In Ty Detmer's first NFL start, he got three quarters to get a feel for the job, courtesy of the Philadelphia Eagles defense.
Detmer finally got the Eagles going in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 19-10 victory over the New York Giants, but even then, it was the defense that scored Philadelphia's only touchdown.Maybe that explains why coach Ray Rhodes was reserved in his praise of Detmer, who took over as the Eagles' quarterback following Rodney Peete's season-ending knee injury.
"This was Ty Detmer's first opportunity," Rhodes said Monday. "We'll see what he can get done next week."
Detmer wasn't asked to do anything fancy or heroic, although he did take several big hits standing in the pocket as he waited that extra second to complete a pass.
And he didn't have impressive statistics: 18-for-33 for 170 yards.
Philadelphia's points came on Gary Anderson's four field goals and a fumble return for touchdown by William Thomas.
"We had chances to get it in," Detmer said. "I missed Mark Seay on a corner route. I wish I had that over again."
But overall, Detmer, the 1990 Heisman Trophy winner who spent his first four seasons as a backup to Brett Favre in Green Bay before signing this offseason with the Eagles, was pleased that he made few mistakes and took care of the ball, throwing no interceptions and not fumbling.
"It was a conscious effort not to have any turnovers, not to give them a short field to work with," Detmer said. "You just remind yourself: `Don't do anything stupid. Don't do anything crazy.' "
Rhodes said Detmer would have had better numbers were it not for the fact that Eagles receivers dropped at least seven catchable passes.
"We had some dropped passes and some opportunities we didn't take advantage of in the passing game," Rhodes said.
In a game won by a Philadelphia defense that surrendered only 150 yards, the Eagles' offense struggled in the first half, but came up with a big drive in the fourth quarter when it was most needed.
Trailing 10-9 with 8:05 left in the game, Detmer completed four of five passes in a 14-play drive that ended with Anderson's go-ahead field goal.
Although Detmer had timely contributions during the drive, the Eagles relied mainly on Ricky Watters, who ran eight times for 40 yards. It's an emphasis that has worked all season - and last - for the Eagles, and Rhodes said it won't change.
"The West Coast offense wasn't here last year," he said of the San Francisco-style, short-pass offense the Eagles were planning on using. "We ran the football."
The Eagles (4-2) didn't throw downfield against the Giants, but Detmer said that was because the Giants play a soft zone whose primary objective is to prevent the deep pass.
"We hit a lot of out routes underneath because they were playing off in coverage," he said. "If a team comes up and crowds us, we're going to try to take advantage of that. It just depends on the game plan."
Detmer was only sacked once, but the Giants mounted consistent pressure on him when he went back to pass, and he was knocked to the carpet several times.
Taking shots to complete passes was nothing new for Detmer. "Coming from a passing offense in college (Brigham Young), you're used to getting hit right after the throw," he said.
Asked if Detmer will hold up if he continues to take the kind of pounding he took against the Giants, Rhodes said, "I don't think anybody can withstand the hits he took."
"We have to do things better up front," he added. "I don't think any quarterback in the league can be successful without protection."
If the Eagles don't shore up their offensive line play, they could soon be starting their third quarterback of the season, newly acquired Mark Rypien.