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November 07, 2022

John McMullen: Eagles equipped to handle Philly spotlight after Phillies, Union losses

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For one day in November, the passion of Philadelphia became an afterthought.

The Eagles played second fiddle to the Phillies last Thursday night, something evidenced by the local television ratings:

The unbeaten Eagles took care of the hapless Texans in a workmanlike fashion, 29-17. They did finally suffer a setback when it comes to eyeballs, however, with the Phillies’ bid to upset the good team in Houston doing a massive 25.9 rating and 50 share, while the football diehards still produced an 8.7 and a 16 share.

Two-thirds of the people watching television in the Delaware Valley were watching sports and a good chunk of the other third probably lost the remote and went to streaming options.

Even though the NFL is king when it comes to television ratings choosing the Phillies was the logical choice for the 4-for-4 fan. It was World Series vs. midseason football, a magical run against baseball’s version of stormtroopers vs. Goliath trying to figure out how to beat boredom against the equivalent of what isn’t even David but perhaps his puny cousin.

Saturday turned out to be midnight for Philadelphia’s Cinderellas, however.

The Phillies finally succumbed to the Astros when the bats went silent for a third consecutive game.

To jump on that dogpile, the Union snatched defeat from the jaws of victory earlier in the day by failing to bleed two minutes off the clock of the MLS Cup and then losing on penalty kicks to a Mayfair native and La Salle product, John McCarthy, who once played for the Union and was only on the pitch in the biggest moment because Los Angeles FC’s starting goalkeeper broke his leg in-game.

Talk about torture, Philadelphia became the first sports city to be eliminated in championships on the same day in history.

A superstitious sort might point to the sports gods dishing out the discipline for the short-term cheating on the heavyweight in the city in favor of the Rocky-type teams that usually define Philly’s allegiances.

Now everything from a focus standpoint returns to normal and back to the main event.

This time, though, the only rabbit foot Philadelphia needs can be tied to injuries, the one NFL equalizer always lurking.

You already saw the effect of losing Jordan Davis to a high-ankle sprain in Houston and that will continue for at least another three games with the big rookie on injured reserve. Another issue this week could be the health of slot cornerback Avonte Maddox, who seemingly tweaked his hamstring on punt coverage late against the Texans.

When it comes to performance, jinxes don’t exist for the talented.

You can also rest assured that despite Jason Kelce’s wonderful cameo on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” after the 2017-18 Super Bowl run, everything doesn’t matter when it comes to how fans decide to root for their favorites.

The Eagles are the only undefeated team in the NFL and 8-0 for the first time in franchise history because they are very good. They’ve been the Astros of the NFL for the first half of their schedule and it’s a lot easier to reach the ultimate goal when you’re the team with more difference-makers.

That was highlighted again on Sunday when No. 2 in the NFC on paper, Minnesota, which already got thumped by the Birds, hardly looked like worldbeaters in edging Washington, and Buffalo, the one team so explosive that everyone shakes in their boots, managed 17 points against the New York Jets and lost for the second time.

Josh Allen, the only player ahead of Jalen Hurts in the MVP race when it comes to the betting markets, explained the Bills loss in a unique fashion, "It's tough to win when your quarterback plays like s--t," something the Eagles' signal-caller has yet to do this season.

In many ways, the Eagles seemed a little relieved to get a bit of a respite from the microscope they are always under during the Phillies’ unexpected run.

They also always understood that was going to end and now that microscope is about to become of the high-powered variety because the Sixers and Flyers are not going to be realistic contenders in the winter sports.

This Philadelphia team is well-equipped to handle all the expectations so make amends with your sporting deity if you need the sugar pill, but understand Nick Sirianni’s team is the vaccine for the city's insecurity.

You can even throw the underdog masks away. This time you’re the big dawg.


John McMullen is a contributor to PhillyVoice.com and covers the Eagles and the NFL for Sports Illustrated and JAKIB Sports. He’s also the co-host of “Birds 365,” a daily streaming show covering the Eagles and the NFL, and the host of “Extending the Play” on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com. Follow John on Twitter: @JFMcMullen

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