Extra Points: Wildwood Win More Important than Eagles Loss
Close counts in Corn Hole, putts inside the leather during friendly games of golf, and when I try to carve a pumpkin using a stencil for Halloween.
It doesn't matter in the NFL.
Sure, the Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz in particular deserve credit for their second-half comeback in a 30-28 loss to the Ravens. But whether you lose by two or 22, it counts the same in the standings.
"I'm extremely proud of our football team for the way they fought," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "But there are no moral victories in the National Football League. We are exactly where we should be. We are 1-4-1."
Yes, they showed grit and determination and heart in the second half, which are all admirable qualities.
But if they deserve praise for nearly climbing out of a 17-0 hole, they deserve to be ripped for digging it in the first place.
The comeback wouldn't have been necessary if not for a terrible start. They were so bad in the first half, the 6,000 or so fans at Lincoln Financial Field had to wonder why they bothered showing up? I swore I saw the Mike Trout and Miles Teller cardboard cutouts shuffling toward the exit.
Every one knows about Trout's ties to Philly sports dating back to his days in Millville. Teller, who spent his childhood in Lower Township, also grew up an Eagles and Phillies fan. He still visits the area occasionally and has been known to hang out at the Cape May Beach Club while on vacation.
Like other fans, he was noticeably frustrated over Sunday's game. Afterward, he posted a photo the Eagles' web site on a laptop that read, "Missed Opportunities."
There were plenty, starting when John Hightower allowed Wentz's nifty deep pass to slither through his hands on the first series. The offense was ineffective for most of the game, mainly due to a leaky offensive line - guard Jamon Brown was horrible - that allowed Wentz to be punished to the tune of six sacks and 16 quarterback hits. Wentz did himself no favors with a costly fumble that led to a Ravens touchdown in the first half.
Wentz did an admirable job of rallying the Eagles in the fourth quarter, reeling off a career-best 40-yard run, throwing TD passes to new tight end Jason Croom and wide receiver Travis Fulgham, respectively, and also bulling into the end zone on a 1-yard sneak with 1:55 left in regulation that left the Eagles within two points of a tie.
The conversion was a disaster, however. Wentz was buried as soon as the play unfolded.
"The resilience of this team is something you can't question," Wentz said. "The effort and the fight we showed is something we can learn from and be proud of."
If you want to talk about resiliency and perseverance in the face of adversity, allow me to introduce you to the Wildwood High School football team.
The Warriors ended six years' worth of disappointment and frustration by snapping a 47-game losing streak with a 30-6 victory over Lindenwold at Maxwell Field earlier Sunday. It was the state's longest current losing streak.
It was a long time coming for them. The last time they were able to celebrate was late in the 2014 season, when they beat Pleasantville 22-6 in a state consolation game.
All of the current Wildwood players were in elementary school that year.
Talent hasn't been a problem as much as a lack of depth. Wildwood routinely dresses fewer than 20 players for games and almost everyone plays both ways. For example, brothers Ernie and Dom Troiano play quarterback and wide receiver respectively. They are also the Warriors' safeties on defense.
Senior running back/linebacker Miguel Claudio, who scored on a 54-yard touchdown run Sunday, also never the left the field, even at halftime. During intermission, he was named Homecoming King.
"It feels amazing," Claudio told CoastSportstoday.com.
It was a just reward for those practices in the sweltering summer heat, for the times when they found themselves on the short end of lopsided scores, of watching a running clock tick off during another embarrassing defeat.
Victory tasted as sweet as the salt water taffy sold on the Wildwood Boardwalk.
"It's emotional (to end the slump) for sure," Wildwood coach Ken Loomis told CoastSportstoday.com. "I saw my little brothers get born, I got married (last year), but this is right up there, if not better. It really is."
Never mind that the Eagles lost.
More importantly, the Wildwood Warriors won.