Eagles news and notes for 10/31 (Happy Halloween!)
Murphy: Lack of receiver talent painfully glaring - Daily News
Fear not, Eagles fans. The news here is actually quite good. Yes, your boys in green snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and, yes, that hissing sound you heard was their playoff aspirations deflating into the soft Lone Star night.
But at some point this offseason, the coaches who keep telling you that their pass-catchers are good enough are going to gather in a conference room with the personnel men responsible for improving the roster, and unspoken among them will be the memory of what they witnessed in Sunday night's 29-23 stinker in Big D.
That, right there, is the silver lining. While Dez Bryant almost single-handedly kept his team within striking distance, his counterparts on the opposite sideline turned the game into a clinic on why their bosses need to make finding a legitimate No. 1 receiver a priority in order to maximize the talent they have in their fireballing rookie quarterback.
Eagles-Cowboys Instant Observations - Birds 24/7
Dez Bryant’s 53-yard reception against Leodis McKelvin set up the Cowboys’ first-quarter touchdown as Bryant beat McKelvin by a few steps and Dak Prescott delivered a beautiful deep ball. Jim Schwartz dialed up a blitz, so the Eagles were in cover-1 and McKelvin was without much help over the top.
However, McKelvin had a good pass break-up in the red zone against Bryant on a fade near the end of the second quarter on the play before Hicks’ interception. McKelvin also made a great play to break up a pass on third down in the fourth quarter against Bryant. McKelvin rebounded very nicely after the big early completion he allowed.
Nolan Carroll gave up Bryant’s 22-yard touchdown catch, but Carroll’s coverage wasn’t bad. Bryant made a great play, and he showed how helpful it can be for a rookie quarterback to have dangerous weapons at receiver.
Brandon Graham showed up to play in the first half in Arlington, particularly on his three-yard tackle-for-loss that helped force Dallas to settle for a field goal early in the second quarter. It appears Graham knew where the play was going before the snap as he jumped inside several seconds before the play.
How the collapse unfolded - PennLive
The Eagles (4-3) had a 10-point lead and eyes on a back-breaking drive with about 13 minutes to play when Smallwood, a rookie, took his first handoff of the game. He coughed it up, the Cowboys (6-1) pounced on it and the game underwent a seismic shift.
Yet Philadelphia still could have seized on further chances to polish off their divisional rivals. The Eagles held a 23-16 lead when they controlled the ball at the Cowboys' 32-yard line with eight minutes to play.
But instead of using the running game to ensure a comfortable field goal try, the Eagles called a trick play that resulted in an incompletion on first down and a screen pass that lost six yards on third down. Philly punted. Suddenly, the Cowboys had possession and an avenue to tie the score.
Once more, however, the Eagles could've drained hope from the Cowboys and a lively Dallas crowd. A third-down stop in Dallas territory would've done the trick. Except when Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott slipped out of the pocket and hit Cole Beasley downfield with a dart of a throw, Philly let another game-defining play swing in the Cowboys' favor.
Sielski: Pederson’s night goes from good to bad in a hurry - Inquirer
The shame of Sunday for Pederson is that, until that fateful final quarter, in the aggregate he had outcoached the Cowboys' Jason Garrett. In the starkest contrast from the Eagles' two losses this season, for once they weren't the ones damaging themselves with too many penalties. They committed just five, one week after committing seven against the Vikings - a gradual and necessary improvement after they'd been flagged 27 times against the Detroit Lions and the Redskins. Pederson had them buttoned up for the most part, and from allowing Carson Wentz the chance to move the offense into field-goal range late in the first half to using a no-huddle approach to get the Dallas defense off balance in the third quarter, he was doing some of his best button-pushing of his rookie season.
Nevertheless, for all those good things, Pederson was bound to learn a cruel lesson of coaching: that a single simple choice can change everything for the worse. That choice came midway through the fourth quarter, when he had Wentz dump the ball to Darren Sproles on third down in Dallas territory. The Cowboys knew what was coming. Hell, everyone in AT&T Stadium did. Sproles had nowhere to go, and the six-yard loss backed the Eagles far enough from the end zone that punting the ball became the prudent course of action.
Up 10 in Dallas in the 4th quarter. And then Dallas outscores you 19-3 to win the game in overtime. What a friggin’ nightmare.
Doug Pederson had his worst game of the year. Receivers dropped key passes. STs allowed a fake punt to go for a 30-yard game and kickstart a scoring drive. The defense played really well at times, but couldn’t get off the field on the game-tying drive or in OT.
What an absolutely frustrating loss.
Dallas now sits at 6-1 with a comfortable lead. The Eagles are tied with the Giants at 4-3.
I’m too pissed off to right any worthwhile analysis right now. That was such a winnable game and the Eagles blew it.
That’s the first time all year this team has built a 10-point lead and blown it.
Aside from the standings, the Dallas hype train and the Dak Prescott worshiping is going to make it brutal to watch/read/listen to football coverage for at least the next week.