Cardinals, blown leads cost Eagles Philadelphia 0-2 after 23-21 loss

September 17, 1990|By Terry Larimer | Terry Larimer,Allentown Morning Call

PHILADELPHIA -- Losing by a close score to the New York Giants is one thing; losing to the Phoenix Cardinals by any score is quite another.

Losing to one of the best teams in professional football on the road is one thing; losing, 23-21, to one of the worst at home is quite another.

No one was all that upset when the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Giants in their season opener, and maybe that was precisely the problem. Yesterday, the complacency continued -- particularly after the Eagles grabbed a 14-0 lead -- and now the team that didn't have anything to worry about suddenly seems to know it's time to panic.

Even though the Eagles face a tough road game with the Los Angeles Rams next, coach Buddy Ryan said he still thinks they can climb out of the hole. "I would think so," he said. "We've come out of them before, but it's just not the way to do business.

"You get a team like that and you keep giving them life, you dTC know what's going to happen to you."

Rookie safety Ben Smith summed up the young season: "All of a sudden, we're a Super Bowl contention team and now nobody knows where we're going."

The Eagles are a team in need of help, either internally or externally. Maybe they need to encounter a team as charitable as they are.

Yesterday, the Eagles just kept coming up with second chances for the Cardinals and if they didn't work, the Eagles came up with third and fourth chances.

Ryan said it could have been worse. "We've played a lot worse games than this. It was a good, hard-hitting game."

It might have been hard-hitting for the Eagles, but it was only good for the Cardinals.

Cardinals place-kicker Al Del Greco made his third consecutive field goal, a 42-yarder, with 25 seconds left to play to give his team a comeback win.

This was a Cardinals team that many National Football League observers were calling the worst in the league. It was so bad that Del Greco hadn't kicked a field goal in a month, or even tried one since his team never got him close enough.

And it doesn't have to be all that close for Del Greco, who also kicked one of 50 yards, plus a 25-yarder.

"I just gave it my best shot on both kicks at the end," he said of his two long ones. "I felt that I hit both kicks pretty good."

Joe Bugel, who got his first win as Cardinals head coach after last week's 31-0 loss to the Washington Redskins, said: "People kept telling us we don't have much. We hung tough. Coming from 14-0 down showed the true character of our football team. They wanted to win this game in the worst way."The Eagles sacked Cardinals quarterback Timm Rosenbach six times, two by Mike Pitts.

But the Cardinals countered with Rosenbach's scrambling, a couple of quarterback draw plays and a couple of draw plays to rookie running back Johnny Johnson, who led all runners with 88 yards on 22 carries.

Still, this was a game that should have been as easy for the Eagles as it started out to be.

They kicked off, immediately forced a punt and then scored on a 34-yard bomb from Randall Cunningham to rookie Marvin Hargrove that followed a 41-yard bomb from Cunningham to Calvin Williams, a former star at Purdue and Baltimore's Dunbar High.

Before the first quarter ended, Cunningham found Mike Quick on a 40-yarder down the middle to highlight a 70-yard drive that Cunningham capped with a 1-yard leap.

The Eagles continued to grind up the yardage and drove from their 13 to the Cardinals' 37 in the third quarter before Cunningham was tackled for a 7-yard loss on a key fourth-and-one call.

Rosenbach was sacked on the first play, but broke off an 18-yard scramble and four plays later Johnson broke right on a draw play and sprinted 22 yards for a touchdown.

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