PHILADELPHIA — “Idiot Man” was back at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday night.
Former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, known for his electric charges out of the tunnel during pregame introductions, morphed into his alter ego one more time before the Eagles took on the New York Giants.
Dawkins, who had his No. 20 jersey retired in a ceremony before the game, produced a deafening roar from the crowd when he crawled out of the fog on all fours, then did a little dance before joining the players at midfield.
Some fans also produced some of the loudest cheers about two hours before kickoff.
Dawkins, who spent 13 of his 16 NFL seasons providing big hits and terrific leadership for the Eagles, had his No. 20 jersey officially retired at the Linc’s Headhouse Plaza.
“First of all, Hallelujah!” Dawkins yelled. “It is an absolute honor. I’ve said a number of times that I didn’t grow up thinking I was going to get my number retired somewhere. I just wanted to go out and do my best and if my best wasn’t good enough, then I had to rely on another source of energy, my spiritual side, so that I could give you all some supernatural stuff.
“Thank you very much for this. This is a tremendous honor. I will always be an Eagle at heart.”
Approximately 1,000 fans squeezed into the room and filled a stationary escalator to watch Dawkins receive the honor from Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.
Dawkins, who retired earlier this year after playing three seasons in Denver, became the eighth Eagles’ player to have his number retired, joining running back Steve Van Buren (15), defensive back Tom Brookshier (40), tight end Pete Retzlaff (44), center/linebacker Chuck Bednarik (60), lineman Al Wistert (70), defensive end Reggie White (92) and defensive tackle Jerome Brown (99).
The crowd, most of which was sporting Dawkins jerseys, showered him with chants of “B-Dawk, B-Dawk” when Lurie introduced him. Lurie also presented him with a painting afterward.
“A Brian Dawkins doesn’t come along every day,” Lurie said. “Fearless as a player, fearless as a leader, priceless as a husband, father, co-worker and friend. He is one of the very best the Eagles ever and we are proud to prove it by retiring his number 20 and inducting him into our Hall of Fame.
“There was never any doubt that his name belonged right up there with them. Brian puts his heart and soul into everything he does. And it’s a big heart and it’s a big soul. Every one of us who saw him play, we remember he was the strong, passionate heartbeat of our team. He symbolized everything Philadelphia stands for: the passion, the hard work and the unstoppable spirit. He showed us all how this game ought to be played. When we look up there and in the stadium or the NovaCare Complex and see that number 20, it’s going to remind all of us every day to give it our all for each other and for all the fans.”
Dawkins was also honored by the team at halftime. A sellout crowd roared while a video of Dawkins’ greatest hits was played on the giant scoreboard screens. The tribute also featured a laser show and fireworks. Dawkins ended it by leading the crowd in singing the Eagles’ fight song, “Fly Eagles Fly.”
Back in action
Punter Mat McBriar made his regular-season debut for the Eagles.
McBriar was cut at the end of the preseason in favor of Chas Henry, but was re-signed on Tuesday after Henry was released. McBriar’s first punt against the Giants went for 56 yards.
Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin both played..
Dorenbos didn’t miss any games but sat out practice all week after suffering a high ankle sprain at Arizona. The team signed long snapper Kyle Nelson to the practice squad in the event Dorenbos would not be able to play, but he was not promoted to the active roster Sunday.
Maclin was back after missing the Cardinals game with a hip contusion. He entered the game with eight receptions for 119 yards and a team-high two receiving touchdowns.
Out of action
As expected, tackle King Dunlap (strained hamstring) and linebacker Akeem Jordan (strained hamstring) missed the game. Demetress Bell started his second straight game at left tackle while Jamar Chaney replaced Jordan at weakside linebacker. Chaney started instead of Brian Rolle, who has gone from starter to third-string backup since training camp began in late July.
Other Eagles inactives included safety Colt Anderson, wide receiver Riley Cooper, defensive end Vinny Curry, running back Dion Lewis and guard Nate Menkin.
Curry, a second-round draft pick this year out of Marshall University, has been inactive for every game.
The Eagles really missed Anderson and Jordan on special teams. Giants kickoff returner David Wilson had two returns of more than 50 yards in the first three quarters.
Bumps and bruises
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha missed the second and most of the third quarter with an unspecified eye injury.
Asomugha got hurt in the first quarter. The team originally announced that he had been taken to Wills Eye Hospital at halftime for further testing but later recanted. Asomugha was on the sideline at the start of the third quarter and returned for the final defensive series of the period.
Former Giants cornerback Brandon Hughes replaced him and played fairly well.
The Eagles make their first trip to Pittsburgh since 2004 next Sunday when they face the Steelers at Heinz Field. The Eagles own a 47-27-3 advantage, including a 22-19-1 mark in Pittsburgh. On their last trip there, the Steelers handed the Eagles their first defeat in a season that ended with a trip to the Super Bowl with a 27-3 victory.
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