With his team’s playoff chances down to slim and none, coach Rich Koti
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ With his team’s playoff chances down to slim and none, coach Rich Kotite is counting on pride to motivate the Philadelphia Eagles for the final four games of the season.
The Eagles (5-7) dropped at least two games behind five NFC contenders (Dallas, Chicago, Green Bay, Detroit, New Orleans) for three wild-card spots after losing to the Cowboys 23-17 Monday night. They have lost seven of the last eight.
At this point, they are left with the role of spoilers, starting Sunday at home against the Buffalo Bills.
″We have people who have a lot of pride,″ Kotite said Tuesday. ″We’ve come up short but certainly have had opportunities to win games if we made a couple of (big) plays. ...
″Mathematically we (still) have a chance, but it’s very difficult at this juncture. We have to do two things: first win, secondly get help down the line from other people.″
Despite the urgency to win, Kotite said he will continue to give younger players a chance.
″We have done that along the way and we’ll do some more,″ he said. ″We started three rookies on offense (against Dallas) and we have more and more young players playing. We’ll get these people more involved.″
Kotite referred to running back Vaughn Hebron, wide receiver Victor Bailey and guard Lester Holmes, the team’s No. 1 draft choice in 1993.
Kotite was proud of the effort against the Cowboys.
″We came up short but we showed a tremendous lot of character to come back (down 16-0 in the second quarter) and make it the game it was,″ he said.
″Again it came down to the end and we weren’t able to get it done. I think a lot of teams, prior even to this game, would have lessened their intensity and quit.″
Kotite said the game turned with almost 13 minutes left in the fourth period when Matt Bahr missed a 44-yard field goal effort that would have reduced the deficit to 16-13.
The Eagles didn’t get the three points, and on the next play, Emmitt Smith raced 57 yards to set up a Dallas touchdown that clinched the game.
″He should have made that kick,″ the coach said. ″That certainly changed the complexion of the game around.″
Said Bahr: ″I don’t have an excuse for it. I got a solid hit on the ball and it just hit the post. That play changes our whole strategy at the end because it means we have to go for a touchdown, instead of maybe a field goal.″
Bahr, who connected on a 25-yarder on the last play of the first half that made it 16-3, has hit three of his last six kicks. Is Kotite ready to turn to someone else?
″I haven’t put much thought into it,″ the coach said.