Eagles Outwitted By Cowboys
It’s a game of inches. If the Eagles didn’t know that already, they do after tonight’s disappointing loss to the resurgent Cowboys. For all intents and purposes, the outcome was decided on a 4th and inches spot. Referee Walt Coleman originally marked a McNabb sneak short of the first down. Reid challenged. It looked to me as if McNabb got enough to gain a new set of downs. Walt Coleman didn’t agree.
The ball was turned over to the ‘Boys at the Birds 45-yard line. Four plays later, Miles Austin – who had been held without a catch – beat Sheldon Brown for 49-yard touchdown. Pack up the equipment and Gatorade. Game over.
It seemed like a listless game by both offenses. It was evident early on that both defenses dedicated their respective gameplans to stopping the big play. For the most part, it worked. Well, except for that long touchdown to Austin.
It’s late and I’m tired from a long day of football. I’ll be back tomorrow with a more in-depth breakdown, but here are a few general observations.
- If Jason Peters is out for an extended period of time, this offense is in serious trouble. When he left with a sprained ankle, it was an absolute horror show, and King Dunlap had nothing to do with it. Herremans shifted to left tackle, Nick Cole to left guard and a totally clueless Stacy Andrews to right guard. Both Herremans and Andrews gave up sacks. It was frighteningly bad how disjointed the line looked. At this point, I have no idea why Stacy is allowed on the field. Jay Ratliff abused him all game.
- Another erratic game for Don. He threw high and low, and never found a groove. A couple drops didn’t help, but once again, as he did against the Raiders, he was way off his game. From my vantage point, he had plenty of time in the second half to set and throw, but still couldn’t connect. Two interceptions and at least two others that could have been picked is not going to cut it.
- Once again, Reid was befuddled by challenges, which was costly at the end of the game. You can’t enter a fourth quarter with only one timeout left in a tight game. This was not Reid’s finest day in the management department. He seems to have one or two games like this every season.
- The Cowboys laid out a blueprint on how to take away the deep ball. I would expect every opponent from here on out to do the same. DeSean was invisible and Maclin had some communication issues with Don. Chalk it up to a rookie still learning the ropes.
- Why oh why isn’t Leonard Weaver the designated short-yardage back? The dude does not get blown up in the backfield. Eight carries for 33 yards. Do the math. He’s a 245 straight-line bruiser who averaged four yards per carry. If it’s third and one or two, give him the damn ball. They finally figured this out with about seven minutes to go, but it was too late.
- Poor third down offense (4/12) and third down defense (7/15). It’s pretty simple. If you can’t extend drives on offense or get off the field on defense, you won’t win.
- I thought Shady played a solid game. He danced on a couple runs, but overall did the job. 115 total yards. He was clearly the best offensive player.
- More foolish penalties proved very costly. 8 for 82. Two by Fokou were especially bad. A holding call away from the play negated a beautiful return for six by Hobbs. The second one, a low block, eliminated a nice return by Sheldon after an interception. Leading 13-10, they had a shot to get more points in Dallas territory. Not to be.
- They are running out of linebackers. Akeem Jordan, who had a nice game, got his knee bent backward late. It didn’t look good. With Gocong already sidelined, this could be problematic down the stretch.
It was an odd game. The Cowboys played better, got the bounces and were afforded some very questionable calls. Bottom line: the Eagles need to find a way to win close games. They also need to find a way to get DeSean the ball. Move him around the formation or use him in the Wildcat or on end-arounds. Something! He is their best weapon and must be utilized.
I come away from this loss with the belief that the Eagles can beat anybody if they clean up the sloppy plays and mental collapses. This is a young team and youthful errors are showing on a weekly basis. Let’s hope the road warriors from seasons past return because four of the next five are away from home, with a dreaded west coast trip to San Diego up first.
I’ll take 2-1 in the NFC East three pack. They had chances in this one, but it was not to be. That’s football.