Gunn on One: Brandon Graham on Eagles' hot start, slowing down Chris Thompson

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Gunn on One: Brandon Graham on Eagles' hot start, slowing down Chris Thompson

Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham is in his eighth season and is the longest-tenured player on the Birds' defense. He currently leads the defense with four sacks. Recently, I slowed him down just long enough to ask him some questions. The topics included the Eagles' 5-1 record and facing a key offensive weapon on the Redskins.

Gunner: With a 5-1 record, are you guys enjoying having that target on your back? Everyone in the NFC is gunning for you guys right now.

Graham: They didn't give us a chance in the beginning. We were going to be at the bottom of the NFC East. We got a lot of new guys, but we didn't have the chemistry, and now all we do is work. Nobody is worried about 5-1 right now. We're just worried about the Redskins. It's the next game up. We have another opportunity to go out and win a game. I guess after the season we'll look back and say, 'OK this is what we did.' I don't see guys getting caught up in 5-1. We just work.

Gunner: Speaking of the Redskins, a guy you have to watch closely Monday night is RB Chris Thompson. How special is this guy? He's their leading rusher and leading receiver averaging almost 19 yards per catch.

Graham: Man, he's good. He has good balance, good vision, fast. He's everything you want in a running back. I think we have a good challenge up ahead. We just have to play team defense, and rally to the ball. Get numbers to the ball and we should be fine.

You can see the extended version of my conversation with Graham Monday night at 7 p.m. on Eagles Pregame Live on NBC Sports Philadelphia+.

Eagles 37, Cowboys 9: Studs, duds, turning point and more

Eagles 37, Cowboys 9: Studs, duds, turning point and more


ARLINGTON, Texas -- For a while, it looked like the Eagles' winning streak might come to an end in North Texas. 

It didn't come close. 

In the first half, Carson Wentz didn't quite look himself, the run defense wasn't playing to form and the kicker went down with a concussion. 

Didn't matter. 

Eventually, Wentz pulled through, the defense tightened up enough and a backup linebacker showed he can actually kick off. 

The Eagles beat the Cowboys, 37-9, Sunday night at AT&T Stadium to remain the top team in the entire NFC (see Roob's observations). They were just the better team.

The Eagles have now won eight straight games. 

With the win, the Eagles improved to 9-1 on the season for the fifth time in team history. The Cowboys fell to 5-5 on the season. The Eagles are now 4-0 in the division. 

This is the fifth time in team history the Eagles are 9-1 after 10 games (2004, 1980, 1960, 1949). They are just the 51st team in the Super Bowl era to start with nine wins in their first 10 games. Of those previous 50, all made the playoffs, 23 went to the Super Bowl and 11 won it. 

The Eagles started off the game with a brilliant first drive after a Cowboys field goal. They cruised down the field to score a touchdown without even facing a third down. But then the offense sputtered the rest of the half. 

The Cowboys took a 9-7 lead into halftime. It was the first halftime deficit the Eagles had faced since Week 2 in Kansas City. 

Turning point 
After a bizarre first half, the Eagles came out on the first drive of the second half and went 75 yards on eight plays to take the lead. The Eagles converted two huge third downs on the drive. The first came on a screen pass to Brent Celek, the next came on a beautiful pass from Wentz to Alshon Jeffery. 

Key stat
This is the first time the Eagles have scored 30-plus points in four consecutive games since the 1953 season. 

Offensive stud
Wentz didn't have his best performance, but when it mattered, the Eagles' franchise quarterback made plays (see report card). Forget the stat line, Wentz did his job and made some tremendous plays in the process. 

The Eagles' running game was also great Sunday. They rushed for a season-high 215 yards. 

Offensive dud
Zach Ertz's first catch didn't come until very late in the first half and it went for just two yards. He wasn’t a very big factor. 

Defensive stud
Ronald Darby had a great return to action. He started at right cornerback, made a few big plays and even grabbed an interception. 

Defensive dud
The Eagles' run defense, which has been the best unit in the NFL, gave up plenty of yards on the ground Sunday. After giving up an average of 66.4 rushing yards per game coming into Sunday, the Cowboys rushed for 112. 

Key plays
• Chris Long got a strip sack in the fourth quarter. Nigel Bradham picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone to put the Eagles up, 35-9. The two-point conversion made it 37-9. 

• Wentz completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jeffery on 4th-and-5 in the fourth quarter to put the Eagles up 29-9. The Eagles didn't convert the two-point conversion. 

• Wentz hit Torrey Smith for an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter and then hit Jeffery for the two-point conversion to put the Eagles up 23-9. 

• Jay Ajayi broke off a 71-yard run in the third quarter. It was the longest of his career. It was the longest run from an Eagle since Brian Westbrook had a 71-yarder in 2006. 

• Wentz delivered a huge third-down pass to Jeffery on the first drive of the second half. Corey Clement scored a touchdown and then caught a pass for the two-point conversion. The Eagles had to go for two without kicker Jake Elliott (see Rookie Report)

• After starting the game 0 for 5 on third downs, the Cowboys converted three in a row before Mike Nugent hit a 47-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 9-7 lead with 55 seconds left in the first half. 

• Near the end of the first quarter, Malcolm Jenkins tipped a pass and Darby hit the receiver as the ball got there. That's when Rodney McLeod picked off the pass and took it down to the Dallas 15-yard line. But then Elliott missed a 34-yard field goal. 

A little later, Darby got a pick and the Eagles' drive resulted in a punt. 

• Darby had a big pass breakup against Dez Bryant in the end zone late in the first quarter. It forced the Cowboys to settle with another field goal, cutting into the lead 7-6. 

• Kenjon Barner made a spectacular catch on the sideline for a 22-yard gain and then finished off the 75-yard drive with a touchdown run to put the Eagles up 7-3 in the first quarter. 

• Ryan Switzer returned the opening kick 61 yards, which led to a 48-yard field goal from Nugent to put the Cowboys up 3-0. The Eagles' defense shut down the Cowboys' offense to minimize the damage. 

Jeffery (ankle) was active after being listed as questionable heading into the weekend. 

The Eagles lost Elliott in the first half because of a concussion (see story)

Up next
The Eagles return home for a matchup against the Bears (3-7) next Sunday at 1 p.m. After that, the Eagles head to Seattle for a game on Dec. 3, before staying in California for the week leading into the game against the Rams. 

Eagles-Cowboys: Roob's 10 Observations

Eagles-Cowboys: Roob's 10 Observations


ARLINGTON, Texas -- So this is what 9-1 looks like. Not a bad view of the rest of the NFL up here.

The Eagles won their eighth straight game Sunday night, bouncing back from a 9-7 halftime deficit to clobber the Cowboys, 37-9 (see breakdown).

That was a serious whooping the Eagles put on the Cowboys in front of their home crowd. Let's break it down with our 10 Observations.

1. When people were panicking at halftime, I tweeted this out: "Nobody is going to blow out every team they play. Even the best teams face adversity, find themselves in tough spots. Let's see how the Eagles respond. They've been pretty good at it so far this year." And, man, I love the way the Eagles responded Sunday night. As bad as they looked on offense for most of the first half, they regrouped at halftime and came out and opened the second half by reeling off TD drives of 75, 90 and 85 yards. They outscored the Cowboys, 30-0, in the second half, outgained them, 268-99. This team knows how to finish people off. And they know how to handle a little adversity. Something special going on here.

2. Specifically, Carson Wentz really did a tremendous job gathering himself at halftime after finishing the first half 3 for 14. Wentz did not look right much in the first half and it was fair to wonder if that blow he took to the head in the first quarter was affecting him. But he came out in the third quarter sharp, confident and effective and although his final numbers weren't anything special, he did throw two more TDs and no interceptions. He now has 25 touchdowns and five INTs this year. What a season the kid is having.

3. Really a tremendous effort by the defense against a pretty formidable offense. They kept the Eagles in the game in the first half when the offense was struggling, then blanked the Cowboys in the second half. Three INTs against a guy who had never thrown three in his career. Four sacks. No TDs. This was a huge performance by the D just when the Eagles needed it the most.

4. Have to give Kamu Grugier-Hill a ton of credit for handling kickoffs so ably after Jake Elliott left the game with a concussion. Grugier-Hill, a terrific special teamer and backup linebacker, hit his first kickoff to the 1-yard line and his second was a touchback. Losing a kicker early in a game can be a huge blow, but you can't ask for anything more than what they got out of Grugier-Hill. And looking longer term, Caleb Sturgis — a pretty good kicker in his own right — is eligible to come off injured reserve if the Eagles need him.

5. Remarkable to see Ronald Darby come back after not playing since opening day and just pick up right where he left off. Darby, Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson were all very good Sunday night, especially on Dez Bryant. I've been doing this a looooong time and I can safely say the Eagles have never had four cornerbacks as good as Mills, Robinson, Darby and Rasul Douglas, with Sidney Jones waiting in the wings. And all but Robinson are 23 or under. Scary.

6. I wasn't sure how the Eagles were going to involve four running backs in a game plan, but they're pulling it off. Kenjon Barner had a career-long 22-yard catch and TD run on the Eagles' first drive, Corey Clement gained 33 yards on five carries and scored his sixth red-zone TD of the season, Jay Ajayi had 87 yards, including a 71-yard run that really got the Eagles rolling, and LeGarrette Blount added 57 yards on 10 carries, including a big 30-yarder on the fourth-quarter TD drive. In all, the four running backs netted 202 rushing yards and a couple catches for 32 more yards. Incredible job by Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas for rebuilding the running back position and for Doug Pederson and Frank Reich for figuring out how to take advantage of the skill sets of each guy. And just think — when training camp began, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey were all expected to have major roles. With none of them in uniform Sunday night, the running attack looks stronger than ever.

7. We don't talk about the Eagles' offensive line enough, but my goodness, they were monstrous in the second half (see report card). The Eagles, so ineffective early, just kept pounding and pounding and pounding and eventually, the Cowboys just fell apart. The Eagles gained 268 of their 383 total yards in the second half and 180 of their 210 rushing yards after halftime. They lost a Hall of Famer and are still playing out of their minds. Incredible.

8. This may be my favorite stat of all-time: Since 2000, the Cowboys have lost 22 games by 23 or more points. Eleven of them — half of them — have been to the Eagles.

8A. And favorite stat No. 2: Last time the Cowboys allowed 30 or more points in a second half while failing to score in that second half was against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in 1962. They were outscored, 38-0, and lost, 52-20.

9. Clement's knack inside the red zone continues to defy belief. He had three touches on the Eagles' opening drive of the second half — an eight-yard run down to the 11, an 11-yard touchdown and a successful two-point conversion. Clement now has 11 red-zone touches this year and six red-zone touchdowns and a two-point conversion, which is really kind of hard to believe. I think before too long Ajayi and Clement are going to be the Eagles' top two running backs.

10. Dak Prescott had three interceptions Sunday night. Wentz had three interceptions in his last eight games. I don't care how young they are or how much football they have left or what players they have around him. Wentz > Dak. Period.