.

The Lede
Cards Over Iggles in "Flag Football" "Squeaker."

The Bottom Line:
"Flag football because it was a penalty-ridden contest. It featured big plays and went right down to the very last play of the game when Jordan Matthews went up and caught a pass in the deep left corner of the end zone only to be hit in mid-air by Rashad Johnson and landed out of bounds. The Cardinals came from behind late in the fourth quarter to score on a bomb from Palmer to John Brown (aka "The Smokester") and then hung tough to edge the Eagles 24 - 20.

Game Recap
It was a see-saw affair with the Eagles taking an early lead, sacrificing it to the Cards early in the 3rd quarter, regaining it late in the fourth quarter only to lose it with just under 2:00 left in the game.

Jeremy Maclin outdueled Peterson(& Peterson's replacement) in the "WR vs. CB" mini-contest. In the Battle of the RB's, Shady McCoy outplayed Andre Ellington (but not by much). "Old Man" Fitzgerald scored on a long tide-turning TD reception and Young Master (John) Brown made a strong case for small college athletics with a couple of sensational catches (including the 75-Yard game winner)

1st Quarter
  • Philly received. TB on the KO. Cards held them to 3 & out. Ginn returned the punt to the Cardinal 23. Palmer mixed runs by Ellington and short passes to a variety of receivers on a 10 play 6-penalty (3 each by both teams) drive that ended with a Drew Butler punt from the Eagle 35. TB on the punt. Foles took the Eagles to the Cardinal 21 where he hit Maclin short-right and the Philly WR took advantage of a devestating edge-block by OT Lane Johnson and motored 21-yards for for the opening TD. Other key plays of the 9-play drive were a 23-yard completion to Matthews and a roughing the passer penalty on Acho. Philly 7 - Cards 0.

  • TB on the punt. Cards moved to the Philly 14 in 10 plays to end the quarter. 1st Quarter Score: Philly 7 - Cards 0.

2nd Quarter
  • After Palmer hit Fitz for +13, Ellington ran up the middle for a one-yard TD to tie it up Other key plays - a 30 yard completion deep-right to Fitz. Philly 7 - Cards 7.

  • KO was returned to the Philly 21. Foles moved the Philly offense to the Cardinal 19 in 8 plays. Cards dodged a bullet when Huff (who caught a 12-yard pass from Foles) fumbled. It was recovered by Bucannon at the Cardinal 2. A 25-yarder to Brown combined with a roughing the passer penalty on Philly moved us to our own 48, where the drive fizzled and Butler's punt was downed at the Eagle 15. A penalty pinned the Eagles back at their own 10, but a 50-yard completion to Cooper with a roughing the passer penalty tacked on moved the Eagles to the Cardinal 25. On the very next play, another bullet was dodged when Foles' pass for Huff was intercepted by Cromartie and returned to the Cardinal 38. Another holding penalty contribute to a Cardinal 3 & out. Butler's punt was fair caught at the Philly 19. (5:50 till the half).

  • On the first play of the Eagle possession, Bucannon and Peterson made a "sandwich" of Maclin to break up a pass and collided. Peterson (concussion) was out for the rest of the game. Maclin (bleeding ear) returned in the second half. Eagles couldn't get much going and Jones' punt - net a holding penalty - gave the Cards the ball on their own 21. A 21-yard run by Ellington broke up what was otherwise an ineffective Cardinal possession and Butler's punt was fair caught at the Philly 11 with 1:48 on the clock. (We were now at a point where we usually give up 7 - 10 points late in the first half). This time, we limited Foles to a series of short gains and time finally ran out with a Philly punt from the Card 44.

First Half Score: Philly 7 - Cards 7.

3rd Quarter
  • We received. TB on the KO. On the third play from scrimmage, Palmer hit Fitz out of the slot with a short pass to the right, and #11 took it straight up field, outrunning the Eagle secondary en route to an 80-yard TD to take the lead. Cardinals 14 - Eagles 7.

  • TB on the KO. Foles dinked and dunked the Philly offense to midfield where Jones punted into the end zone. Cards went 3 & out and Butler's punt was returned to the Philly 44. The Eagles managed to move to the Cardinal 36 where they settled for a 54-yard Parkey FG to narrow the score to Cardinals 14 - Philly 10..

  • TB on the KO. A holding call contributed to another Cardinal 3 & out. Punt was returned to the Eagle 49. For one of the few times in the game - we held Philly to 3 & out. Ginn's return was out of bounds at the Cardinal 14. Cards (undermineded by a substitution penalty) went 3 & out yet again. Butler's punt was fair-caught at the Eagle 46. On the first play of the Eagle possession, Foles hit Maclin down the deep sideline for a 54-yard TD. (Powers - who was in for the injured Peterson - simply couldn't keep up). Philly 17 - Cards 14.

  • TB on the KO. On the 4th play from scrimmage, Ellington circled left end and was cold-cocked by Nate Allen. He gave up the football and (after lengthy review) the refs gave Philly the ball at the Card 48. (Yikes)! Quarter ended two plays later; Eagles ball on the Cardinal 45.

Third Quarter Score: Philly 17 - Cardinals 14.

4th Quarter
  • Cards held Philly to 3 & out. Punt was downed at the Cardinal 3 and Palmer (plagued by lousy field position) went 3 & out. Butler's punt was fair caught at the Philly 42. On the fourth play of the Eagle possession, Foles' pass for Cooper was intercepted by Cromartie and returned to the Philly 40. Plenty of time (12:40) on the clock. Palmer and his offense scratched their way to the Eagle 10, where the drive ended and Catanzaro broke the rookie record for consecutive FG's with a game-tying 28-yarder. Cardinals 17 - Philly 17.

  • 9:01 left. TB on the KO. Philly then want on a 13-play "ground chuck" march (featuring 5 consecutive Eagle running plays), that, at times, seemed unstoppable but wound up with the Cardinal defense hanging tough, stoning McCoy at the Cardinal two-yard line and forcing Kelly to settle on a 20-yard FG with 1:56 left on the clock to give the Eagles a 3-point lead (Key mistake). Philly 20 - Cards 17.

  • With our offense finding it tough to get anything going, the remaining 1:56 looked like a tiny hiccup in game clock of time. TB on the KO. On 3rd & 5 at our own 25-yard line (and 1:33 on the clock) Palmer reached back and threw a 75 yard bomb that was caught by the Smokesteron the dead-run for a very improbable game-winning touchdown. Cards 24 - Philly 20.

  • TB on the KO. Plenty of time (1:21) left. Eagles needed to score a TD (a FG wouldn't do it). They ran off 13 plays before running out of time at the Cardinal 10 yard line. The final pass attempt was ruled incomplete when Rashad Johnson hit Matthews in mid-air in the deep far right corner of the end zone and forced him to land out of bounds. Game over.

Final Score: Cardinals 24 - Eagles 20.

Game Stats.

  • Passing Efficiency: Palmer went 20 for 42 for 329 yards and 2 TD's. He threw no interceptions. (Foles threw 62 times, completing 36 for 2 TD's but gave up 2 interceptions).

  • Run Game: Ellington was the sole Cardinal ball carrier and gained 71 yards on 23 carries. (Cards held McCoy to 83 yards on 21 carries).

  • Receiving: Fitz led all Card receivers with 7 catches for 160 yards and a TD. John Brown was next with 5 catches for 119 yards and a TD.
  • Defense: Eagles racked up 521 net yards (110 on the ground and 411 thru the air).

  • Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: Runs: 23/Passes: 42.

  • Sacks: No sacks by either side.

  • Leading Cardinal Tacklers: Cardinal safeties had most of the fun - Jefferson led all Cardinal tacklers with 12 followed by fellow safety Johnson with 11 and third ("dime") safety Buccanon with 8.

  • Field Goals: Catanzaro was one-for-one and broke Zuerlein's rookie record of 15 for 15 when he kicked a 28-yarder late in the game.

  • Turnover Ratio: +2. (Cards recovered one fumble and picked off two passes. Ellington coughed up what was only the 5th Cardinal give-away so far this season. Palmer once again, was "interception-free").

  • Penalties: 10 for 93 yards (Eagles were flagged 11 times for 103). It slowed up the game tremendously - 3 hrs- & 30 min in regulation

  • 3rd Down Efficiency: 41% (7 for 17). Eagles had a similar number with 45% (9 for 20).

  • Time of Possession: Us - 28:50/Them: 31:10.

Bright Spots

  • No picks (again) by Palmer

  • Fitz (7 receptions) was more involved in the offense.

  • Palmer didn't get sacked (although he did get thumped a few times).

  • "The Cat" is now 16 for 16.

  • Our run defense held McCoy below 100.

  • Our safeties were the heros of the defense this time - T-Jeff, Johnson, Bucannon and the Badger combining for 35 tackles and limiting their TE's Ertz and Celek to a combined 7 catches (Seven may seem like a lot of catches, but it could have been worse).

  • Cromartie (even after Peterson left the game) kept his side of the field nailed down and earned his keep with 2 picks.

  • We beat a very good Eagle team and made a strong case for being rated right up there with the top ones.

    Calais Campbell returned, played well enough in rotation and didn't seem to suffer any ill-effects from his knee. Tyrann Matthieu seems to be right on track to regain last season's mojo.

    We're one game closer to 11 wins and one game farther away from 6 losses.

The Dark Side

  • Can Ellington, as our feature-RB continue to take a pounding?

  • Floyd and Carlson are losing a majority of jump-ball battles.

  • Running plays and screens to our left were noticeably more productive than when we ran (or passed) to our right

  • Our secondary (mostly the corners) let Foles tack up 329 passing yards. Perhaps it's unfair to judge Patrick Peterson without factoring in his consistent matchups with the other team's premier receiver), but he sure gets beat a lot. Jeremy Maclin caught 12 passes for 187 yards against Peterson (& his replacement, Jerraud Powers)

  • Peterson didn't pass his concussion-protocol during the game. Concussions are tricky things, so for now it's tough to predict whether Patrick will be ready for Dallas next week.

  • Philly's RB's ran the ball right down our throats on what could have been the winning Eagle scoring drive on its second-to-last possession. (They ran the ball 9 - out of 13- times during that 80-yard, 7:05 march).

Last Word:
We entered the game wondering whether - after that loss to Denver a couple of weeks ago - we were good enough to hang with the big dawgs. Setting aside for a moment the importance of the "W" in and of itself, it seemed to me that we physically played the Eagles pretty close to "even" in all aspects of play (important when you're trying to determine whether the Cards are a legitimate contender). But there are still a couple of lingering questions about our team's mental toughness (i.e. we still get penalized too much and make too many coverage mistakes). The grit we demonstrated late in Sunday's game - from the goal-line stand to the perfect execution of the 75-yard Palmer-to-Brown bomb - goes a long way toward answering that question.

Next week we play at Dallas - They have the #1 RB in pro football, a TE named Whitten, an underrated defense and a QB (Romo) who, when he's hot (& healthy), can "light it up." Cardinal players no doubt will have to deal with (what for them) is an abnormally high amount of media hype and distraction between games. Their challenge will be to "live in the film room", "keep their head in the playbook and utilize every available minute to prepare for Opponent #8 (who just happen to be the Dallas Cowboys). Nose to the grindstone, guys.

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012