Eagles-Cowboys Recap: Birds Win A Thriller, 33-27


The Philadelphia Eagles toppled the Dallas Cowboys in a critical week 9 matchup. Here’s how it happened:

The Eagles receive the kick and set up shop at their own 20 yard line. In what has become a weekly ritual, Sam Bradford throws a swing pass to DeMarco Murray on the opening play that goes for nothing. A couple of plays later Bradford is flushed from the pocket and hits Josh Huff short of the sticks. Donnie Jones comes on to punt away, but Dallas commits a running into the punter penalty and the Eagles offense is back on the field. It’s to no avail, however, as the offense quickly goes three and out.

Lucky Whitehead makes a poor decision fielding the punt at the 1, and is quickly brought down by the Eagles coverage unit. Darren McFadden takes a handoff for a gain of 10, and Dez Bryant follows up with a huge catch and run with Nolan Carroll in coverage. After converting a 4th and 1 deep in the red zone, Matt Cassel finds Cole Beasley in the middle of the field for the touchdown. The pass rush wasn’t there, as Cassel had ample time to check down to Beasley. 7-0, Dallas.

The Eagles offense quickly finds themselves in a hole, as a Lane Johnson false start penalty and run play that goes for negative yardage puts Bradford in a 3rd and 16. Bradford steps up and delivers a high pass to Miles Austin, but the receiver manages to hold on to move the sticks. Three plays later the Eagles are forced to punt after Bradford dumps the ball off for Jordan Matthews who, in a minor victory, manages to hang on to the ball. The early-game offensive woes continue as the Eagles are forced to punt away.

Dallas receives the punt and has a three and out of their own. Cassel has an open man in 3rd down but can’t connect as the ball falls behind his target. It wouldn’t have mattered though, as Dallas is flagged for offensive pass interference. Darren Sproles calls for a fair catch and the Eagles set up at their own 32.

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A defensive pass interference call on Barry Church moves the Eagles offense forward about 10 yards, but they don’t get much further than that. Murray picks up a few yards before two straight incompletions bring on 4th down. The Eagles punt.

Another slow drive for Dallas. Fletcher Cox stuffs DeMarco Murray and then Cassel delivers an off-target deep ball that Terrance Williams nearly reels in. The drive stalls and Dallas is forced to punt. Slow game to this point.

The Eagles get the ball back and start getting some production out of the backs, barreling down the field in the process. Murray finds some room, gaining nine, six, and eight yards on a couple of runs and a reception. Ryan Mathews comes on in relief and hits the edge on a cutback for 21 yards. Jordan Matthews hauls in a short pass to move the sticks 2 plays later, and another Mathews carry brings the Eagles down to the goal line. After Josh Huff nearly volleys a walk-in TD reception into the arms of a defender, Sproles takes the ball down to the inches line. After a well defended pass by Byron Jones falls short, DeMarco Murray plows in for the TD on 4th and goal. Jason Kelce and Brent Celek did a great job getting push on the play. 7-7.

Dallas regains possession and pushes the ball downfield. Darren McFadden rips off a big run to get Dallas into Eagles territory. A few plays later, Cassel narrowly slips from the grip of a blitzing Jordan Hicks to fire for Williams in the end zone. Williams holds on, but clearly pushed off on Byron Maxwell; had he not, Maxwell probably would’ve come down with the ball. An illegal motion on the ensuing play puts Dallas at 1st and 25, but a Cassel tuck and run squeaks the Cowboys back into field goal range. On 3rd and long Brandon Graham beats Tyron Smith for the strip sack. Dallas recovers, but the damage is done as they’re firmly out of Dan Bailey’s range. Great play by Graham at an opportune time. Dallas punts.

A good punt pins the Eagles inside the five. The offense faces a 3rd down in the shadow of the end zone, but Bradford gets good protection and finds Brent Celek for the 1st down and then some. Darren Sproles bursts forward for a gain of nine, before eventually converting a 1st. Jordan Matthews takes a screen for about 10 yards, but the Eagles are flagged for holding. Oddly enough, Chip Kelly shifts into hyper conservative mode and runs down the clock with a couple of runs, before having Bradford chuck it deep. Bradford had a man, but Matt Tobin did little to get in the way of David Irving whose hit forces an errant throw. The Eagles punt on 4th down and the half comes to a close with the score tied at seven.

After Cassel and McFadden carry the ball on consecutive plays to open the half, Malcolm Jenkins, Cedric Thornton and Jordan Hicks combine to penetrate the backfield, preventing the conversion. Brandon Graham is flagged for taunting, however, and the subsequent 15 yard penalty extends Dallas’ drive. The defense holds tough on the following sequence, as a stuff is followed by a Mychal Kendricks sack. Great job by Billy Davis’ unit.

The Eagles take over pinned inside the five. DeMarco Murray and Sam Bradford get going and make a splash on this one. Murray takes an inside handoff and rumbles forward for a nice gainer and a 1st down. Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is out with an apparent head injury, and Kelly and Bradford waste no time in going after his replacement. Finding Murray on the wheel route for a huge gain, setting the offense up deep in Dallas territory. Miles Austin drops a great throw by Bradford on 3rd down, but Morris Claiborne is flagged for defensive holding and the drive continues. Bradford finds Matthews who stiff arms a DB before being pulled down inside the five. Ryan Mathews takes the following handoff off tackle and into the end zone for 6. Awesome drive, as the birds were firing on all cylinders (sans the dropped ball). 14-7, Eagles.

Dallas gets the ball back and Brandon Graham almost immediately makes a splash, beating Smith yet again for another strip-sack. Somehow the ball squeaks out and Dallas recovers to retain possession. A few plays later, a Beasley catch and run moves the sticks, before a ticky tac holding call on Kendricks further extends the drive. Dallas moves deep into Eagles territory with another Beasley catch and run, before the slot receiver catches another pass, this time for the touchdown. You can’t let a player like Cole Beasley repeatedly bleed the defense. Unacceptable. 14-14.

The Eagles offense takes the field and quickly find themselves in a 3rd and 7. A Greg Hardy offsides penalty puts Bradford in a more manageable 3rd and 2, however, it matters little as the quarterback absorbs a sack on the following play. A nice job by the punt team puts Dallas on their own 28 to start their next drive.

A stuff and a Connor Barwin sack sets up a 3rd and long, but Cassel buys time and finds Beasley for yet another conversion. On the following play, and with Dallas threatening in Eagles territory, Jordan Hicks jumps in front of McFadden and picks the ball off, taking it 67 yards, all the way to the house. Amazing play by the rookie. 21-14, Eagles.

Dallas receives the ensuing kickoff and get a huge spark. Jerome Couplin misses a tackles and Whitehead is off to the races, narrowly being brought down by E.J. Biggers after a 80 yard return. Two plays later Cassel throws up a hilariously stupid jump ball after scrambling around in the backfield. Somehow, Eagles players fall over like dominos and Dez reaches up to haul it in for the touchdown. Wow… 21-21.

The Eagles regain possession and put together another impressive drive. Mathews takes a couple of carries for solid gains before Bradford starts throwing darts. First, he finds Zach Ertz up the near sideline for 27, before connecting with Matthews for 14. Bradford then leads Darren Sproles on a short pass that the back nearly breaks for a big gain. On 3rd and 5 inside the Dallas 15, Bradford is hit as he throws and can’t connect with Jordan Matthews. The Eagles settle for three, and take the lead, 24-21.

A good run by McFadden a catch and run by Bryant quickly puts the Cowboys in Eagles territory. Jason Witten comes down with a big catch over Hicks to set Dallas up close to the Eagles red zone. On 3rd down E.J. Biggers comes up with a big PBU to hold Dallas to a field goal. The Eagles will get the ball back with 2:53 on the clock and the opportunity to grind out a win. Huge series coming up.

DeMarco Murray takes a swing pass nine yards, and then Bradford hits Jordan Matthews on a crosser for a massive 34 yard gain. Great play design in creating a natural pick (the Eagles have been burned on similar plays for OPI). After 2 consecutive runs for a net gain of 2 yards, the Eagles are faced with a 3rd and 8. Bradford fires high and Miles Austin ends up on the turf on incidental contact. Caleb Sturgis comes on and, in clutch fashion, drills the 53 yard field goal. 27-24, Eagles.

Dallas takes over with just a shade under 2 minutes. A Terrance Williams catch moves Dallas down field before the referees take the game out of the defense’s hands. On 2 crucial plays, the second of which was on 3rd and long, Byron Maxwell is flagged for phantom DPI calls. Absolutely horrific officiating that puts Dallas in field goal range. Bailey dings the ball off the right upright but somehow squeaks it in for 3. 27-27 and off to over time.

The Eagles win the toss and elect to receive. Murray and the offensive line gets going and quickly drives down field. Murray totes the rock for gains of nine, 14, and 20 to take the Eagles near midfield. A shallow completion to Jordan Matthews comes up short of the sticks, and the Eagles are faced with a critical decision on 4th and 1. Kelly straps on his big boy pants and calls a shotgun run with Mathews in the backfield. Mathews lowers his pads and pounds it through for the conversion. The ball comes out late and Dallas thinks they have the recovery, but the review clearly shows that Mathews is down by contact. It’s bliss for the Eagles on the following play: Jordan Matthews hits the double move on a crosser, Bradford hits him in stride, and Matthews cruises into the end zone for the 41-yard score. Great job all the way around. Crazy game. 33-27, Eagles.


Good team win for the Eagles. Bradford had his best game in midnight green, and the receivers only had one drop! Jordan Matthews grabbed nine balls for 133 yards and a score in what might be his reemergence. Whew. The offensive line, despite missing surefire Hall-of-Famer, Jason Peters, played an excellent game. DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles all did their part and collectively played a great game, converting 35 carries into 172 yards (4.9 YPC) and 2 TDs. Just an overall good offensive performance in spite of a slow first half.

The defense had its up and downs, although Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks made splash plays and were a consistent presence (hopefully Hicks is ok after coming up lame and heading to the locker room late in the game). Overall, the defense had its moments, but the pass rush was inconsistent and the secondary allowed too much YAC.

At 4-4, the Eagles are only 1/2 game back in the NFC East and very much in play for a playoff spot. The team will need to continue to progress from here on out before they can be considered a legitimate contender, but this was a big win against a Dallas team that came to play. More analysis to come.

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