So, we wound up with a tie. I guess, this close to Christmas, we shouldn’t be surprised. How many of us have received ties this time of year, only to be mildly disappointed? I mean, it could be worse, right?
Here are a few plays that really bothered me:
1) On the opening drive, on the play that DJ fumbled, watch the play in slo-mo, and focus on Evan Neal, who pulls and leads DJ through the hole. He trips over his own feet, and whiffs on the block on Jamin Davis (#52), who winds up putting his helmet right on the ball, forcing the fumble…and then recovers it as well. If Neal keeps his footing/balance, and simply gets in Davis’ way, DJ not only doesn’t fumble, he picks up the first down out to about midfield. Neal had lost his balance and whiffed on a lead block on the first play of the game, but Saquon managed to pick up 3 yards anyway. Neal just has to get better at his footwork. He’s on the ground way too often.
2) On the ensuing drive, Brian Robinson takes a toss sweep on 2nd and 10 from our 22, and easily outruns Ximines, who came crashing down the LOS for some reason, and failed to set the edge. ILB McFadden is nowhere to be found, and Safety Jason Pinnock comes up from his single-high Safety position to…completely miss the tackle at about the 10-yard line. Robinson niftily side-steps Pinnock, but inexplicably, steps out of bounds at the 6-yard line, when it appeared he could’ve almost walked into the end zone. (That poor decision by B-Rob was huge, because Washington wound up settling for a FG on that drive.) What bothers me is our continued inability to stop the run. Our LBs (especially the ILBs) do not maintain their gap & edge responsibilities, and teams gouge us for big runs like this, even with Dex & Leo kicking butt and holding it down between the Guards.
3) On the final drive in OT, DJ hits Richie James to get us nearly into field goal range, as the clock is winding down. As James gets up off the ground, with about 22 seconds left and with no time outs, James tries to hand the ball to a ref, but is clearly, blatantly obstructed with by #52, Jamin Davis, who literally grabs James with both hands and prevents him from handing the ball to the ref for a few valuable seconds. As a result, there are only 15 seconds left after we spike the ball. We then complete one last, 3-yard quick out to Bellinger. But if there were ~18 seconds left, there may have been time for DJ to see that Saquon was breaking open further upfield on the medium route on what was a three-level combo along that right sideline. DJ was probably thinking that he had to take the first open sideline read, and then hope to have time for one more throw, rather than waiting for a deeper route to possibly come open, but possibly not, and then not have anyone to throw to. If DJ hits Barkley, who was coming free at around the 30-yard line, that FG would’ve been more like a 47-yarder, and I have no doubt that makes it.
Oh well, yet another in a decade of "what if’s"…I guess we haven’t finished paying off our debt with the Devil for those two Eli SB rings yet!