Eagles vs. Cowboys: Sunday Night Win Should Be Cautionary Tale for Dallas
No, it wasn't pretty, and the Cowboys should come off the win with more concerns than positives if they hope to actually do enough to make the postseason with four games left on the schedule.
For one thing, the Eagles came into this game with more injuries than a hypochondriac in a war zone. Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson didn't play. I don't even know who some of the offensive linemen are at this point.
And yet the Eagles were able to put 33 points on the board against what is supposed to be a stout defensive unit for Dallas. Bryce Brown may have coughed up the fumble that cost the Eagles a shot to win this game in the fourth quarter, but he also rushed 24 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
There were too many missed tackles and big runs allowed by Dallas, plain and simple. The Eagles averaged a whopping seven yards per carry.
Nick Foles—who hadn't even thrown a touchdown in his first two starts—finished 22-of-34 with 251 passing yards and a touchdown. Brandon Carr was beaten by Riley Cooper on the touchdown throw, which should never happen. And the Cowboys only managed one sack against a patchwork offensive line and rookie quarterback.
That's not going to cut it.
It wasn't enough to keep the Eagles from losing their eighth straight game, of course, but it was far closer than the Cowboys would have liked.
But enough about the defense. How did the offense fare?
I won't say anything negative about Tony Romo here, as he was excellent, completing 22 of 27 passes for 303 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He and Dez Bryant have a good thing going right now, and Jason Witten and Miles Austin also contributed in the effort.
But that running game—oh, that running game. Ranked 30th in rushing offense coming into the game, the Cowboys did manage to run for 123 yards in this contest, though it took them 33 carries to get there (that's 3.7 yards per carry, in case you were wondering).
While this was a more balanced effort than we've seen of late from Dallas, this team must continue to emphasize the running game. Having DeMarco Murray back in the fold should help.
Finally, the mental mistakes. Kudos go to the Cowboys for not turning the ball over a single time, but they were the more penalized team (seven times for 60 yards) and with the game all but wrapped up allowed a punt return for touchdown that gave the Eagles life.
Dallas would recover the subsequent onside kick, but did it really have to be that close?
Will the Cowboys make the playoffs?
Look, a win is a win, and Dallas earned it. But this was a very close game against an Eagles team in utter disarray that has been decimated by injury and is likely playing its last season under head coach Andy Reid.
Given those circumstances, the Cowboys should be concerned with most aspects of their performance, not thrilled with the win.
The Cowboys have a tough schedule to close the season, with games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. If they don't clean up their play, it will be yet another season spent at home, watching other teams in the postseason.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets never fumble the rock in the fourth quarter.
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