Eagles must kick habit of poor performances in game before bye Print
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Friday, 28 September 2007 11:24
NFL Headline News

 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -The Philadelphia Eagles can't afford to look ahead to their week off this year.
For whatever reason - perhaps they're too busy planning golfing trips or beach getaways - the Eagles have struggled in games before a bye week under coach Andy Reid. Since Reid came to Philly in 1999, the Eagles are 3-5 preceding a bye. They're 8-0 the week after, but that's not important right now.
A loss to the New York Giants on Sunday could drop the Eagles (1-2) three games behind Dallas in the NFC East if the Cowboys beat St. Louis at home.
So, Reid might want to tell his players they're practicing next week just to keep their focus. The Eagles normally get the entire bye week off.
``The bye doesn't exist,'' All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins said. ``It makes no difference. This is a game we have to win, so the bye does not exist right now. It's all about this week. We're concentrating on this week, so we're not even thinking about the bye right now.''
Sounds a lot like what they were saying last season, and the year before.
The Eagles had their bye at exactly the midpoint of the season last year. They were 4-3 and coming off consecutive last-second losses - including one to Tampa Bay on an improbable 62-yard field goal by Matt Bryant - when the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars came to town last October.
Philly responded with a flat performance in a 13-6 defeat, and had to sit on three straight losses for two weeks.
In 2005, the Eagles were 3-1 and Terrell Owens was still wearing green instead of a star on his helmet when the bye week approached. A 33-10 loss at Dallas exposed a ton of weaknesses and the Eagles went into the bye searching for answers they never found.
``We just haven't played very well,'' Reid said of the pre-bye blues. ``We've got to play better.''
The Giants (1-2) are an ideal opponent for the Eagles this week. New York is coming off a win at Washington, but had plenty of problems in the first two weeks and is banged-up a bit.
The Eagles also have injury concerns. Halfback Brian Westbrook (abdominal strain) and Dawkins (neck) are questionable. Westbrook didn't practice last week, but had more than 200 total yards and three touchdowns in a 56-21 win over Detroit. Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard (knee) and left tackle William Thomas (knee) are doubtful. Tight end L.J. Smith (groin) is out.
William James, who started the last two games for Sheppard, lacerated his finger in Friday's practice and he's also questionable. James is hoping to play his first game against the team that originally drafted him. He had to sit out the Eagles' victory at New York last December after getting hurt in pregame warmups.
Philadelphia has won seven of the last eight against the Giants, including a 23-20 victory in a wild-card playoff game in January.
``It's a new season, a new game, and Philly is always an important game, always a physical battle, and always seems to come down to the very end no matter when we play them,'' Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. ``We know it's going to be a dogfight and you're going to have to play your best to win.''
 

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