What Happened Last Night: The Eagles’ Free Fall Continued, And The Magic Beat Dwight Howard
Welcome to another edition of “What Happened Last Night?” in which we aim to bring the major sports happenings of the previous evening to anyone who missed them. Tops on last night’s agenda: an NFC East battle of disappointing squads, and Dwight Howard facing his former team. Actually… that was really all the big stuff on last night’s agenda, so let’s take a look back.
The Eagles are hopeless. Tony Romo isn’t.
As the Eagles’ losing streak has worn on and on, one of the preferred stats to show just how badly the team is struggling is this: the Phillies have actually won a game more recently than their gridiron city counterparts. Well, one 38-33 Sunday Night Football loss to the Cowboys later – the Eagles’ eighth straight defeat – that still holds true. This was far from the Eagles’ worst game of the year: they actually threatened to win this one, leading 24-17 going into the final quarter. But bad teams find ways to blow games late, and surrendering 21 fourth-quarter points – the last of them thanks to a critical fumble by Bryce Brown, who otherwise played a terrific game – is one of the surest ways to let one slip away.
But let’s give the Cowboys some credit, too – in particular, that much-maligned quarterback of theirs, Tony Romo. Romo gets dumped on a lot, and best I can tell, that mostly has to do with: 1) him not leading the Cowboys to a repeat of their early-’90s glory days; 2) having once dated Jessica Simpson. It would have to be something unrelated to football, really, because looking at it objectively, his quarterbacking is quite good. While he’s been up and down this season (19 touchdowns, 15 interceptions), for his career he’s thrown almost twice as many TDs as picks and completed 65 percent of his passes.
And last night was a good night to acknowledge this (as both pro-Romo fans on Twitter and Cris Collinsworth on the air did), because Romo was outstanding. He completed 22 of 27 passes for 303 yards, three touchdowns and no picks, becoming the Cowboys’ all-time leader in touchdown passes while he was at it. Sure, he has multiple talented targets to throw to (Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin combined for 252 of those 303 yards), but every good quarterback does. Much as fans might enjoy ripping on Romo, here’s betting many of those same fans wouldn’t mind him being under center for their team of choice. (Including, at the moment, Eagles fans.)
The Magic’s revenge.
The Magic visited L.A. to play the Lakers last night, with a reunion of team and player on everyone’s mind. That’s right: this was Josh McRoberts’ first showdown with the Lakers since playing for them last year.
…OK, fine fine, kidding, the actual reunion everyone was anticipating was that of Dwight Howard and the team he tormented before the Howard-Magic saga finally, mercifully ended in his exit. And good news for the large contingent of fans who were completely turned off to Howard thanks to the way he left the Magic – for one night, the tormentor was the tormentee, and Orlando beat the Lakers 113-103.
How’d the Magic do it? Well, shooting 50 percent from the field and having four of five starters in double figures sure helped, but what also helped was the Hack-a-Dwight strategy – the Magic sent Howard to the line 21 times, and he made just nine. Poetic justice? Maybe, but I’m sure what Magic coach Jacque Vaughn would rather have everyone focus on was that this was an impressive performance by a team not expected to produce many of them before the season began. The Magic are still just 6-10, but they are a more viable NBA team than I – or, I suspect, most others – expected to see before the year began.
As for the Lakers? Uh… they’re not doing so hot. This latest loss drops the team to 8-9. We’re coming up on the quarter-season mark, and the team is nowhere close to fully putting it together. Granted, the full effect of the Mike-Brown-to-Mike-D’Antoni switch can’t be felt until Steve Nash comes back, but Nash had better have a massive impact on the Laker offense for this team to challenge for a title the way it was expected to. The Lakers have a lot more to worry about than the Magic getting some payback.
So, hope you didn’t wake up in the middle of the night and then find yourself unable to get back to sleep, since that’s especially unpleasant on a Monday. Not speaking from personal experience or anything.
Photos via Getty