Are the Eagles playing 'dirty?'

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
11:38
AM ET
Apparently, the teams in the rough, tough AFC North aren't happy with the way the Philadelphia Eagles are playing football this year. This post by AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley makes mention of complaints by Pittsburgh Steelers players in the wake of their victory Sunday over the Eagles, and likens them to comments made by Baltimore Ravens players after the Eagles beat them last month:
"Yeah, Ben was mad. He thought they were going after his head," left guard Willie Colon told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "They were cheap-shot artists all day. They were hitting us in the back. I know I lost my cool once or twice. It is what it is. You have to play through it."

It was last month when the Ravens were voicing the same sentiments. "They play dirty," Ravens fullback Vonta Leach said after the game in Philadelphia. "They take shots after the play, a lot of dirty stuff after plays. We weren't going to back down. We weren't going to take that. Anytime someone thinks they're a bully, you got to step up or they'll keep doing it."

What's funny is that Eagles players were in their locker room after the Baltimore game saying the same exact things about the Ravens -- using words like "bully" and talking about their refusal to back down in the face of it. So it's kind of hard to base this stuff on the things players say right after games when they're still fired up and sore.

I haven't seen anything from the Eagles I'd consider blatantly "dirty," and I think it's worth considering the sources of the complaints, as they are both teams that have been on the other side of these types of conversations in recent years. But I do think the Eagles came into this season with a determination to out-tough teams. Andy Reid and his coaches stressed throughout training camp the importance of conditioning, both physical and mental, as a means of avoiding the fourth-quarter collapses that did in the Eagles in the early part of last season. It seems to be working. To this point in the season, the Eagles have been a much tougher and more formidable second-half team than they were in 2011. It's entirely possible that comes with a bit of extra aggression and even some of that would be a bit extracurricular. My guess is it bothers teams like the Steelers and Ravens when teams do to them what they're used to being able to do to other teams.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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