Long, strange sea­son ends with weird win at Linc

The Boyertown Area Times - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

Doug Ped­er­son de­serves coach of the year men­tion just for sug­gest­ing the Ea­gles fin­ished the sea­son “the right way” af­ter beat­ing up a Dal­las Cow­boys squad of sec­ond and third-stringers Sun­day.

Though a loss would have trig­gered bed­lam, the the­atrics through­out the day ranked right up there with some of the strangest fi­nales in fran­chise his­tory.

There was more wrong than right with this fin­ish. The Cow­boys kept most of their top play­ers out of the game in­clud­ing MVP can­di­date Zeke El­liott. If this is “kick­ing off the year the right way,” as Ped­er­son in­di­cated, please give us some­thing tan­gi­ble to com­pare it to.

What a long, strange Ea­gles sea­son it’s been, the Grate­ful Dead would say. The flash­backs be­gan at quar­ter­back.

Mark Sanchez, who played for the Ea­gles the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons, fi­nally gave them a chance to win.

Tak­ing over for relic Tony Romo, who re­placed starter Dak Prescott, Sanchez threw two in­ter­cep­tions to Jordan Hicks, the lat­ter of which set up the touch­down en­abling the Birds to tie the game. Just the sight of Sanchez brought back tough mem­o­ries of the butt fum­ble and Chip Kelly, who signed him.

“Mark threw me a cou­ple,” Hicks said. “I ob­vi­ously said thank you af­ter that game. We’re good buds.”

In essence the Cow­boys were Sanchized.

Prescott led the Cow­boys to a field goal. Romo, in his first ac­tion of the sea­son, took the Ea­gles apart on an 81-yard march con­clud­ing with a TD pass giv­ing the visi­tors a 10-3 lead. One se­ries was all the Cow­boys gave Romo, and for good rea­son.

“I haven’t seen him throw a foot­ball in a long time,” Ea­gles of­fen­sive tackle Lane John­son said with a grin. “He looked de­cent there for a lit­tle bit. They took him out be­fore Bran­don Gra­ham got to him be­cause he was tear­ing up Doug Free pretty good.”

What­ever was in the air was con­ta­gious. Ref­eree Walt Cole­man re­set the game clock to 2:02 in the first half af­ter giv­ing the two-minute warn­ing. When play re­sumed, he an­nounced “We will not have the 2-minute warn­ing.” But we did, Walt.

There were a hand­ful of head-scratch­ing calls by Cole­man’s crew in­clud­ing wav­ing off one pass in­ter­fer­ence be­cause the ball was tipped. It was tipped by the player who in­ter­fered. Thanks for stop­ping by, Walt.

The sec­ond half turned into a celebrity get-to­gether af­ter Car­son Wentz threw a 20-yard scor­ing pass to Zach Ertz. Wentz took the ball from Ertz and pre­sented it to their good buddy Mike Trout, the Ma­jor League Base­ball MVP-Ea­gles fan from Mil­lville, N.J.

“We talked about do­ing it be­fore the game,” said Ertz, who had 13 re­cep­tions for 139 yards and two TDs. “I was go­ing to give Mike the ball my­self but I was too tired to run over there af­ter that long drive, so Car­son did it in­stead.”

The crowd loved it. So did Ea­gles play­ers. It’s bound to end up on En­ter­tain­ment Tonight. The rest of the day was just as fes­tive.

Ertz had a mon­ster game … and the Ea­gles pre­vailed. In the three games he’d had 10 or more re­cep­tions, in­clud­ing a club-record 15 for a tight end in 2014, the Ea­gles were beaten.

“You want to build that mo­men­tum go­ing into the off­sea­son,” Ertz said. “And it feels a lot bet­ter when you win and have a big game go­ing into the off­sea­son than if you lose and don’t re­ally do any­thing. But ul­ti­mately the most im­por­tant thing is to win. And the coaches trusted me a lot to­day to throw me the ball and Car­son did a great job de­liv­er­ing it.”

Build­ing on this game, or this sea­son, is a reach on al­most ev­ery level with the ob­vi­ous ex­cep­tion of mov­ing on and for­ward.

You can high-five Wentz for start­ing all 16 games and throw­ing 16 touch­down passes. You can­not hide those 14 in­ter­cep­tions and the 7-9 record.

Af­ter the game Ped­er­son said he didn’t fore­see any changes to his coach­ing staff at this time while adding that there would be eval­u­a­tions. You re­mem­ber what hap­pened to kick re­turner Josh Huff the last time Ped­er­son was cor­nered with a tough ques­tion.

Ped­er­son said he hadn’t de­cided whether he would con­tinue to call plays next sea­son, and then con­firmed he would, the news of which had been bro­ken by Fox an­a­lyst John Lynch dur­ing the tele­cast.

For all prac­ti­cal pur­poses, there was very lit­tle to be gleaned from the way the Ea­gles com­pleted this sea­son, other than the fact that the Cleve­land Browns would get only the 12th pick in the draft via the trade en­abling the Birds to move up and se­lect Wentz.

The Min­nesota Vikings’ win Sun­day means the Ea­gles must win a coin flip to get the 14th and not the 15th pick in the first round of the draft, the or­der to be de­cided by a coin flip with the Indianapolis Colts at the NFL scout­ing com­bine. The Birds get that from the Sam Brad­ford trade.

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