No Cunningham? What, the Eagles worry? "This is the way we always are," said linebacker Seth Joyner. "If you're tight, you can't be yourself. We definitely won't be tight."
Philly wasn't tight. It just wasn't good enough to beat Phoenix. While Bugel fretted before the game about McMahon's presence—"He reminds me of Billy Kilmer, he's so tough," Bugel said—the big question among the Eagle coaches was whether an offensive line in its formative stages could protect McMahon, who has a history of missing games because of shoulder and knee injuries. As it turned out, it couldn't. Harvey abused fledgling tackle Cecil Gray, who played defense in college, getting by Gray for one sack of McMahon and four hard hits on him.
"Some of you guys don't think I can take a hit," said McMahon to the press after the game. "Well, you watch the film and see if I can take a hit." You can, Jim. But how many more?
McMahon wasn't the only Eagle the Cardinals defense knocked around. As running back Keith Byars prepared to throw an option pass late in the first quarter, inside linebacker Garth Jax plowed into Byars's midsection. The result: a wounded-duck pass that was intercepted by cornerback Aeneas Williams. The opportunistic Tupa then floated a 51-yard touchdown pass to Johnson. On the next series, Robert Drummond, a Philly scrub, fumbled at the Eagle 20, Phoenix recovered, and Greg Davis made his second of four field goals to give the Cards a 13-0 lead after one quarter.
Philly had fallen behind 16-0 when, with 5:47 to go in the half, it suffered through another frustrating possession, courtesy of the Phoenix defense. Scrambling to avoid the Cardinals rush, McMahon kept looking, looking, looking, trying to make a play. Cornerback Lorenzo Lynch launched him out of bounds with a clean whack. On the next play, just after completing a pass to Byars, McMahon was knocked woozy by Nunn. Downfield, on the same play, Byars fumbled. Phoenix recovered.
Still, Philly wasn't finished until it blew a big chance while trailing 19-10 in the final minute of the third quarter. Wideout Fred Barnett caught a McMahon pass in midstride at the Cardinals five, but as he neared the end zone he was drilled by Nunn and fumbled. Phoenix recovered.
The afternoon's last bit of drama, if you can call it that considering that the Cards were ahead 26-10 at the time, came near the Phoenix goal line with less than a minute to play. The game was history, sure, but in NFC East terms it wasn't over. On the Cardinals sideline, players and coaches screamed for their defense to keep Philly out of the end zone.
On first-and-goal from the two, Heath Sherman picked up a yard before being run out of bounds. On second-and-goal, Thomas Sanders burrowed for no gain. "Lord have mercy! Hold 'em!" Robbins yelled.
"Don't let 'em in!" bellowed cornerback Robert Massey.
"Fight 'em! Fight 'em! Fight 'em!" screamed Bugel.