The Eagles went down to Dallas in primetime tonight and got themselves a measure of revenge. After three straight losses to the Cowboys last season, the Eagles exorcised their demons with a big 30-27 win that puts the Eagles in very good shape in the NFC playoff picture. With the win, the Eagles move to 9-4 and atop the NFC East. They also hold a game lead in the wildcard race over everyone but the Saints.
The name of the game for the Eagles offense tonight was big plays and they pretty much all came from Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. I'll start with McCoy, whose 149 yards rushing was a career high. The big thing is that he was 10-for-135 in the second half. His big highlight was a 56 yard run, but the way he just sliced through the Dallas defense on the final drive was a thing of beauty.
Actually, let me digress a bit about that last drive. Dallas had just scored a TD to close the gap to three points. Jorrick Calvin gets a stupid penalty on the ensuing return and the Eagles are pinned back. The crowd is back in the game and Dallas is feeling good. The Eagles offense takes the ball with four and half minutes left and runs 9 straight times for 63 yards to put the game away. There was one great play from Michael Vick in there, but otherwise it was all LeSean McCoy and the offensive line just blowing Dallas away. Great end to the game.
Headlines and notes after the jump
DeSean Jackson had himself a big night. His 210 yards receiving were the third most in a single game in franchise history. He was behind only Tommy McDonald, who had 237 on 12/10/61, and Kevin Curtis, who had 221 on 9/23/07 in the ugly uniform game. He struck early with a big 60+ yard catch on the first play of the game and then all but broke Dallas with an amazing 91 yard TD in the fourth quarter. It was a simple out pattern that the CB Mike Jenkins tried to jump but missed. Jackson made the catch, turned up the field and was gone. It was the longest play from scrimmage in the NFL this season. Afterward he did this...
By the way, DeSean Jackson was flagged for "excessive celebration after the play." Was it excessive? Sure... Was it after the play? Nope... It seems like they just wanted to flag him. As far as I know there's no rule against excessive celebration during a play.
It looks like Stewart Bradley's injured elbow is going to keep him out for at least the remainder of the regular season. That's a tough blow for an already shaky defense especially considering that Bradley had finally started to look like his old self in recent weeks. Jamar Chaney did a solid job against the run tonight, but had his struggles against the pass. Of course, so does Bradley..
It was another three TD game for Michael Vick. It should tell you something about how this guy is playing this season when this wasn't one of his better games. He got knocked around like he has all year and kept answering the bell. He did have two picks tonight, one that was definitely his fault and one that was definitely not... He threw for 270 yards and two TDs while running for another. That rushing TD was his 7th of the year, which broke the Eagles franchise record for rushing TDs by a QB in a season. It’s pretty impressive for Vick to break that record for a franchise that has had running QBs like Donovan McNabb & Randall Cunningham playing for it, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that he did it in just eight starts…
Todd Herremans had easily his best game of the season. He was flat out dominating on the final drive and generally played really well throughout... plus he caught a TD pass!
Gotta mention David Akers. Quietly has to be one of the team MVPs this season. He hit three FGs tonight, including one from 50 to keep the pressure on Dallas. In the end, three points was the margin of victory.
The defense... I could write a thousand words on what I thought about the defense tonight(maybe I will) but I'll keep it simple here. They did a great job against a Dallas rushing attack that has really played well as of late, but otherwise I thought they were poor. Dimitri Patterson did get a big pick in the fourth, but he also extended two Cowboys drives with bad third down penalties. The fourth down play on Dallas' last drive where two Eagles have Jon Kitna in their grasp and let him slip away to run for a first down was arguably the worst play I've seen from this team all year. If Michael Vick does that, you chalk that up to him being a special physical specimen. When Jon Kitna does it, you should be embarrassed. That play would have ended the game, but instead it lead to a Dallas TD and gave Dallas all the momentum with 4:22 left and down only three. Luckily the offense would shut the door, but that doesn't excuse the defense. Next week they'll hopefully get Asante Samuel back, but as I said earlier they'll be without Stewart Bradley.
Bottom line is... it's a win in December against the Dallas Cowboys and for now we're on top of the NFC East. That's a pretty good thing. Next up, the Eagles go on the road against the Giants in a game that could end up deciding the NFC East. The Giants will play the Vikings tomorrow night in Detroit.