FINAL: Dallas 38, Philadelphia 33
The Dallas Cowboys (6-6) barely held off the Philadelphia Eagles (3-9) by a 38-33 score, surviving a terrific day on the ground by rookie running back Bryce Brown and a late punt return touchdown by Damaris Johnson.
Andy Reid's Eagles have now lost eight consecutive games, the first time the franchise has done so since 1968. With wins by the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns today, the Eagles are looking like they will definitely have a top-three pick, maybe even the number one overall selection.
Stay tuned to this article for full player grades and evaluations immediately following Sunday’s matchup.
Nick Foles: A-
Nick Foles really impressed today. To recap, he was making just his third career start at the NFL level, and he's still a third-round rookie. He was starting on primetime football against a divisional opponent and doing so without the services of All-Pro runner LeSean McCoy or Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson. Foles also had a patchwork offensive line protecting him.
And he led the Philadelphia Eagles to 33 points without turning the ball over once. Foles completed 22 of 34 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown pass to Riley Cooper. He was sacked just once, which was a testimony to his ability to recognize the blitz coming.
Foles made good decisions and showed confidence, poise, and excellent leadership for most of the game today. He efficiently led the team down the field right before halftime for three more points, and 33 points should be enough to win any football game.
Bryce Brown: B+
Bryce Brown looks to be the real deal as a running back. He has power and speed, and he showed that he was no one-game wonder.
Brown rushed the ball 24 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns, averaging a ridiculous seven yards per carry. He has the physical tools to handle a full workload and he looked like he could be a terrific complement to All-Pro runner LeSean McCoy.
Brown also caught four passes for 14 yards, giving him 28 total touches for 183 yards and two scores. He did lose an extremely costly fumble which was picked up by Dallas for a touchdown, and that is absolutely inexcusable. But the fumbles should be fixable and Brown has tools that can't be taught. He's only the second player in NFL history to rush for at least 150 yards in each of his first two NFL starts, and he will have a very bright future.
Dion Lewis: B
Two carries for 14 yards is a good game for Dion Lewis, who received limited carries as the backup to Brown.
Stanley Havili: B
Stanley Havili hasn't been receiving a lot of snaps recently but he's a good blocker for Brown.
Jeremy Maclin: B
The Cowboys were able to focus much more of their attention on Jeremy Maclin with DeSean Jackson out for the season. Maclin finished with three catches for 38 yards, which is a solid but not spectacular total for him.
Jason Avant: A
Jason Avant had his finest game of the season tonight, totaling four catches for 79 yards. He came up with some big receptions on third downs, including a 29-yarder late in the game.
Damaris Johnson: B
Damaris Johnson got more snaps than normal because of the injury to Jackson. He finished with one catch for 13 yards.
Riley Cooper: A
Riley Cooper made a tremendous one-handed touchdown catch in the end zone, beating Cowboys' $50 million cover corner Brandon Carr.
Brent Celek: A
Brent Celek had a terrific game, which was huge because he has been a disappointment as of the last several contests. Celek finished with seven catches for 79 yards, hanging on to all passes his way despite several hard hits from the Cowboys secondary.
Clay Harbor: C
Foles missed Clay Harbor on a pass in the end zone, and Harbor finished the game with one catch for three yards.
King Dunlap: B
King Dunlap has really started to come onto his own as a starting offensive tackle. It looked like it would be a rough night early on when DeMarcus Ware blew by him and smashed into Nick Foles. But Dunlap settled down and was a positive force as a pass blocker and run blocker. He also recovered a fumble when Foles was sacked.
Evan Mathis: A
Evan Mathis is the best offensive lineman on the Eagles by far. He’s a terrific pass blocker who still hasn’t allowed a sack this season and he’s a viable run blocker for Bryce Brown.
Dallas Reynolds: B+
Dallas Reynolds has emerged as at least an average NFL center as of late. He was part of an Eagles offensive line that didn’t allow a sack tonight until the final three minutes and helped pave the way for over 160 rushing yards.
Jake Scott: B
Jake Scott is significantly better than Danny Watkins, and he may beat him out to be the starter in 2013. Scott is a natural offensive lineman, and he’s been an asset since the day he was signed.
Dennis Kelly: B+
Dennis Kelly has shown significant improvement as the right tackle since he was pressed into action. For a fifth-round rookie, Kelly has been terrific in his role. He’s got the size and he’s showing improvement each week.
Trent Cole: C+
Trent Cole has been the great disappearing act for the Philadelphia Eagles this season. He was lined up against a very talented left tackle in Tyron Smith, but still one that has struggled for much of 2012. Cole finished the game with two tackles and a shared sack, which is disappointing for a player of Cole’s caliber.
Brandon Graham: A+
Brandon Graham was dominant in his first game as a full-time starter following the release of Jason Babin. He registered a sack and a tackle for a loss in the first four defensive plays of the game, and finished with six tackles, two tackles for losses, and two sacks.
Mike Patterson: C
At times, Mike Patterson was lined up as the nose guard in a 5-2 formation for the Eagles. He finished the game with just one tackle though and no quarterback pressures.
Cullen Jenkins: B
Cullen Jenkins had a productive game against a subpar Cowboys interior offensive line, racking up two tackles, a quarterback hurry, and a tackle for a loss.
Fletcher Cox: C
Fletcher Cox didn’t even show up in the box score but he did miss extensive time due to his tailbone contusion acting up again.
Vinny Curry: C
After his terrific debut last week, Vinny Curry didn’t make quite the same impact tonight against the Cowboys. He had just one tackle and that’s it.
Cedric Thornton: B
Cedric Thornton has emerged as a solid piece of the rotation on the interior defensive line. He had two tackles today.
Derek Landri: C+
Derek Landri had two tackles and one for a loss in limited snaps, although he did get blocked out of the equation on DeMarco Murray’s touchdown run.
Phillip Hunt: D+
Phillip Hunt had just one tackle and no quarterback pressures in a handful of snaps, as he provided his usual little to no impact on the game.
Darryl Tapp: C-
Darryl Tapp continues to get snaps without making plays for the Eagles. Tonight he had two tackles and no pressures/sacks/hits.
DeMeco Ryans: B+
DeMeco Ryans took a bad angle on Dez Bryant’s first touchdown catch but he finished with four tackles and a huge stuff of DeMarco Murray.
Mychal Kendricks: B
Mychal Kendricks played a very quietly productive game. He finished with six tackles and played reasonably well in pass coverage.
Akeem Jordan: A-
Akeem Jordan’s role as a weakside linebacker is limited because the Eagles frequently use a nickel cornerback or even a 5-2 defensive formation. But Jordan had four tackles, and one for a loss.
Casey Matthews: B+
Casey Matthews played very sparingly but he did have a nice coverage on Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley when Ryans had to leave for a play.
Nnamdi Asomugha: B+
Nnamdi Asomugha had a very productive day as a cover corner. He's probably not going to get a lot of credit for it because he's an easy target but Asomugha was not to blame for tonight's loss.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: D-
DRC had an awful game tonight and he was a big reason why the Eagles lost. He committed a pass interference in the end zone, he was beat badly by Dez Bryant on a 35-yard pass play, and then he was shoved out of the way by Bryant on a three-yard touchdown late in the contest.
Brandon Boykin: C-
Brandon Boykin wasn't targeted too many times but he did get burned by Miles Austin on an 18-yard pass play across the middle on a 3rd-and-13.
Curtis Marsh: D
Curtis Marsh didn't play very many snaps but he did miss two tackles on the same play early on.
Nate Allen/Kurt Coleman: F
No surprise here but Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman were absolutely awful. Against the Eagles safeties, Tony Romo just picked them apart. He threw three touchdown passes, converted over 63 percent of his third down plays, and posted a near-perfect passer rating.
Alex Henery: A
Alex Henery does nothing but convert field goals. He made two tonight, both over 40 yards, making him 5-for-5 on kicks over 40 yards in the past two games.
Mat McBriar: C
It was an average game for Mat McBriar, who punted twice for 78 yards, dropping one of them inside the 15-yard line.
Brandon Boykin: C
Three kick returns for 21.7 yards per return is average.
Damaris Johnson: A+
How about Damaris Johnson taking a punt 97 yards for a touchdown late in the game?! That marked the third-longest punt return in the history of the National Football League.
Andy Reid: B
Tonight wasn't his fault. He called a good game for rookies Nick Foles and Bryce Brown, and he really did put the Eagles in position to win the game.
Marty Mornhinweg: A
He heavily relied on Brown's running ability today, which made life much easier for Foles.
Todd Bowles: F
The man continues to find new ways to be an awful coordinator. The Eagles have allowed 16 touchdowns without recording an interception under his six games.
Bobby April: A
His unit has become a strength, notably with Alex Henery as the kicker and Damaris Johnson's big return tonight.