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Cowboys Rumors: Amari Cooper Limited in 4th Quarter vs. Eagles Due to Poor Play

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2019

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 22: Amari Cooper #19 of the Dallas Cowboys is unable to catch a pass during the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles in the game at Lincoln Financial Field on December 22, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The fallout from the Dallas Cowboys' 17-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles continued Monday, with a focus on Amari Cooper's usage—or lack thereof—late in the game.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill Jr., the Cowboys didn't have Cooper on the field for a pivotal fourth down because of his performance throughout the evening:

Clarence Hill Jr @clarencehilljr

the Cowboys limited Amari Cooper snaps in the 4th quarter against the eagles because he wasn't playing well, per sources. They legitimately didn't think having him in on 4th and 8 have them the best chance to win. if he is not hurt, this will be revisited in contract talks

Dallas faced a 4th-and-8 from the Eagles' 23-yard line with 1:21 remaining. With both Cooper and Randall Cobb on the bench, Dak Prescott threw to Michael Gallup in the end zone, but Sidney Jones broke up the pass.

NFL @NFL

Sidney Jones with the big pass breakup in the end zone! #FlyEaglesFly 📺: #DALvsPHI on FOX 📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app Watch free on mobile: https://t.co/csMF3GLW6Z https://t.co/9qasdDdCIg

Many understandably wondered why the Cowboys wouldn't have their leading receiver on the field for such a pivotal play.

Head coach Jason Garrett deferred to offensive coordinator Kellen Moore on Monday, telling reporters that Moore "is calling the play and the personnel group."

Hill's report is one of a few reasons being thrown out to explain Cooper's absence:

Jane Slater @SlaterNFL

A #Cowboys source disputes the notion WR Amari Cooper was benched. Instead they wanted to give Tavon Austin a shot at the DBs because Eagles having hard time w smaller quick guys. They got in hurry up mode so they had to wait to put Cooper back in. “Rotation change, not bench.”

Calvin Watkins @calvinwatkins

Amari Cooper was not benched. He ran a go route and the Cowboys took him out for Tavon Austin as part of the rotation. They didn't want to tire Cooper out.

There's no question that Cooper had an underwhelming game. He caught four passes for 24 yards on 12 targets and had a bad drop on a 3rd-and-4 in the second quarter.

Cooper acknowledged that he struggled.

"You play in important games like this, everybody has to bring their A-game if we really want to win," he told reporters. "I don't think we did that tonight. On my behalf, I know I didn't play my best game at all. Terrible."

Still, Cooper is enjoying the best year of his career, with 75 receptions for 1,097 yards and eight touchdowns heading into Week 17. He's the Cowboys' most dynamic aerial threat.

Even if Cooper was feeling fatigued, Dallas's best shot of scoring would have seemingly come with him involved in the fourth-down play call. The team could have used him as a decoy if nothing else while Prescott went deep to Gallup.

By virtue of Sunday's defeat, the Cowboys slipped to second in the NFC East behind the Eagles.

The added drama surrounding Cooper is bound to heap more criticism on the already under-fire Garrett.