Star wide receiver Amari Cooper wasn't on the field for a handful of late plays, including a key fourth down in the fourth quarter, but he apparently wasn't benched. Instead, Jane Slater of NFL Network cited a source who said the Cowboys preferred to let Tavon Austin go up against Philadelphia's secondary because the visitors believed the Eagles had difficulty with smaller, fast playmakers.
Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News noted the Cowboys "didn't want to tire Cooper out" following an earlier go route.
If there were ever a time to play Cooper and the key players more, it was Sunday with the game and division hanging in the balance. This, along with the decision to keep Ezekiel Elliott off the field on multiple 3rd-and-1 plays and punt on an important 4th-and-1, will only serve to intensify the spotlight head coach Jason Garrett is under this year.
Cooper managed just four catches for 24 yards, but that was better than Austin. The smaller receiver didn't exactly take advantage of those Eagles defensive backs and tallied a mere one catch for five yards in the loss.
Recent history also suggests going with Austin over Cooper against the Eagles is not the correct move. Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk pointed out the latter had averaged seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in his last three games against Philadelphia.
Dallas' failure is Philadelphia's gain, as the Eagles are in control of the NFC East with a one-game lead and only one outing remaining.