Audition time as disappointing Eagles face Seattle
When Pete Carroll was in the midst of his championship run at USC, he knew the Trojans would play a nearly perfect game and it still wouldn't be enough to win.
That day came in the 2006 Rose Bowl on a night when Vince Young and Texas was unstoppable.
''I had said for years at `SC that we're going to go out and play the game that we want to play and it's about us and how we bring our game to it. Some time, somewhere down the road, some guy or a couple players find a way to play so far above the norm and they might beat us some day and we don't know when that's going to happen,'' Carroll said. ''That was that time - the night we faced him.''
For the first time since Young scampered 9 yards for a touchdown in the closing seconds to give Texas a 41-38 victory, Carroll and Young will be on the same field Thursday night when the Seattle Seahawks (4-7) host the Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) in a prime-time matchup with nearly zero importance.
Mathematically, the playoffs are still possible for both teams. Realistically, the Eagles and Seahawks are entering the stage where the final four weeks are auditions for next season.
Young would be at the top of the list for players trying to leave a good impression and not just with their current employers. Michael Vick is out yet again as he continues to recover from two broken ribs suffered on Nov. 13 against Arizona, so it's likely Young will make his third straight start against Carroll's Seahawks.
Young threw for a career-high 400 yards last week against New England, although most of it came in the second half after the Eagles were down 31-13, Most of the focus was on a heated sideline exchange between defensive line coach Jim Washburn and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg that added another layer of drama to the Eagles' underwhelming season.
Young says despite the opportunity he's receiving, he's not looking at it as an audition tape for when free agency comes after the season.
''I'm not really thinking about that right now,'' Young said. ''I'm just, like I said I want to go out there and compete and lead my team to combat and make sure that I'm calling the plays right, adjusting and doing all of the different things from practice and bring it out to the game field. So that's pretty much all that's on my mind.''
Young was nearly reunited with Carroll in another way, as Seattle took a look at Young before deciding to go with Tarvaris Jackson as its quarterback for this season.
''We see him as a dynamic football player. He's very comfortable in the pocket - just look at what he did last week in throwing for 400,'' Carroll said. ''He's very comfortable standing in the pocket; he's not a running quarterback any longer, although he's running the ball seven or eight times a game still very effectively. He's just growing up, just as guys do when they come into the league.''
Much of the criticism toward the Eagles from last week came because running back LeSean McCoy got just 14 total touches and 10 carries despite entering as the leading rusher in the NFL. He still holds that spot even after rushing for just 31 yards on 10 carries against the Patriots - 10 yards ahead of Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew - but McCoy's questionable with a toe injury.
Along with Vick, the Eagles have already ruled out wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for a third straight week with hamstring and shoulder injuries, and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie with an ankle. Even Nnamdi Asomugha is questionable while he nurses a sore left knee.
''The difficult part comes because it's just not the everyday week. It's shorter and we're going across the country, but besides that it's not that difficult,'' Asomugha said. ''We've been able to get everything in from Seattle and study up and we've been trying to get as much practice time and meeting time as possible, and then we'll get on the plane and go. It's difficult, but it's not as bad as it seems.''
Seattle kicked away most hopes of getting back into the playoff conversation against Washington when the Seahawks blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and were outscored 16-0 over the final 12 minutes in a 23-17 loss. The beginning of a rare three-game homestand against teams with losing records was supposed to be Seattle's chance at a return to relevance in a season based on rebuilding.
Instead, it became a stark reminder of how young and inexperienced the Seahawks remain in learning how to win with expectations.
''I feel like we just kind of self-destructed. We had a lot of stuff go wrong - penalties, bad execution, miscommunication - I mean, you name it, we had it,'' Jackson said. ''We had the game plan and we got it down to where we had it where we wanted. We wanted to run the football and had it 17-7 and after they responded, and the Redskins did a great job of responding.''
Seattle will be short-handed. Receiver Sidney Rice went on injured reserve after suffering a second concussion in less than a month against the Redskins. A number of other players are nursing injuries after the quick turnaround from Sunday. But the rest of the starters are expected to be ready, and try to quickly put behind last week's meltdown.
''We have to be on the little details,'' Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. ''That's what's been killing us all year. Little stuff gets us at the end of the game.''
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