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Consecutive wins for Saints, who host Eagles on Sunday

Nightmare scenario

Posted by Eric Fisher On January 14

Fisher column logo2Our nightmare is likely to begin this week.

And it could get worse during the following few weeks. A lot worse.

No, I’m not veering off into a political rant. I’m talking about the NFL playoffs.

There are eight teams remaining entering this weekend. After Sunday, there will only be four.

And two of them could be the Cowboys and the Chiefs.

The possibility of the Cowboys and Chiefs meeting on Feb. 5 for Super Bowl LI sends shivers down the spines of many Eagles fans. The Cowboys represent all that is evil in the football world. The Chiefs are led by Andy Reid.

The Cowboys are hated for obvious reasons. The “America’s team” crap, all of the ex-Cowboys on NFL broadcasts and studio shows (most of them awful, by the way), Jerry Jones and numerous other factors earn the Cowboys a special place in the darkest portion of Eagles fans’ hearts. But why the disdain for Reid?

We can start with Reid not being a likable figure while he was the Eagles’ head coach. Those who know Reid personally or have dealt with him individually or in small groups will tell you he’s not a bad guy. In fact, he’s a pretty good guy with a sense of humor. But the fans didn’t get to see that Andy Reid.

Most fans only got to see the Andy Reid who stood up at news conferences and droned on and on with repetitive mantras such as “I’ve got to do a better job” and “I’ve got to put them in better position to succeed” while revealing almost nothing. Reid’s news conferences were so similar that you could have constructed a mad lib-style script, leaving blanks for the opposing teams and players. Even Reid’s trademark “time’s yours” after his quick opening statement became a target for ridicule.

In news conferences, Reid’s tone could be curt and combative. But mostly it was monotone. Reid tried to be boring in public. It hurt his public image, but he thought it was the correct way for a coach to behave, revealing nothing and protecting his players.

Some fans also hold a grudge against Reid for not winning a Super Bowl. Not winning a Super Bowl is a characteristic shared by every Eagles head coach for the past half-century, but Reid’s sin is he got so tantalizingly close.

The Eagles lost in the NFC Championship Game in three consecutive seasons. The first loss, to the Rams in the 2001 season, is largely forgiven. But the embarrassing 27-10 loss to the Buccaneers the following season, in the Eagles’ final game at Veterans Stadium, was a heartbreaker that inflicted some permanent psychological scars. The futile effort during a 14-3 loss to the Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field the following season was the cherry on the sundae, although it seems perverse to use tasty sundae imagery to describe the misery of three straight losses in NFC Championship games.

The Eagles finally got over the NFC Championship Game hump the following season, reaching the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history. But that game, a 24-21 loss to the Patriots, is most frequently remembered for the Eagles’ lack of urgency during their late-game touchdown drive, which consumed more than 6½ minutes and left less than 2 minutes remaining when the Eagles pulled within three points.

By the time the Eagles got the ball back – after a failed onside kick – they were on their own 4-yard line with 46 seconds remaining and no timeouts left.

Reid’s poor clock management was a magnet for criticism long before the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. He was nearly transformed into the NFL’s poster boy for poor clock management.

Reid guided the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game again during the 2008 season, but that Super Bowl dream died in the desert with a 32-25 loss to the Cardinals. The Eagles rallied from a 24-6 halftime deficit with 19 unanswered points to take the lead, but Kurt Warner drove the Cardinals down the field for the winning touchdown and 2-point conversion with just another 3 minutes remaining. A final Eagles drive reached the Arizona 47, but four straight incomplete passes by Donovan McNabb sealed the Eagles’ fate.

The Eagles made five trips to the NFC Championship Game under Reid. They only won once. And their one Super Bowl opportunity ended in failure.

After so much postseason heartache, many Eagles fans will be less than thrilled to see Big Red win a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. Having former Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress as co-offensive coordinator and former Eagles cornerback Al Harris as secondary/cornerbacks coach also won’t engender much support for the Chiefs, although the presence of receiver Jeremy Maclin and backup quarterback Nick Foles might make rooting for the Chiefs slightly more palatable.

If faced with awful choice of Cowboys vs. Chiefs on Feb. 5, Eagles fans would probably have to hold their nose and root for the Chiefs.

But the Packers and Steelers could do Eagles fans a huge favor on Sunday by taking out the Cowboys and Chiefs, waking us from our collective postseason nightmare before the terror reaches its zenith.

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