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The Last Row

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GAME TIME 1:00

 

GAME TEMP 82

 

VERSUS  Niners

 

 

Those of you who saw Philly beat Atlanta last Monday probably don’t know this, but the Eagles lost last week, to the Falcons. We would have much rather had the Eagles win and the Phillies lose to the Braves, but them’s the breaks. If you read our other column, ‘Games to Watch’ you know we thought the Eagles would likely lose last week. Even though we feed on self-congratulation like a vampire feeds on hemoglobin, we still hate it when we are ‘right’ about an Eagles loss.

 

The Falcons fans were loud and rowdy and the Eagles were unfocused, with McNabb playing a very uncharacteristic game. Never-mind the turnovers, those were killers, but he forced the ball to Owens 19 times. 19!! That is not what got the Eagles their success the past few years. The Falcons have a very good defense, and they won the day, but not all of their games will be in that dome. By the way, there’s an interesting tidbit about the scheduling of that game we heard, check it out in our ‘Final Thoughts’ section.

 

Anyway, some Eagles fans were forecasting Doom and Gloom, saying the team wouldn’t even make it to the NFC Championship Game. That’s what passes for Doom and Gloom around here. People seem to forget a few years ago when we struggled to get to .500. So, there was some more trepidation than usual for this game, despite the fact that the Eagles were playing the Niners, a team we considered inferior. Like good Eagles fans, we took this trepidation, turned it into anger, let it simmer and made it a real anger soufflé. We made it a soufflé because we were playing the Niners. If we were playing Detroit, Dallas or some other town like that, we would have made a steak or something…But it’s San Fran – Hate Soufflé it is.

 

The game was at One O’clock, which is very nice, an early day. Four O’clock games are rough; they really are a long day. You don’t get to the tailgate much later than you do for a 1 PM game, but you stay a lot longer. With 4 PM games, you also miss at least half of the Sunday Night game. Late games are the curse of a good team, and we don’t have many early games after October.

 

The weather had been very humid the days previously, but finally broke the day of the game, which was really nice. The temperature, as noted above was 82 degrees, which is a nice day – but a little too hot for football, especially where we sit, which is about 7 miles from the Sun, itself. Walls got sunburned on his face, he’ll never learn.

 

We got to the tailgate location, near the Phillies stadium a little before 10 AM. Our fellow tailgaters straggled in, with about 10 of us there by 11 AM. For food, we had the usual suspects – for those of you who haven’t read our articles before, you can count on certain things at our tailgates -  Hamburgers, bratwurst, sausages, hot dogs; certainly nothing exotic. The sausages were hot, though – damn hot. You could see the humongous pepper seeds right inside the meat. Man, they were good. We stepped it up a bit on the beer side; we went with Miller Lite, instead of our mainstay, Natty Lite. We’re classy like that.

 

We headed into the game around 12:15. As you may remember, The Last Row discovered the joys of escalators a little after the mid point last year. Escalators beat stairs, take it from us. We got to our seats after the National Anthem and as the teams were being announced.  We didn’t quite make it up to our seats for the jet fly-by, but let us tell ya, it sounded like the entire stadium was coming down around our ears. Fun stuff.

 

Honestly, what can you really say about a game where the Eagles dominated from the opening drive until the final gun?  San Francisco was out manned, out classed, and out gunned.

 

The Eagles offense was hitting on more than all six cylinders.  In fact, they removed the engine about halfway thru the game, so they could add one of those Lamborghini 12 cylinders.  McNabb had a great day, even wearing extra padding for his bruised sternum – which he got on a pretty cheap shot from a guy named Chad on the Falcons the week before.  Donny Mac ended

up with 5 throwing TDs and generally made the Niners look silly all day.  Well, not all day, because the Eagles had to employ the “Mercy Rule” and throw in the second string about ½ way through the 3rd quarter.  (No misprint – you read that right – ½ through the THIRD quarter.)  Heck, even the 3rd string got into the action about mid-way through the final quarter.

 

During the player announcements, T.O. didn’t receive the amount of applause which he had gotten in the past year, but it wasn’t hostile or bitter – it was sincere, just not as maniacal as it had been in the past.  But that didn’t last long.  As soon as people saw the first deep ball to a sprinting Owens, all the old familiar cheers rang out just as loudly as ever.  Philly fans are a lot of things; angry, passionate, vicious, frequently inebriated, slightly overweight, and stubborn – but one thing they aren’t - is stupid when it comes to football matters.  The Last Row, and every other fan in the stadium, knows that while the Eagles could be successful without T.O., our chances are a whole heck-of-a-lot better with him on the field for us.  Sure, during the off season, fans had some choice words for T.O. due to some of the shenanigans he and his agent pulled – but this is the real season now, kids, and anything that will help us win a Super Bowl is cheered and applauded.

 

The Eagles run game still doesn’t look nearly good enough at this point to win it all, but they made some strides in the right direction.  Getting Westbrook the ball on swing passes is still effective, and the addition of Lamar Gordon running inside gives the Eagles a little more power up the middle.  While Gordon’s runs weren’t stellar, they were decent considering the guy didn’t even pick up the playbook but 2-weeks earlier.

 

The defense looked like it has for the past few years – hard hitting, still susceptible to the run at times, and great play by the secondary.  If the Eagles don’t have the best secondary in the NFL right now, they sure aren’t far behind.  And trust us, we aren’t basing that solely on a game against a poor Niners offense – you can just see it in the way they cover, close on the ball, and dole out punishment like beef barley at the soup kitchen.  Dawkins got the defense rolling with his first interception of the year, and everybody else chipped in, too.  Oh yeah… note to Jeremiah Trotter: The run defense is better with you actually IN the game, rather than getting tossed for fighting before the game.

 

The only black spot on the game was David Akers missing his 3rd field goal attempt in a row this season.  This really is getting to be a point of concern for the Eagles and their fans.  Akers is the #2 man in NFL accuracy all time coming into the 2005 season, and to see him miss 3 in a row makes you think there is some serious physical or mental problem weighing heavy on this guy.  Hopefully he gets it all worked out and gets back to the guy we know

we can count on in the stretch.  (But, just in case he can’t snap back, we can always have Linebacker Mark Simoneau take over the placekicking duties and Long-Snapper Mike Bartrum handle kick off duties, right?  I mean it worked against San Fran, right??) J

 

Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love…B****

Frank Gore got nailed a couple times by Brian Dawkins in the second quarter. Dawkins has been a man on fire the first two games and he really nailed Gore good twice with solid, hard hits. Dawkins is a great safety, he and Ed Reed really are 1 and 1a as far as talent at the safety position goes. A great player, in the perfect system. Mr. Gore, we know the U of Miami pays well, but you earn your money in the NFL.

 

Final Thoughts from the Last Row

 

Mr. Brownstone is now 89 years old. As you are probably unaware – Mr. Brownstone is how we refer to the mind-bendingly excruciating string of pro sports seasons Philadelphia has been without a major sport championship…Sorry Preppies, Lacrosse doesn’t count. It has been 89 sporting seasons since our fair city won a championship, the Sixers in 1983. Lots has changed since then, heck in 1983 Darth Vader was always cool. Now we find out he’s a whiny kid with some armor and a breathing problem. Yes, a lot has changed, but as each sporting season goes by without a championship the prize seems further and further away. We came close with our beloved Eagles last year, here’s hoping they get the job done this year.

 

One team that won’t be winning it for us is the Phillies. We know, as of the publishing of this article they are still in the race, but they’ll choke. It’s what they do. Unfortunately, their poor attitude about winning has affected the Eagles. Word on the street (and we heard this on the radio, it has to be true) is that the home opener was to be in Philadelphia, not Atlanta. As you undoubtedly know, each year there are 2 games for each team where the opponents and location of those games are determined after the previous season is over. So teams in conferences play teams with similar records for those 2 games. This year, the Eagles got to play Atlanta and Green Bay based on record; the 14 other games and location (but not week) had been predetermined.

 

The story goes that the NFL wanted the Eagles/Falcons game to be the first Monday Night game of the season, come Hell or high water. Unfortunately, our friends in red pinstripes were playing a game versus the Braves beginning at 7 PM that same night across the street. The Phillies (who are the losing-est franchise in North American sports…really) would not move the game earlier, and insisted that the Eagles/Falcons game be moved. It got moved alright, down to Atlanta. Yes, the NFL could have moved the week the game was played, but it would have been a very nice gesture for the Phillies to move their game a few hours earlier. They wouldn’t budge, and the Eagles lost. The Eagles probably would have won that game if it were up here.

 

Thanks Phillies; keep your losing sick off the rest of our fair city’s teams. Do you hear us? KEEP YOUR DAMN SICK OFF THE OTHER TEAMS!!!

 

We have to say, we’re flattered by our imitators. We can’t think of any major sites which featured diaries of fans attending games, but since we launched our column, we’ve seen three on ESPN alone. Some guy who chronicled attending Dodgers games, some chick talking about going to USC games, and some other guy talking about getting patted down at a Bills game just this week. We’re not sure how our column with a readership of 12 spawned these columns, but obviously they got the idea from us. Now where’s our check, ESPN? (OK, they probably never saw our articles – but we can dream, can’t we?)

 

Top Six List

 

Top Six Planets in Our Solar System

 

6. Saturn – It’s big, it has rings, and reminds us of a roulette wheel… what’s not to like?

 

5. Pluto – The farthest planet from the sun (except when it slips inside Neptune’s orbit for 20 years every 248 years or so), Pluto gets big props from us for really being a double planet (Pluto-Cheron) AND the fact that

when it is at its farthest point from the sun the entire atmosphere turns to frost and drops to the ground.  Now THAT is cool – literally.

 

4. Mercury – Man, this place would be a killer vacation spot.  It’s the closest planet to the sun, so you’d have to be able to get a decent tan there… if you could avoid the poisonous atmosphere and the boiling rivers of molten tin on the “hot” side.  But what’s a little molten tin between friends…

 

3. Mars – The “Red Planet” has become the fodder for countless bad sci-fi flicks, stories, and radio hoaxes for the last 200 years or so… how could we have created entertainment at an amazingly low level without it ?!?

 

2. Jupiter – It’s the biggest planet, its atmosphere looks like a bad tie-dye, and it has a gigantic storm that looks like a baleful red eye perpetually spinning around the planet.  And any planet that gives itself the “red eye” is one tough hombre – we didn’t dare rank it lower than “2”.

 

1. Earth – The Earth wins hands down.  Last time we checked, the Earth was the only planet with a breathable atmosphere, beer, wet t-shirt contests, the Xbox, and NFL Football.  It also boasts the best fantasy football minds in the solar system, if for no other reason than the Earth is the only planet which contains intelligent life forms (Dallas Cowboy and New York Giant fans excluded).