Eagles, Bucs served humble pie

Steelers wide receiver Arnaz Battle attempts to break a tackle from Eagles safety Nate Allen during...

Steelers wide receiver Arnaz Battle attempts to break a tackle from Eagles safety Nate Allen during their pre-season game Thursday night in Pittsburgh, Penn. The 'Dream Team' Eagles were crushed, 24-14. (Getty Images)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:20 PM ET

TORONTO - NFL pre-season games are usually not worth spit but for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thursday night was an early wake-up call, a slap upside the head for the two organizations.

Even before a ball was snapped, a pass was thrown, a few of the Eagles referred to themselves as the ‘Dream Team’, the NFL’s answer to the NBA’s Miami Heat.

But in their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a 24-14 loss where the score didn’t reflect the completely one-sided nature of the game, the dream was more of a nightmare.

“We all stunk tonight,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said after the sad affair. “It’s pre-season and we’re working through things, learning as we go, but still, you’ve got to do better than we did tonight.”

Maybe the Eagles thought it was going to be easy, maybe they bought into all the hype that has surrounded their team since newly acquired Vince Young coined the ‘Dream Team’ moniker at the end of July.

“From Nnamdi (Asomugha) to (Dominique Rodgers-)Cromartie to Jason (Babin) to myself,“ Young said back in July, “I know they are going to do some more things. It’s just beautiful to see where we’re trying to go.”

Even team president Joe Banner got into the act.

“It’s a scary term,” Banner said at the time. “But somebody wrote the words ‘The Eagles are all in,’ and that’s how we look at it. We’re doing anything and everything we can, we’re being aggressive about it, and the expectations are high.”

The Eagles are a good team and perhaps they will turn out to be a great team. They have the talent on paper but they will have to show that they can back up all the hype and be a team that can walk the walk.

So, in hindsight, it may be that one of the best things that could have happened to the Eagles was the hammering put on them by the Steelers.

In the first quarter when the first teams were in for both clubs, it was like Custer against the Sioux warriors.

Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in the game for just two series and against the Eagles starting defence he engineered drives of 80 and 96 yards, both of them resulting in touchdowns.

Then there was Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who may have come into the game totally exhausted after having to reverse his field so quickly regarding the controversial comments he made to GQ magazine where he said he wanted to sign with either Buffalo or Cincinnati but was nudged over to the Eagles at the suggestion of commissioner Roger Goodell.

Vick ended the game 5-for-12 for 47 yards and three interceptions.

“I think once we got down 14-0, I just started pressing the issue, and I think that’s a time when you have to be cautious and you have to be patient,” Vick said. “I knew I was only going to be in for two quarters and wanted to put some points on the board and pressed the issue too hard and wasn’t patient, and that goes against the quarterback’s rules — if you’re down 14 points, you have to let things happen, and I didn’t do that. Just forced some throws I wouldn’t normally make. That’s just not the way you can play football.”

It all means absolutely nothing, of course, but the Eagles’ coaching staff has got to be pleased that the beatdown happened in the second pre-season game and not in their season opener at St. Louis, Sept. 11.

“We feel like we have a great team,” Vick added. “We are capable of doing some big things this upcoming season. We are in a very humble state right now. I think as long as the guys can look back and look at the film and understand why things happened the way they did, then we can improve from it and move on. That’s the only thing that’s keeping me upbeat right now. We got a piece of humble pie today.”

As for that Dream Team thing, maybe it can be laid to rest.

Trouble for Tampa?

The Bucs were feeling all high and mighty about themselves following their first pre-season game against Kansas City where they crushed the Chiefs 25-0.

They are a team that was coming off a 10-6 season in the brutally difficult NFC South and were now fully expecting to take the next step and advance into the playoffs. And why not given they have a charismatic coach in Raheem Morris and a young, strong-armed quarterback in Josh Freeman.

But then came the game Thursday against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and that’s where reality hit the road for the Bucs.

This night they were outclassed in every facet of the game, a defeat so one-sided and so absolute that it has to give them flashbacks to last year’s season where they failed to defeat any team of quality.

Their 10 wins was more smoke-and-mirrors, seeing as they got to play the dregs of the league in Carolina (twice), Cleveland, Cincinnati, Arizona, Washington and Seattle.

The lone team of note that they beat were the Saints and that was in the regular-season finale in a nothing game for New Orleans.

So this game, even though it was pre-season, was a test to see how much improved the Bucs were from a year ago. The result should make them shudder.

“We needed to face a team like that in the second pre-season game,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “It shows us where we’re at, and now we can judge ourselves accordingly.”

At the half it was 28-0 and with Freeman at the helm, the Bucs offence produced drives of 1, 2, 13, minus-9 and 10 yards.

“I don’t know if it was a slap in the face, but it was a reality check,” guard Davin Joseph said.

Fortunately for the Bucs, their final two pre-season games are against Miami and Washington and that gives them time to regain their balance.

But then their season starts for real and instead of a pattycake schedule the Bucs have a real beast this time.

Chiefs already sour on Baldwin

What’s that they say about getting burned if you play with matches?

The word out of Kansas City is that wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, their first-round pick in this year’s draft, injured his wrist in a locker room fight with running back Thomas Jones and will be lost for an undetermined period of time ESPN reports.

To say that Baldwin has been a disappointment to this date is an understatement.

Reports out of the Chiefs’ training camp have him being a spoiled brat who won’t listen and doesn’t want to work. Sounds like the same poor work habits that surrounded him during his time at the University of Pittsburgh.

One of the reports about Baldwin at the time of the draft said the following:

“It’s easy to fall in love with Baldwin as a prospect. He has excellent size and good speed once he really gets moving. His hands are good and he catches the ball routinely away from his frame. However, there are a lot of questions out there about Baldwin’s effort. He’s had some lapses of inconsistency throughout his career, which are concerning.”

As for his history, in May of 2009, Baldwin was charged with assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. The charges were later dropped.

Seems like the Chiefs rolled the dice on the pick and it has come up craps.


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