When things go wrong in the NFL playoffs it’s only natural to try to pin the blame on somebody. For example, let’s say that the Eagles lose a playoff game by two points. During that game their kicker missed a field goal. Field goals are worth three points. Simple math indicates that if only the stupid kicker had done his job the Eagles would have advanced, right?
Of course this scenario did happen in the 2013 NFC Wild Card round. The New Orleans Saints beat the Eagles 26-24 in agonizing fashion on their home field. During the first quarter Alex Henery missed a field goal. There’s no doubt that ended up costing the Eagles, but to pin all the blame on Henery simply isn’t fair.
First of all, said field goal was 48 yards long and Henery was kicking into air that was 19 degrees with the windchill. That’s never a slam dunk no matter who your kicker is.
Secondly, the Eagles struggled to score throughout the game. The entire first half the Saints did a tremendous job of stuffing Philly’s run game with a solid man coverage scheme. You have to give defensive coordinator Rex Ryan some credit because his gameplan was a major factor in deciding the outcome.
Most importantly, when they had the opportunity for big gains the Eagles stumbled. Back in January Sheil Kapadia of Birds 24/7 broke down several plays where Nick Foles missed reads. In this example tight end Brent Celek is wide open down the field with a lot of space in front of him and only one safety to beat, and yet Foles dumped it off to Avant for a pitiful two yard gain.
There were other miscues on the offensive line and a couple of drops. The entire article is worth checking out.
Foles was playing in his first postseason game and I have to think that big stage jitters played a part in his progressions not being up to par. As brilliant as Foles was in 2013 and as poised as he played, it’s easy to forget that he had only played in 20 career games up until that chilly Saturday evening. With another year of experience under his belt Foles will be much less likely to make those same mistakes the next time the Eagles are in the playoffs.
Back to the field goal. Alex Henery won’t be confused with a great kicker any time soon, but even the best in the NFL would have had trouble putting that one between the goal posts. It’s a long game and it was one play, give the man a break.
The point is that a game of football is an incredibly complex thing. Blaming one player’s failure on one particular play for a loss is usually uncalled for, unless of course it’s Tony Romo in the fourth quarter.