Cowboys crush Eagles; Nick Foles makes NFL debut

Andy Reid delivered his postgame press conference in front of a black banner advertising Ricoh. On it, the words “Imagine” and “Change” were written. It was a fitting commentary for what may unfold over these next seven weeks.

For the first time in 14 seasons, after another embarrassing loss — a 38-23 shellacking to the hated Dallas Cowboys Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field — the future is uncertain in South Philadelphia. The Eagles have dropped five straight games, something that has never happened under Reid’s watch. The coach continues to preach that he’ll get it right. That he’ll fix the 3-6 mess of a season.

“I take full responsibility, so I’m going to do a better job,” Reid said. “The players are going to do a better job, and we’ll get it right.”

Maybe he will. It’s not impossible. Judging by the sloppy product on the field, however, it seems highly unlikely. The players say they still believe in Reid. They say the effort is there. They just need a few lucky bounces, a couple of big breaks.

“It’s not a lack of effort, it’s just the ball isn’t bouncing our way, to be honest,” Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “We just got to keep fighting back. It’s definitely not a lack of effort.”

For three quarters, it looked like the Eagles were winning the good fight. They were leading 17-10 and rookie Nick Foles had the sold-out stadium rocking. Even the defense was playing with a renewed energy, flying around the ball and pressuring Tony Romo.

Then, Romo bought some time and hit Dez Bryant 30 yards down the field on a Cirque du Soleil-style touchdown. Rodgers-Cromartie had a hand in there, but he was a few centimeters short. Game tied.

“We are just not coming up with plays when it counts,” Cullen Jenkins said. “That is a big thing and when you look at any championship team, they go through tough stretches but when they have to make a play, they do. We have to figure out a way to do that.”

Foles, who was filling in for a concussed Mike Vick, played a decent game. He finished 22-of-32 for 219 yards (85.3 QB rating) and a score. But the rookie showed his inexperience on a fourth-quarter interception that was returned 47 yards for a touchdown and seemingly sealed the Eagles’ fate. Foles also fumbled in his own end zone with 53 ticks left.

“Not good enough,” Foles said, when asked to assess his performance. “I made some mistakes. I can’t turn the ball over and that’s the most important thing to win games. I’m going to learn from it and get better.”

Whether Foles gets another shot is anybody’s guess. Reid confirmed that Vick will continue to be his starting quarterback, if healthy. And that’s a big if. Vick left Sunday’s loss midway through the second quarter and never returned. The scope of his concussion was still unclear.

“Mike’s the leader of this team and he was doing a great job and it was unfortunate [that he got hurt] and I’m just praying for Mike’s health,” Foles said.

So the 2012 season, which one fan’s sweatshirt billed as the Andy Reid Farewell Tour, rolls along. Next stop, Washington, D.C. Mathematically, the Eagles are still alive. They’ll continue to fight a premature death and perhaps make a heroic playoff run.

“We are going to fight,” said LeSean McCoy, who had just 16 carries for 82 yards. “I have no quit in me and I am sure the guys around me will continue to fight. I believe once we get it all together, we should dominate.”

Dominate? Strong words. Imagine and change might be a better choice of words.

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