Tag Archives: A.J. Feeley

Eagles-Panthers History Lesson: Jeff Garcia Rescues the 2006 Season from the Brink of Collapse on Monday Night Football

As another Eagles-Panthers primetime showdown approaches tonight, I automatically flash back to a 2006 contest featuring these two squads.

Tonight, backup turned starter Mark Sanchez will be tasked with taking over for Nicky Foles and leading the Eagles to a Monday Night home victory over Carolina, but seven years and 11 months ago, Jeff Garcia had the exact same assignment.

I promised this was coming a few months ago, and I haven’t been this excited to wrote a post since this piece back in July. That game is one of my favorite Eagles memories because of how improbable it seemed beforehand.

In today’s advanced statistics driven NFL, we get so numbers obsessed that we forget about some of the really great stories unfolding before our eyes. I know I am personally guilty of this, and I also know that some of the greatest of these stories are seconds away from never making it past the opening paragraph.

Jeff Garcia and a 2006 Monday Night Football game against the Panthers is one of these stories.

The date was December 4, 2006, and two teams woke up that Monday morning in Philadelphia desperately needing a win. The Panthers were fresh off an 11-5 season and NFC Championship game appearance but entered the matchup at only 6-5 after losing to a bad Redskins team the Sunday prior.

If the Panthers were heading into the game a bit banged up, the Eagles were certainly worse. That 2006 Eagles team ended up being one of my favorite over the past two decades, but they also might have made for the wildest roller coaster. On October 8, they were 4-1 and some considered an epic victory over Terrell Owens and the Cowboys the biggest regular season win of Andy Reid’s coaching tenure to date. Then, the drop started.

The Eagles lost three straight. The ride briefly stopped with a home victory over the Redskins but took another downward spiral as Donovan McNabb suffered a torn ACL in a home loss to the Titans. Next came a blowout loss to the Colts, and for the first time all season, the Eagles were under .500 at 5-6.

The toughest point of the roller coaster had been reached where you felt as if you were going to throw up if the drop lasted another millisecond. The only person who could press the button was a fiery, redheaded, 36-year old quarterback on his fourth team in as many years.

Heading into the season, the thought was that the Eagles could be a playoff team if a few things fell into place, but the general consensus was also that if McNabb were to suffer a severe injury for the second consecutive year, the season would be over.

A weird dynamic was at work though. McNabb was having a pretty nice statistical season before getting hurt against the Titans, but the Eagles kept finding ways to lose games in the the fourth quarter. They looked overmatched in the first game and a half without their franchise quarterback, but Garcia had quietly directed the offense well.

While some folks were still calling for Reid to go to fan-favorite A.J. Feeley, there was a belief that if the uncharacteristically shaky defense could raise their game even a bit, then Garcia and the offense could keep their dwindling playoff hopes alive.

It would have to start that night though if it was going to start at all. The Cowboys at 8-4 and the Giants at 6-6 both sat ahead of the birds in the NFC East. After Carolina, the Eagles would play three consecutive divisional road games, and 5-7 would have been a tough hole to climb out of.

Garcia, Feeley, and the inconsistent defense would all be key elements on that night, and the roller coaster was going to continue for at least three more hours as the Eagles season hung in the balance.

The game began on an ugly note as the Eagles went three and out on their opening two drives before Jake Delhomme found Steve Smith for a nine-yard touchdown.  A series of punts followed, but with Garcia struggling and the Panthers still leading 7-0, an already on-edge crowd had grown restless. Boos rang down after an incompletion in the second quarter.

People watching in other parts of the country may have thought that was unfair, and they might have been right, but in order to understand the frustration, one has to recall the state of Philadelphia sports at the time. The Flyers were in the midst of one of their worst seasons in franchise history. The Sixers were weeks away from trading franchise icon Allen Iverson, and the Phillies had narrowly pushed their playoff drought to 13 seasons two months earlier.

It was looking more and more likely that the city would go a calendar year without seeing a playoff game in any sport. They needed something to cheer about, and they were about to get it, but first, the group of fans who wanted Feeley instead of Garcia were very close to getting their wish.

Still down 7-0 midway through the second quarter, Garcia had taken a vicious hit, and looked for a second like he would not get up. Feeley, the biggest Eagle name linked to Oregon Football before Chip Kelly, had his helmet on and was a yard or two out on the field. The Lincoln Financial Field crowd roared as they saw him, fondly remembering his string of success in 2003 when McNabb and Koy Detmer suffered injuries.

That is as far as Feeley would get to the Eagles huddle though. All of a sudden, Garcia got up and motioned to Reid and the Eagles sideline that he was okay. A few minutes later, he showed it, completing a 51-yard pass to Donte Stallworth and then finding Brian Westbrook cutting across the middle of the field to tie the game at 7-7.

The Panthers would run a nice two-minute drill as Delhomme found Keyshawn Johnson for a one-yard touchdown seconds before halftime, but 14-7 somehow felt better than 7-0. The roller coaster had not yet stopped, but it had slowed down some.

Garcia tied the game with a beautiful 30-yard strike to Stallworth six minutes into the third quarter and ran down the field towards the end zone in celebration. He was having fun again, but his work was far from over as DeAngelo Williams took a screen pass to the house a few minutes later. 21-14 Panthers with the defense not doing the offense many favors.

Garcia got close again towards the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the drive stalled forcing a David Akers field goal. John Kasay would add a field goal of his own for the Panthers a few minutes later to push the lead back to seven. The Eagles were very much in the game, but at some point they would need to get a lead instead of attempting to play from behind all night. A few minutes later, Garcia hit second-year receiver Reggie Brown for a 40-yard touchdown.

It looked like the birds could really do this, but they still needed a stop from their defense. Midway through the quarter, they got one as Brian Dawkins picked off Delhomme and returned the interception 38 yards into Panthers territory. Akers knocked through a 25-yard field goal with 3:13 to go, and the Eagles had their first lead in three weeks.

The home team was far from home free however.

I do not think I will ever see a defensive coordinator as good as Jim Johnson again in my lifetime, but his players had let him down multiple times late in games that season. It looked like they were headed that way again as Delhomme and the Panthers embarked on what seemed like a promising drive.

Three different completions brought the Panthers into Eagles territory, and a couple runs put them seven yards away from the end zone with less than a minute to play. At best, it looked like the Eagles would get to overtime, and another crushing loss was one completion away.

I still get pretty into Eagles games, but I did so even more back then, and by that point, I had bit most of my nails down pretty good. I was in tenth grade and had to be awake in six hours for school. I had a test in my Honors Chemistry class in nine hours, but I had stayed up for Monday Night Eagles games for years as a kid. I also hated chemistry. Make no mistake about it, I was getting an A in the class, but I wasn’t going to let studying for a subject I didn’t care too much about get in the way of this game.

Everyone in my family was asleep, so I didn’t yell at the TV, but I recall saying out loud to no one in particular multiple times on that final drive :

Someone make a play. 

If the Panthers took a few shots at the end zone, Delhomme would likely target Smith or Johnson, their two best receivers. They shouldn’t have felt pressure to force anything though as they had a couple shots and a chip shot field goal that would tie the score should they need it on fourth down.

It would never get to fourth down. It would never even reach second down. On first and goal from the 7-yard line, Delhomme dropped back and looked for Johnson on a fade route in the back right corner of the end zone. Forget overtime, he was going for the kill shot right then and there with a half minute remaining. Get the Panthers to 7-5 and virtually end the Eagles season in front of a national audience.

Lito Sheppard, a Pro Bowl cornerback when healthy, was matched up on the veteran Johnson in single coverage as the play developed — At least he tried to be.

Sheppard was generously listed at 5-foot-10. Johnson was 6-foot-4, and if Delhomme made any sort of decent throw, his receiver would stand a good chance to make a play on the ball. He didn’t make a good throw though.

Delhomme had underthrown Johnson, and Sheppard was in prime position to end the game, cradling the ball while making sure to land with his feet in bounds.

On television at first, it was tough to tell if he actually got both his feet in bounds as he fell to the ground, still in control of the ball. I remember it being a long few seconds before the referee finally pointed to say that it was indeed the Eagles ball.

Johnson, still in the back of the end zone, was livid, demanding a flag for pass interference, insisting that Sheppard had pushed off.

The following is a quote from Johnson printed in the Associated Press game story:

“I feel like I was pushed and grabbed. The throw was fine. The guy pushed me.”

Johnson continue to voice his displeasure in the back of the end zone, but there was no sign of yellow on the field. I jumped out of my chair which had been positioned less than three feet away from my TV during the final drive.

The camera eventually panned away from Johnson. The fans celebrated, and a smiling Garcia sprinted onto the field for a final kneel down with 24 seconds left. After looking like he may have been knocked out of the game a couple hours prior, Garcia had stopped the steep drop and was ready to send the roller coaster back upward.

A usually stoic Andy Reid fist pumped, and broadcaster Joe Theisman quipped, ‘There’s the headline in the Philly papers tomorrow morning: Emotional Andy.”

Michael Barkann began Eagles Post Game Live in a creepy but hilarious manner with his hand in the shape of a a crawling insect.

“It’s aliiiiiivvveeeee,” he cheerfully yelled on a live show just before midnight on a cold December night. “The Eagles season is alive and kickin, baby.”

Indeed it was, Michael. Indeed it was.  Garcia would win all three of those divisional road games to get the Eagles to 9-6 before sitting out the season finale and resting for a playoff run.

After a 26-23 victory over the Giants, the Eagles season would end in the Superdome as they fell 27-24 to the Saints in the second round of the playoffs. From the Carolina game onward, Garcia would go 103-for-177 with nine touchdowns and only three interceptions.

An article about his time in Tampa Bay the following season still hangs in my childhood bedroom with no plan of being taken down.

Garcia

Garcia had taken the Eagles on a wild run that few outside of him thought was possible. The Colts game may have inspired a bit of confidence, but on an epic Monday Night against Carolina is when the results started to roll in.

Who knows what might have happened had Garcia not gotten up midway through the second quarter? Perhaps Feeley comes in and plays lights out, but Garcia reminded everyone about the most valuable life lesson there is. He got up. When things weren’t going well and no one believed in him, he literally was knocked down and got back up.

Hypotheticals are a dangerous thing, but what if Garcia had not stayed in the game and Feeley been ineffective? The Eagles went 8-8 the following year in 2007, and that would have meant three straight seasons of no playoffs for Reid. Conventional wisdom suggests he would not have survived that. The Eagles would have been looking for a new coach as early as January 2008. Chip Kelly was just then beginning to establish himself after his first season as Oregon’s offensive coordinator and surely would not have been the guy.

Tonight’s scene from a long-term standpoint might not be set had Garcia not gotten up. Sometimes though, try as they might, professional football players can’t get up. McNabb couldn’t get up when he tore his ACL, and Nicky Foles couldn’t pick himself up after a vicious hit to the shoulder last Sunday.

That’s what backups are for. Garcia was a great one, and for as big of a Foles fan as I am, Sanchez looked like a competent one in the preseason and last week. Now, we really get to find out though if he can truly exorcise his demons that remain from the Jets.

As far as quarterbacks go, Sanchez and Garcia could not be more different. Garcia attended San Jose State and exited college football undrafted in 1994, spending five years with the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL before hooking on with the 49ers. He did not become a full-time starting quarterback until age 30 and did not win a playoff game until a month before his 33rd birthday.

Sanchez on the other hand was thought to be the chosen one, growing up in Long Beach, California and attending the storied USC. He was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft and a starting quarterback in the NFL before his 23rd birthday. Before his 25th birthday, he had beaten Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady in road playoff games.

Then, he fell just as quickly as he rose to stardom. There was the butt fumble, sure, but more than that, there was an awful stretch in December of 2012 that saw him transform into a turnover machine:

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 11.38.26 PM

Sanchez is not nearly as mobile as Garcia and less accurate but has a much stronger arm. As I said, as far as quarterback attributes go, they are polar opposites, but both have found levels of NFL success at certain parts of their NFL careers.

Nearly eight years ago after a rough time in Cleveland and Detroit following a solid run in San Francisco, Garcia rediscovered his mojo and captivated a city.

For at least the next month, Sanchez will have a chance to do exactly the same team. He will do it surrounded by a better Eagles team than the 2006 Eagles squad and perhaps against a worse Panthers team who stumbles in on a three-game losing streak at 3-5-1.

If it happens, he’ll do it by playing his style and being the best Mark Sanchez he can be, but it sure won’t be hard to reminisce about Jeff Garcia and a magical Monday Night in 2006 should Sanchez be found smiling come midnight tonight.

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Eagles-Colts History Lesson: The Birds Lost a Game but Found a Quarterback

The Eagles are in Indianapolis for a Monday Night showdown against the Colts tonight.

The last time they traveled to Indianapolis, not counting a preseason game in 2009, was for a Sunday Night showdown in November 2006. There is a certain novelty to playing AFC teams since you have to wait four years to play the same team again and typically eight years before returning to the same city.

When appropriate, I would like to provide a recent history lesson on gameday about the Eagles particular opponent, and we have one here that I feel both connects past, present, and future.

The date was November 26, 2006, and the eventual Super Bowl champion Colts were rolling at 9-1. The same could not be said about the Eagles. Andy Reid’s squad entered the contest with a 5-5 record, but it felt a lot worse. They had dropped four of their past five games and a week earlier lost starting quarterback Donovan McNabb to a torn ACL in an ugly home loss to the Titans.

A McNabb sports hernia injury helped derail the 2005 season, and the general consensus was that if he was lost for any significant amount of time, the season was over.

Jeff Garcia was the Eagles next man up. Garcia at one time was a very successful signal-caller for the 49ers, but over the past few years leading up to 2006, he had lost starting jobs in San Francisco, Cleveland, and Detroit.

Garcia had played okay when called upon to relieve McNabb the previous week, but many folks did not trust him to move the ball and were calling for then fan-favorite A.J. Feeley.

The scrappy veteran did have one thing going for him though. He was familiar with Reid’s west-coast system, and back then, Reid was decently good at tailoring schemes to some of his players .

The night, as expected, was ugly. A full box score and recap is available here.

Joseph Addai gashed the Eagles for three first half touchdowns, and the visitors were down 21-0 in the second quarter before you could blink an eye. For a normally stout Jim Johnson defense, it was an embarrassing performance as the Colts posted 420 total yards in a 45-21 victory.

Peyton Manning was only responsible for 183 of those yards and honestly had a pretty pedestrian night. Garcia — based on raw numbers — actually outperformed him.

Eagles-Colts 2006

This brings us to the major point of the post. Garcia got the Eagles on the board with a touchdown pass to L.J. Smith in the second quarter and found Reggie Brown in the third quarter for another. He took care of the football and only threw four incomplete passes the entire game.

After the final whistle, the big story was how poorly the Eagles defense played and how Reid was headed for a second consecutive losing season, but another plot was now scratching the surface.

The Eagles might not have been good enough to beat a powerhouse Colts team, but if a few issues could be cleaned up, they had a quarterback capable of beating some NFC teams to keep their dwindling playoff hopes alive.

Garcia did just that. The next week he led the Eagles to an epic Monday Night victory over the Panthers (more on that in a couple months) and proceeded to win three consecutive NFC East road games to capture the division crown.

From the aforementioned Colts game through the end of the season, Garcia went 122-for-200, 1513 yards, 11 touchdowns, and only two interceptions.

The run under Garcia ended at the Superdome with a 27-24 loss to the Saints in the second round of the playoffs after again beating the Giants one week earlier. Garcia would sign with Buccaneers in the offseason and lead them to the playoffs the following season.

A January 6, 2008 Philadelphia Inquirer article about his time in Tampa Bay still hangs in my room to this day.

Jeff Garcia Picture

You could say I really liked Jeff Garcia.

Who didn’t like Jeff Garcia though? Philadelphia was in the midst of a miserable sports winter. The Phillies had just missed out on what would have been their first playoff berth since 1993. The Flyers were in the midst of one of their worst seasons in franchise history, and the Sixers were having a falling-out with long-time franchise icon Allen Iverson.

The city needed hope, and a fiery red-head came to the rescue just in time.

This is a dangerous hypothetical path to go down, but the Eagles missed the playoffs the following year in 2007, going 8-8. Had Garcia not turned 2006 around, it would have been three straight years of no playoffs. Would Andy Reid have survived that? If he hadn’t, what are the odds that Chip Kelly would be here today? Would Nick Foles be playing somewhere else?

Those questions bring me to tonight. Eight years later, we are back in Indianapolis, and instead of Manning-Garcia, it is Andrew Luck vs. Nick Foles. The average age of the quarterbacks that night were 33. Tonight, that number is 25.

Both teams are expected to be contenders this season, and I even picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl. Much like Manning-Garcia, Luck is the perceived star. Akin to Manning, he was the number one overall pick in the draft while Luck and 86 other players heard their names called before Foles in the same draft class.

Foles’ numbers are for the most part better than Luck’s through the early portions of their careers, but most football people will tell you that Luck is the far superior player.

Tonight, we get to see them go at it head-to-head. I called for a narrow Colts victory before the season. I badly want to be wrong, but a shootout loss where Foles matches Luck, similar to what he did against Drew Brees in the playoffs last year, would not be the worst thing in the world.

Nearly eight years ago, the Eagles lost a game in Indianapolis but temporarily found a quarterback. Tonight, they have an opportunity to show the football world that they have a quarterback for years to come.

Introducing Your Official Cody Parkey Kickoff Tracker

A week and a half ago, Cody Parkey had his A.J. Feeley moment in the Eagles final preseason game, drilling first half field goals of 53 and 54 yards to steal Alex Henery’s job and potentially the hearts of fans at Lincoln Financial Field and throughout the greater Philadelphia area.

I had been tracking Henery’s kickoffs during the preseason when I was admittedly convinced he was going to hold onto the job, and we are going to do the same thing with the rookie from Auburn as the regular season gets underway today (Typing those last five words makes me so damn giddy).

You can dismiss this as unimportant if you so choose, but it did cost the Eagles a playoff victory last season, so I find it significant to keep tabs on.

Parkey is known to have a strong leg, so the chart below will hopefully have nice results. He put all three of his kicks in the end zone against the Jets with one going for a touchback.

He will kickoff at least once today and hopefully many more times if the birds follow Chip Kelly’s plan. Your chart is below and will be updated following each kick throughout the game.

Game # Opponent Kickoff Number End zone Touchback Starting Field Position  Average Starting Field Position 
1 Jaguars 1 Yes Yes 20 20
1 Jaguars 2 Yes No 13 16.5
1 Jaguars 3 Yes Yes 20 17.67
1 Jaguars 4 Yes Yes 20 18.25
1 Jaguars 5 Yes Yes 20 18.6
1 Jaguars 6 Yes Yes 20 18.83
1 Jaguars 7 Yes No 13 18

Parkey also hit a 51-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 17. You go, Cody Parkey!

Cody Parkey May have had his A.J Feeley Moment and Made Me Look Pretty Stupid in the Process

Sometimes screenshots can speak louder than words.

The Auburn rookie for all intents and purposes had his A.J. Feeley moment tonight in the preseason finale against the Jets and may have flipped the Eagles kicker competition upside-down.

Two of the three field goals were far from chip shots too.

Cody Parker Post 2

Unlike last week when he missed a 31-yard attempt wide right, Henery didn’t do anything to lose ground tonight, but he wasn’t allowed a chance to gain any on a night when Parkey announced his presence loudly.

Not having Henery attempt a kick tonight may not be completely indicative of Chip Kelly already declaring Parkey the winner in his head. For better or for worse, he has data and film on Henery to go off of. He needed to see what he had in Parkey and if the first field goal was for real.

This is not an easy decision, but it looks increasingly likely that I look pretty stupid come Saturday afternoon when the final cuts need to be filed.

Editor’s Note: No 53-man roster projection from me right now because quite honestly, I’m exhausted and need to drive six hours to my friend’s wedding in Pittsburgh when I wake up in the morning. Jeff Maehl will make it as the sixth wide receiver though — That’s my one prediction to take to the bank.

If You’re Turnt AF for Matt Barkley Time Tonight, Clap Your Hands

Clap clap!

The team that nearly ruined Mark Sanchez plays the team that is rebuilding him in the preseason finale tonight at Lincoln Financial Field. In less douchey terminology, the Eagles and Jets meet in the annual fourth and final preseason contest before roster cuts are due and teams get ready for the actual show.

I unfortunately will not be watching the action live tonight, but unlike a lot of folks who tune out the fourth preseason game because they falsely believe it is completely meaningless, I have to work late before spending Labor Day Weekend in Pittsburgh at a friend’s wedding. You may have already seen that mentioned on here.

I get that some people cannot stand this final game. I really do, but to the fringe players that participate in it, tonight could help make or break their career. It happened 14 years ago in Philadelphia with A.J. Feeley and will happen again around the league tonight.

When I arrive home from work, I will probably throw on a replay while packing for the wedding and attempt a 53-man roster projection.

In the meantime, here are five things I hope to see from the Mark Sanchez-Michael Vick Bowl Matt Barkley-Michael Vick Bowl when I fire up the DVR:

  1. Matt Barkley has an excellent audition — I like Matt Barkley. I think he can have a future as a starter in this league, just not in Philadelphia (where Nick Foles is the starting quarterback for the next 1000 years). Since he entered the league 16 months ago, Barkley’s game has been picked apart every which way. Such is life when you go from a prodigy who some scouts had ahead of Andrew Luck to a fourth round pick following a rough senior season at shoulder injury. Tonight is Barkley’s chance to show some of the naysayers that he belongs and to catch the attention of some quarterback needy teams who might be interested down the road.
  2. Alex Henery is mistake free — I am at the point where I don’t know what else to write about the embattled kicker. I attempted to explore his issues in-depth and even defended him after an awful miss last week. I am still very confident the Eagles enter Week 1 with him as their guy, but the margin for error has never been smaller. I will update the kickoff tracker when I get home but nothing live during the game sadly.
  3. A wide receiver on the bubble shows they want the spot — Between Jeff Maehl, Arrelious Benn, and Ifeanyi Momah, the birds have a trio of receivers competing for what is likely one final spot on the depth chart there. All have flashed but have also displayed their inconsistency that has put them squarely on the bubble. Maehl is the safe bet considering he played for Chip Kelly at Oregon and knows the system, but I think Benn and Momah have a much higher ceiling. If they want to reach that ceiling though, they need to show it tonight.
  4. Jaylen Watkins doing good things on defense — I could have picked a lot of people here but hope to see the rookie defensive back in action tonight. He had a rough time against the Bears but also flashed his potential and versatility with an interception before all was said and done.
  5. A standing ovation for Michael Vick — Call this a cop out, but the former Eagles quarterback is back at the Linc in a different shade of green after five years in Philadelphia, and I think he earned it. I never thought Vick was a very good quarterback, but I believe he left here a better person and teammate than when he arrived. I think a lot of people are still unsure about how to judge him stemming from his dogfighting troubles of the past, but our country loves a comeback, and Vick has certainly made the most of his second chance.

We almost made it. The finish line is in sight. See you folks for more analysis once we cross it.

Think Tonight’s Eagles-Jets Game is Meaningless? Travel Back in Time and Tell that to A.J. Feeley 14 Years Ago

Before Chip Kelly became the biggest thing once associated with Oregon football to spread his influence on the Eagles, there was A.J. Feeley.

A career third-string and backup quarterback, Feeley was able to live out his dream as a fill-in starter during a few different seasons in Philadelphia, even going 4-1 during a five game stretch in 2002.

At the time, it was a fun story, but all of it might have never been possible were it not for one epic drive in the final preseason game back on August 30, 2001.

This is your Eagles history lesson of the day, and while it may not have been ridiculously important, it underscores a significant theme that will run rampant throughout tonight’s Eagles-Jets preseason finale almost a decade and a half later. While the fourth preseason game can be a vacation for the starters, it is the complete opposite for some of the backups. It’s their career.

The Eagles were trailing the Jets 12-6 with time winding down. Whether or not they won or lost was irrelevant, but for the rookie quarterback, it meant everything. The year before, Koy Detmer and Ron Powlus had backed up Donovan McNabb, who led the birds to a playoff victory on wildcard weekend in his first full-time season as the starting quarterback.

The following spring, the team had drafted Feeley in the fifth round, but they were still only going to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster. It was very possible that Powlus would hang onto the job and Feeley would have to find a home elsewhere, until things changed on that final drive.

Third year coach Andy Reid essentially said to Feeley ‘Alright rookie, get us in the end zone, you’ve got your spot on the team.’

Feeley delivered with an improbable 80-yard drive, eventually finding Sean Scott for a 16-yard touchdown pass in the Veterans Stadium end zone with only 23 seconds remaining. For as much as I like to flaunt my Eagles memory, it doesn’t translate perfectly to the 2001 preseason.

I recalled the touchdown pass that flipped the quarterback competition, but earlier on the drive, big passes were completed to Anthony Gray and Penn State graduate Tony Stewart.

These are some links and screenshots to news articles recapping the game from the Los Angeles Times and the Allentown Morning Call.

Feeley Screenshot 1

Feeley Screenshot 2

A somewhat incomplete ESPN box score of the action is available here.

I never expected to be writing about it so many years later, but I remember watching it, probably well past my fourth grade bedtime at the time, just happy that the Eagles won even though it didn’t really count.

Powlus, who had a nice college career at Notre Dame, was cut a day or two later and never played in the NFL again. Feeley lasted for 11 years, and when McNabb and Detmer both suffered serious injuries in 2002, he helped keep the ship afloat, throwing for six touchdown passes over a six game stretch, allowing the Eagles to secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

He would fail as a part-time starter on a terrible Miami team in 2004 but eventually made his way back to Philadelphia, leading the Eagles to a victory against the Falcons in the 2006 season finale and nearly knocking off the then undefeated Patriots at Gillette Stadium in November 2007, throwing for three touchdown passes and 345 yards through the air.

Not a bad NFL career for a fifth round pick who lost his starting job at Oregon to Joey Harrington and wasn’t expected by some to make the team that summer of his rookie year.

What if Scott had dropped that touchdown pass though? What if Gray or Stewart had the balls thrown their way hit off their hands and turn into interceptions? What if a blocking assignment had been missed earlier in the drive and Feeley never made it past midfield?

We can fill a ton of space what-iffing to death, but the idea is to show that while many folks like to disregard the last preseason game, small details — even in the final few minutes — can mean everything to underdog players.

For an Eagles backup quarterback who has been out of the league less than five years, the game everyone loves to hate served as the springboard to a decade-long stay in the NFL, and there are other A.J. Feeley’s out there tonight, throughout the league, be it at quarterback or another position, just looking for that one moment that could be their big break.

Tonight’s game means nothing, eh? Travel back in time to the summer of 2001 and try telling that to A.J. Feeley.

Live Blog: Replay of the Eagles-Bears Preseason Game

Last night, I watched the Eagles preseason opener against the Bears at a crowded bar, and it reminded me why I don’t watch Eagles games at crowded bars.

It was great to catch up with some of my high school friends who I hadn’t seen in quite some time, but it is impossible to really focus on the details of a game at a place like that.

I ended up listening to Merrill Reese on the radio for the first 10 minutes while doing 20 laps in my car around the parking lot looking for a space.

This may not be a weekly feature, but here’s a collection of notes, thoughts, and maybe a few pictures while watching a replay of the game in the comfort of my own home. Live blog style:

Pregame

Bae

Chip Preseason

Missed you, bae.

Chip Preseason 2

I’ll stop now, I promise.

First Quarter

14:55 — Scott Graham just called Allen Barbre, “Allen Barber.” I have a feeling a lot of announcers will make that mistake during the first four games. The less they do, the better, because it means Barbre will have done his job and gone unnoticed.

14:01 — The Bears have to call timeout after two completions from Nicky. Can I call you Nicky? I feel like I can call you Nicky occasionally after I wrote this about you.

13:55 — Man, it feels like Lance Briggs has been on the Bears forever, doesn’t it?

13:30 — Foles intercepted. Did not hear this on the radio last night, but Brian Baldinger says the pass was tipped, and I agree. Not a great read by Foles but also don’t know where the pass was originally intended.

11:59 — Nice to see Mychal Kendricks just dropped in coverage and looked alright doing it. Good stuff.

11:50 — Nice field goal block by Damion Square. Not sure he makes the team here but has that on his resume now.

The channel I’m watching just fast-forwarded eight minutes. Boo

3:24 — Touchdown Bears. Baldy says it was good coverage but looked like DeMeco Ryans never got his head turned around to look for the ball.

Too many commercials.

3:18 — First ball blows off the tee before the kickoff of the year! We rollin now.

3:10 — Baldy just called Barbre “Barber” now too. Make it stop.

2:40 — Jeremy Maclin catches a pass. First time he did that since December 30, 2012. I want to say something witty here about how times have changed since then, but I’ve got nothing. Sorry, folks.

1:00 — Foles intercepted again. You probably haven’t heard this stat yet, but that equals the number of picks he threw last regular season.

:50 — Nice tackle by Najee Goode. The lack of depth at inside linebacker is an underrated concern in my opinion. Hopefully he can ease some of it.

Second Quarter 

15:00 — Vinny Curry hungry.

13:50 — ZACH ERTZ, MY DUDE. Big second year leap coming for him this season. Mark it down.

12:50 — Donnie Jones in midseason form, pinning the Bears on their own 10 yard line.

12:00 — Bad missed tackle by Earl Wolff there. Billy Davis can’t be thrilled.

10:55 — 2010 Draft class RISE UP! Nate Allen picks off Jordan Palmer, set up by some nice pressure from Brandon Graham. Take that Earl Thomas! // Sobs during the commercial

10:47 — Ertz again with a nice reception. Last year, my dad never really bothered to learn his name. Every time he caught a pass, he would ask “Is that the kid from Stanford who they got playing for em’?” Expecting to hear it a lot this year.

9:38 — Eagles score, Matthew Tucker. Running out of the spread seems to have caught the Bears off guard. Nice push from potential backup center David Molk.

This is just weird, but I think I can get used to it.

Mark Sanchez

9:30 — Welcome, Chris Maragos. Nice tackle on the kickoff.

8:15 — Marcus Smith outchea batting down a pass to get the defense off the field. Good to see.

7:32 — I’m trying to watch Lane Johnson against the twos. Think he looks good, but Mark Sanchez and Tucker are making it tough to pay attention with these dynamic plays.

5:52 — Tucker scores again. I realize it’s the preseason against fellow backups, but the bottom of this Eagles roster is the best it has been in quite some time. I imagine a few guys who get cut will hook on elsewhere.

5:50 — Baldy mentions DeSean Jackson. To my knowledge, this is the first time his name has been dropped tonight.

5:50 — Alex Henery puts the kickoff into the end zone. Whoa.

5:27 — Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro just seems like a fun guy to play for. One of Chip’s Oregon guys and glad he brought him along.

Jerry Azzinaro

5:15 — Defensive holding negates the impact but nice coverage and tackle by Smith in space.

1:07 — Touchdown Bears. Marc Trestman has found a mismatch with Zach Miller against the Eagles linebackers in coverage, and he likes it.

There is a minute left in the half and the Eagles have three timeouts left. Insert some joke about Andy Reid here.

:54 — JOSH HUFF GOES 102 YARDS FOR A TOUCHDOWN! Last night, I thought he pulled a DeSean circa 2008 and dropped the ball before crossing the plane but nope, he good.

:49 — Only a yard deep that time, but Henery still puts the kick in the end zone. Could be worse.

:31 — Almost 10 minutes have elapsed since I last typed something. This is the longest end to the first half ever, but I love Chip using the aforementioned timeouts to try to get the ball back. Aggressive football.

Halftime

Finally! I wasn’t quick enough to snap a picture, but Sanchez and Chip were walking off the field together. I imagine the signal-caller said something along the lines of “Thanks for rescuing me from that Jets offense and Rex Ryan.”

 Third Quarter 

15:00 — Henery puts another one in the end zone. Not bad.

14:55 — Jimmy Clausen sighting for the Bears. I automatically think of this upon seeing his name.

12:23 — Matt Barkley time y’all! (Starts with an incompletion intended for James Casey)

11:20 — Tucker fumbled, Clausen got nowhere, and Robbie Gould made a field goal. 21-17 Eagles. It seems like things bout to get unwatchable.

11:16 — Bad kickoff return by Huff that time. Didn’t even make it to the 10 yard line. One thing of note here, pretty sure I saw Marcus Smith playing special teams there. Will be interesting to follow.

8:51 — Couple of good balls from Barkley including an out to Will Murphy down the right sideline showing off some decent arm strength. Another nice pass to Jordan Matthews on the left, but the rookie drops it.

7:02 — Screen game, David Fluellen. 28-17 Eagles and some boos heard at Solider Field. I love Chicago, awesome city, but they’re probably still a bit salty over this.

6:50 — I went to go get some grapes during the commercial, but I see Henery had another touchback. Nice.

6:04 — Touchdown Bears. Jaylen Watkins burnt in a welcome to the NFL moment for the fourth round rookie.

5:59 — Obligatory reminder that Damaris Johnson is still on this team for another couple weeks.

5:27 — Bad drop by Matthews, not exactly helping Barkley out here. Birds have to punt.

5:09 — Turnovers on back-to-back plays. Bears fumble a punt return and Barkley gets intercepted. Seen some good stuff out of Barkley but think my slim hopes of him taking the backup job from Sanchez have just left town.

4:15 — Clausen should have been called for intentional grounding. He wasn’t, and the Bears get a first down on a screen pass the very next play.

1:29 — Touchdown Bears, lead Bears. Watkins got picked on pretty good during that drive. 31-28.

:26 — Barkley seems to like Casey. Nice third down completion over the middle to extend the drive.

It just dawned on me that I’m spending 1/8 of my Saturday watching a football game that isn’t even live. Send help.

Fourth Quarter

14:50 — Barkley slips and misses an open Huff who seemed to be sitting in the Bears zone. Cue a punt.

14:15 — Roc Carmichael seems like a good guy. He’s not a good NFL cornerback however. Beat deep again.

12:13 — Watkins interception! Don’t be fooled if you only look at a box score.

Eagles Preseason Box Score

He had a rough night, but I imagine that made the pick feel even better.

10: 56 — G.J. Kinne time. He appears to enjoy throwing to Johnson, a former Tulsa teammate.

9:45 — Jones touchback. Looked like Watkins may have had a shot to down it, but either way, you don’t see that too often. Only five in 82 punts last season.

It just occurred to me that I forgot to start Corey Kluber on my fantasy team today. Dammit, Drew. I’m in first place but gotta be better than that.

8:11 — Bears convert a 3rd and 11. These are backups in the fourth quarter of a preseason game, but that’s one area where the Eagles defense needs to be better this year.

I didn’t watch the guy as much as I wish I did to point out specific plays, but I don’t want to go the whole post without mentioning him: Beau Allen seemed to take advantage of Bennie Logan sitting this one out with a solid game.

5:01 — I’m still here folks, I promise. You gotta realize what I’m working with here trying to blog about the fourth quarter of an NFL preseason game.

3: 46 — Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ is playing during a timeout. Used to really like that song before it got ridiculously overplayed.

3:30 — Solider Field goes wild for local product Jordan Lynch as he runs for a first down. According to Wikipedia, he and I share a birthday, so he’s cool in my book.

2:50 — Between all of the offensive holding penalties early and a personal foul on Bryan Braman there, birds not exactly disciplined in their play tonight.

This graphic appears on the broadcast before the two minute warning. Please get here soon.

Eagles Schedule

2:00 — Graham is on the field. For as much as some think he won’t make it out of camp, I hope the Eagles keep him around as another pass-rusher. Even though you have me blocked on the Twitter machine, I’m pulling for you.

1:58 — Gould adds a field goal to make it 34-28. We unfortunately won’t see Henery attempt any tonight.

1:49 — Kinne has to go 79 yards in under two minutes. Back in 2001, A.J. Feeley made the team by pulling off a similar situation.

:50 — Kinne has the Eagles more than halfway there to the 37 yard line. Let’s see what you got, kid.

Tick..tick…

:02 — Hail Mary time. Ball spotted on the Chicago 33.

:00 — Kinne rolling to his left and falling down off his back foot completes a pass to Quron Pratt just inside the red zone but time expires. Game to Chicago.

It was fun, Bears. Let’s do it again next August.