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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Remember when the Eagles tied? That was a good thing

The Eagles tied the Cincinnati Bengals, 13-13, in week 11 to drop the Eagles to a 5-4-1 record. With 1:30 left in overtime, and the Eagles facing a 4th and 1 on their own 22-yard-line, Andy Reid elected to punt. The Eagles only got the ball back with time left for one Hail Mary, and the game ended in a tie, which awards both teams a half-win in the standings (along with a half-loss, of course). Several newspaper columnists were baffled by Andy Reid's decision to punt the ball in that situation, stating that he should not have played for the tie. Here's what Kevin Roberts of the Courier Post had to say:

"[This] is the low point of the worst season of Reid's career. In a must-win game, the head coach played for a tie. The Eagles were in an absolute must-win situation Sunday. And with 1:30 left in overtime and the Eagles facing a fourth-and-1, Reid elected to punt and cut the Eagles' chances to win a must-win game to darn near zero."

Yes, guy, their chances to win were eliminated when they punted. But, if they go for it and make it, there's still almost no shot at the Eagles gaining 50 yards in one minute when they couldn't move the ball at all in OT (let alone Akers making a long FG in that wind). If they go for it and miss, they lose. The decision to punt directly earned the Eagles a half-win in the standings.

Why am I ranting about a decision made six weeks ago? Because the Eagles just clinched a playoff berth by demolishing and therefore eliminating the Cowboys. The Eagles finished 9-6-1, and the Cowboys finished 9-7. If Andy Reid doesn't punt on 4th and 1, and the Eagles did not convert (they were 3 for 18 on third downs against Cincy, and 0 for 3 on third and one), the Eagles would have finished 9-7, tied with the Cowboys for the final playoff spot. And guess who would have had the tiebreaker? Dallas, with a 3-3 division record to the Eagles' 2-4.

Had the Eagles lost in Cincinnati, they would have been eliminated after losing to Washington last week. Instead, the tie has kept them alive for at least two additional weeks. Andy Reid, despite your many faults, thank you for 'playing for the tie.'

Also, to Kevin Roberts, I'd say it's pretty embarrassing to label a decision that directly helped the Eagles make the playoffs as the "low point" of Reid's season.

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