''Fire Andy! Fire Andy!''
Each demanding chant bellowed by fed-up Eagles fans was the most emphatic sign yet that the faithful have turned for good on coach Andy Reid. Reid, who led Philadelphia to five NFC championship games, has been booed and criticized, with calls to talk radio asking for him to resign or for management to can him.
But never had they voiced their displeasure like this.
The screams reached a crescendo late in the third quarter of Sunday's 38-20 loss to the Patriots after the Eagles failed to convert a fourth-and-1 when Vince Young's pass sailed out of bounds. At the time, Philadelphia already trailed New England by 18, and this potential TD was mostly a last-gasp effort at a respectable score.
This much was clear: The Eagles' postseason chances have dried up.
|Vince Young called the Eagles the "Dream Team" before the season. (Getty Images)|
Reid might not get a chance to try again in 2012.
The only reason the brutal chants didn't return in the fourth quarter was because most of the 69,144 fans fled for the exits.
''You really don't hear much down there, so I didn't hear it,'' Reid said. ''The way we played, I can understand.''
DeSean Jackson heard the boos.
Jackson - the once dynamic wide receiver who showed flashes of becoming one of the franchise's greatest at that position - has turned into perhaps the most unreliable target on offense. He dropped a handful of passes and shied away from contact against the Patriots. His worst offense came when he short-armed a sure-thing touchdown catch because he heard footsteps.
Amid a contract dispute, Jackson said concern about his health was a factor in his style of play.
''Always. Always got to keep your head on a swivel,'' he said.
Was he worried about his health on that play?
''What'd you think?'' he said as he walked away from reporters.
Jackson was inactive two weeks ago as punishment because he missed a team meeting. He is in the final year of his rookie contract and held out for 11 days during training camp. Jackson was targeted 10 times but had only four catches for 73 yards.
Jackson was the only offensive starter benched in the fourth quarter even as the game spiraled into a blowout.
Reid refused to say Jackson had been punished, insisting he wanted to give other receivers an opportunity. Jackson may have lost his chance to become one of the highest-paid receivers in the league. Each dropped catch, each mysterious benching has become magnified because of the contract dispute.
''I've got to go out and do my job,'' Jackson said. ''Whatever happens, it's not like it's happening on purpose. Everybody has things they go through in life. Right now, it's something I've got to go through to better myself.''
He vowed he would bounce back, starting Thursday night at Seattle.
''One week, it's always different,'' he said.
One quarter, too.
|Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots is congratulated by head coach Andy Reid of the Philadelphia Eagles after the Patriots won 38-20 at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)|
Young filled in for the injured Michael Vick for the second straight game and staked the Eagles to a 10-0 lead. He threw for a career-best 400 yards - and it could have been more had it not been for Jackson.
Young proclaimed in training camp the Eagles were a Dream Team.
At 4-7, the Eagles are anything but that.
''You couldn't even dream that record for this team with the talent we have,'' Jackson said.
Reid refused to rule the Eagles out of playoff contention or blame embattled defensive coordinator Juan Castillo for the wretched effort. Reid made the questionable decision to move Castillo over from offensive line coach, and it has backfired in a big way.
''It's all the way around,'' Reid said of the blame.
Reid was second-guessed again Sunday on how he handled LeSean McCoy. McCoy, who led the NFL with 1,019 yards rushing, had only 31 yards on 10 carries.
Young came out firing. He tossed a 22-yard pass to Brent Celek on the first play from scrimmage. Then he connected with Riley Cooper for 58 yards to the Patriots 4. McCoy ran in from the 2 to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
|Nnamdi Asomugha of the Philadelphia Eagles walks off of the field after the New England Patriots won 38-20 at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2011 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)|
Reid did not announce a starting quarterback for Thursday. Vick broke two lower ribs in a loss to Arizona on Nov. 13. He got hurt on the second play of that game and stayed in, but hasn't practiced the last two weeks.
Cornerback Asante Samuel, a former Patriot, called this one of the most embarrassing losses of his career.
Even worse, the Eagles lost again at home. The defending NFC East champions fell to 1-5 in Philly and have dropped eight of nine at the Linc, including a playoff loss to Green Bay last January.
''You're supposed to be a great team at home, no matter what team you are,'' Samuel said. ''For some reason, we can't get home-field advantage to work for us.''
Nothing is working for the Eagles this season.
''New faces. New coaches. Takes time,'' Samuel said.
The Eagles are about out of time now.
Notes: Young is the sixth Eagles QB to throw for 400 yards. ... WR Jason Avant led the team with eight receptions for 110 yards and his first touchdown of the season. It was his fourth career 100-yard game.
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