Pro Football Focus released their grades for the Eagles week 16 matchup with the Cowboys and among their "performances of note" was the play of the Eagles secondary without Asante Samuel. I found it especially encouraging to see them single out Nate Allen for good play for the second week in a row.
With Asante Samuel out and the Cowboys' strong receiving targets, the Eagles needed to make sure their secondary wasn't going to be a reason for concern. Some of their lesser known players stepped up like safety Nate Allen (+3.0 coverage) who used his physical nature to prevent two passes from being caught by hitting the receiver while in the act, which forced two dropped passes. While he was thrown at five times, he allowed just one catch for no yards. With Samuel out, Joselio Hanson (+1.5 coverage) continued to see extended playing time. He did his part by shedding a block by Jason Witten on a bubble screen to stop Miles Austin for no gain, and deflected a pass to Austin in the end zone late in the game. As a unit, the linebackers have struggled in coverage in the past, but all five linebackers who saw playing time had a positive coverage grade. Everyone stepping up went a long way in keeping Dallas out of the end zone.
Their game ball went to Jeremy Maclin who caught 5 balls for 72 yards and a TD.