Ripped by the Eagles' Talons
September 21, 2005 at 12:00 AM
The National Football Conference Champion Philadelphia Eagles had a statement to make after their first week loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
They did that by sharpening the very talons they used to scratch and claw their way to the top when they met the New England Patriots in this last Super Bowl.
There was a lot of talk made on both sides of the ball regarding Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and his ability to play with a bruised sternum that he suffered at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons in week one of the NFL schedule.
But obviously from every vantage point he obliterated any such doubts in this early afternoon game by throwing for five touchdown passes in a humiliating defeat for us, (42-3) after coming off a rebirth of a win over the St. Louis Rams in Week One.
The trash talk instituted between San Francisco 49er linebacker Derek Smith and former San Francisco 49er wide receiver Terrell Owens merely sparked a contest that would ultimately be one-sided and utterly embarrassing.
Despite what many believe to be true about Terrell Owens regarding his demeanor and candor with the press, his words are always backed-up by his actions out on the field.
His ability to be a big game difference maker is for real folks. We all know and understand what he did for eight seasons as a San Francisco 49er. He is a real homerun hitter and he is able to do what he wants and say what he wants to support his claims every time.
Right from the very beginning, starting with the first drive by the Philadelphia Eagles from their own 28-yard line with 14:17 left to play in the whole first quarter, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb threw a bomb that landed in the arms of Terrell Owens for a 68-yard touchdown.
His erect-stance in the end zone and his defiant gestures signaled what the talk was all about. He made us pay immediately for our discontent and lack of confidence in him.
The opening drive covered 72-yards in just three plays. It was a textbook look at what we lost when Terrell Owens started to make his noise not too long ago about getting out of San Francisco and someday playing for the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Donovan McNabb.
The odds were stacked against us almost from the very beginning. However, we had every right to believe that we could compete with this team, especially after defeating the high-flying aerial circus in the St. Louis Rams.
The equation to all this was that the Philadelphia Eagles defense played a large part in securing this victory by knocking San Francisco 49er quarterback Tim Rattay on his buttocks and picking the ball a total of three times from him as well.
Looking back again with 10:45 left to play in the first quarter and the 49ers driving from their 27-yard line I can't help but wonder at why Tim Rattay would throw such a bomb of a pass to rookie running back Frank Gore. Even worse, why would Frank Gore simply watch it drop into Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Dhani Jones and do nothing to interfere with it?
It was right after this interception that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb went on a seven-play scoring drive, with Terrell Owens being his main target again for 70 total yards. From the 49er 28-yard line McNabb hit tight end L. J. Smith for 22-yards and finally six-yards for another touchdown to make it 14-0 Eagles.
The images of the 2004 season under Dennis Erickson and Terry Donahue suddenly came filtering through as I watched this game and our (2-14) dismal season. Had we embarked again on that never enthusiastic journey all over again?
Tim Rattay was named the starter despite his inability to stay healthy last season. And Lord knows his countless and never exhausting ability to create turnovers that have cost us.
But despite those flu-like symptoms I thought that I was experiencing, I knew that this was a team experiencing the bewilderment of what it is like to suddenly play a champion-caliber football organization.
The positive catch by San Francisco 49er wide receiver Brandon Lloyd on third-and-five with 1:05 left to go in the first quarter was incredible as you could see him do a one-handed snag on the ball, but came up just shy of the first down.
You have to understand the disappointment in all 49er fans that this was a huge reversal in fortune compared to what happened in week one. However, most of us can understand the magnitude at which the team is still developing and learning under a new regime and that all of this will be a long process rather than a quick one, when thinking about a shot at the playoffs.
"This is only the second step in our journey but it might be more valuable than our first one last week which was a very important win," said head coach Mike Nolan comparing last week's victory over St. Louis to Sunday's loss.
"This one might have more to do with us getting better down the road than last week's game," said head coach Mike Nolan. "Adversity is sometimes the best experience you have. This is certainly an adverse situation for our football team. I look at it that way."
When reporters confronted head coach Mike Nolan about quarterback Tim Rattay's erratic performance from this game, he was hesitant to answer them. This hesitation is thought by some to be an indication of growing or perceived frustration because Tim was not at all like himself from week one at home.
"I don't know," Nolan finally said. "I can't answer it."
After the second preseason game, quarterback Tim Rattay won the position as the starting quarterback. He was intercepted three times as he finished the horrendous day 13-of-26 for 107 passing yards and a quarterback rating of an impossibly low 21.3%.
Even the running game suffered its second major setback from Week One, being unable to move the chains and accumulating only 58 total yards of rushing.
What is even worse is that starting left tackle Jonas Jennings left the game after suffering a shot to his larynx and was sent to the hospital for precautionary treatment.
With us unable to convert anything on third down, which we found ourselves in a lot, Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles made a very long drive from their nine-yard line following a 49er fumble and made it look very simple. In fact, they drove all the way to the San Francisco 49er 42-yard line and found none other than Terrell Owens who ran all 42-yards right into the end zone to make it 21-0.
San Francisco 49er quarterback Tim Rattay continued his struggles right after this touchdown by throwing yet another interception from our 29-yard line that was intended for Johnnie Morton. Cornerback Lito Sheppard grabbed the ball and brought it to the 49er two-yard line.
From here, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb merely tossed the ball to running back Brian Westbrook for the touchdown to make it 28-0 Eagles.
Shortly after this with 9:04 remaining in the half and on the Philadelphia Eagle 49-yard line for the first time, Tim Rattay threw an interception intended for Brandon Lloyd who slipped en route and resulted in cornerback Roderick Hood carrying it to our 43-yard line.
"I missed a lot of throws out there that I wanted to make," Rattay said. "It can happen, but I need to clean things up. I'm going to have to watch the tape and get better."
On this given Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers converted only three of 12 third downs and allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to make seven of 10. The 49er offense looked and acted pathetic to say the least and forced our defense to remain on the field for over 37 minutes, which resulted in the second consecutive time of an unbalanced time of possession with the ball.
The only score we did have was on a field goal by kicker Joe Nedney in the third quarter with 9:05 left to play as the 49ers drove from their 43-yard line to the Philadelphia Eagles 14-yard line. The only reason we weren't shutout was because of Joe Nedney's 32-yard field goal to make it 28-3.
Despite the failures on the field, head coach Mike Nolan still came away with positive impressions from a team that had so many players playing hard and still trying to contribute even with the score the way it was. Effort has to be noticed when you are losing and I must say that I saw the same thing many of the coaches did that afternoon.
"I thought the guys continued to play hard and that was important to watch," said Nolan. "There is no quit in our football team. There will not be."
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb had a remarkable day for someone wearing protective gear to cover his bruised sternum, as he threw his fifth touchdown of the day to Greg Lewis from our six-yard line after a seven play, 80-yard march down the field to make it 35-3.
And even after Donovan McNabb went 23-of-29 for 342-yards and a quarterback rating of 155.4%, his back-up in Koy Detmer that came in the fourth quarter never missed a beat.
Starting at their own 10-yard line he drove the Eagles on 14-plays for 90 total yards and ate the clock for over 10 minutes on this drive to score a six-yard touchdown run by Lamar Gordon to put it away 42-3.
With so much time consumed this left only scraps for rookie first round pick 49er quarterback Alex Smith to make his first appearance with 3:37 left in the game. Head Coach Mike Nolan indicated Alex Smith would've gone in sooner rather than later to start the fourth quarter if not for the extended drive by the Eagles. He was leaning towards getting Alex Smith right in to start the fourth quarter.
There is very little positive to talk about concerning this contest. Out of the total first downs the Philadelphia Eagles had 30 compared to our eight. In total net yards, the Philadelphia Eagles had 583 total yards of offense compared to our 142.
Terrell Owens alone had had five catches for 143 total yards with two touchdowns and 28.6-yards a catch. Our defense was exhausted beyond belief because our offense couldn't create first downs from impossible third down conversions.
Said San Francisco 49er center Jeremy Newberry: "The Eagles did exactly what we expected them to do, but we did not execute the way you have to. In all aspects of the game, the Eagles outplayed us."
What all of us must know and continue to hold on to is that our future is still very bright. We are at (1-1) so far in this stage.
Yes the National Football Conference Champion Philadelphia Eagles annihilated us, but I am a firm believer that Mike Nolan will use this game as a sounding board and as a motivator for the rest of the season.
Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid said, "We understand it's never as good as you think and never as bad as you think in this league. Mike Nolan's putting together a football team right now, working his tail off to get that thing right. He's got a bright future ahead of him."
And with parting words from San Francisco 49er linebacker Derek Smith about Terrell Owens, whom he prodded and ridiculed earlier in the week before this game, it was Terrell Owens that had the last laugh.
"I said he was a premier player," said linebacker Derek Smith, who blasted Owens earlier in the week. "But I wouldn't take him on our team even after his performance today. He had a good game. He had a great game. And he'll have a great year."
With that, I would agree with you Derek. Terrell Owens will always be someone that delivers results in the form of actions. His words are damaging, distracting and cancer to a football team.
Long term, the Philadelphia Eagles will realize this; short-term, they are basking in the glory of his execution and play making ability. We have a lot of issues, but none that will keep us up all night, because Mike Nolan will have an answer to this adverse situation. One way or another, we will redeem ourselves.
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