Eagles

Cowboys 29, Eagles 23: Standout plays

Cowboys 29, Eagles 23: Standout plays

Reviewing the key moments in the Eagles' how-did-that-happen? loss to the Cowboys?

1. First quarter: Marcus Smith sack
Smith, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2014, entered the game with 1.5 career sacks -- and none this season. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Smith sacked Dak Prescott, and then on the next play stopped Ezekiel Elliott for a 2-yard gain.

2. First quarter: Caleb Sturgis 30-yard field goal
The acting job after the kick was worth mentioning. Sturgis drew a running into the kicker penalty on the Cowboys but should have been whistled for a flop.

3. First quarter: Dez Bryant 53-yard catch
Bryant simply beat Leodis McKelvin down the right sideline for a 53-yard reception. No other Eagles' defender was in site. After Elliott burst up the middle for 15 more, Prescott got the 'Boys on the board with an easy 7-yard touchdown.

4. Second quarter: Three runs by Sproles
This guy is really 33? On the Eagles' first touchdown drive, Sproles cut on a dime (sorry Shady) to make a guy miss before getting stopped for two yards. So then on 3rd-and-1, he zipped down the field for nine. Then two plays later, he jitterbugged his way for 19 to convert a 2nd-and-15.

Those runs — and a holding penalty on Dallas — set up Ryan Mathews' easy run for the Eagles' first touchdown.

5. Second quarter: Sturgis 55-yard field goal
He made this one twice, but the first one didn't count because Jason Garrett called timeout. They have to change that rule. 

Great job by Sturgis, and it wouldn't have been possible without the bullet to Dorial Green-Beckham with four seconds left. Green-Beckham did a great job to get both feet in and get out of bounds with just one second left, giving Sturgis a shot.

6. Third quarter: Jordan Matthews 5-yard TD catch
Easy pitch and catch, and notable because Doug Pederson mixed things up on the Dallas D, which wasn't ready for a sudden change in tempo. The Eagles put their foot on the gas, eschewed the huddle and drove 69 yards in 12 plays to take 10-point lead. 

“Did Chip Kelly come back in the building? What happened here?" NBC analyst Chris Collinsworth exclaimed after Matthews' TD catch.

The Eagles once again had their share of drops, but both Matthews and Agholor had nice third-down catches this series to keep the drive alive. 

7. Third quarter: 30-yard run by ... punter Chris Jones 
Kudos to the Cowboys on this one. The Eagles had all the momentum after going up 10 and forcing a 3-and-0ut ... but Jones on a fake punt took some back. It resulted in a Dan Bailey field goal, which came after Terrance Williams prevented Dak Prescott's second interception in the end zone by taking down McKelvin. 

8. Third quarter: Josh Huff 53-yard kickoff return
The Eagles' special teams weren't going to be outdone. Huff took the ensuing kickoff 53 yards to set up a 34-yard field goal.

Only Bailey prevented Huff from his second kickoff return for a touchdown in as many weeks and the Eagles' third straight week with a kickoff return for a TD.

9. Fourth quarter: Wendell Smallwood fumble
You're up 10. With the ball. There's 13:05 left to go. Sproles has been great all night. And you give the rookie his first touch of the game now? 

Easy to say after a fumble, hindsight being 20-20 and all that, but still.

Thanks to the Eagles' D, Smallwood's fumble cost the Birds only three points, as Bailey squeezed in a 49-yarder.

But when the Eagles look back at how this one got away, this is step No. 1.

10. Fourth quarter: Sean Lee throws Sproles for 6-yard loss
And here's No. 2.

It was 3rd-and-8 at the Dallas 30. Wentz tossed it to Sproles, but Lee flew right by a hobbled Jason Kelce, swallowed up Sproles, and moved the Eagles out of field goal range. 

Dubious play-call when staying in field-goal range had to be the priority. Instead of attempting a 54-yarder, the Eagles played it safe, punted and pinned the Cowboys back at their own 10.

11. Fourth quarter: Bryant 22-yard TD catch
Problem is, the Cowboys drove 90 yards in 11 plays, and the drive ended when Bryant beat Nolan Carroll with a superstar catch to tie it. Not much else to say.

12. Fourth quarter: Wentz sacked ... but doesn't fumble
On 3rd-and-19 from the Eagles' 11, Wentz escaped pressure, wound up to throw ... and was walloped from behind by corner Orlando Scandrick. Everyone was looking for the ball to fly out ... but somehow Wentz held on, and the Eagles punted.

13. Overtime: Jason Witten 5-yard TD
How did Witten get so wide open? Rodney McCleod and Malcolm Jenkins collided at the goal line, allowing Witten to easily catch his first score of the season. Game over.

Eagles Inactives: Alshon Jeffery (ankle) active against Cowboys

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USA Today Images

Eagles Inactives: Alshon Jeffery (ankle) active against Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas -- As expected, Alshon Jeffery is active and will play against the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. 

Jeffery popped up on the injury report Thursday with an ankle injury that has been bothering him for a little while. He came into the weekend listed as questionable. 

But head coach Doug Pederson said he expected Jeffery to play and even Jeffery said he would "most definitely" play in the game. 

Zach Ertz and Ronald Darby are also returning for this game. Ertz missed the Denver game before the bye with a hamstring injury and Darby hasn't played since Week 1 in Washington. 

The Eagles' inactives are Nate Sudfeld, Shelton Gibson, Steven Means, Elijah Qualls, Wendell Smallwood, Will Beatty and Dannell Ellerbe. 

This is the first healthy scratch of the season for Smallwood. The only reason he was active before the bye week was because of Zach Ertz's hamstring injury that kept him out of the game. Smallwood is the biggest loser after the team brought in Jay Ajayi. 

Beatty and Ellerbe are inactive after being added to the roster last week. During the week, Pederson said he wanted them to get more time with the team before throwing them out there.

The Cowboys' inactives are Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, Dan Bailey, Jeff Heath, Darren McFadden, Daniel Ross, Blake Jarwin.

Breaking down Eagles' 2018 Pro Bowl chances

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AP Images

Breaking down Eagles' 2018 Pro Bowl chances

Pro Bowl voting began this past week, and ideally, the Eagles won't have anybody actually playing in the game.
 
The 2018 Pro Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 28 — a week before the Super Bowl — and players from the Super Bowl-bound teams will be headed to Minneapolis that weekend, not Orlando, where the Pro Bowl will be held this year.
 
But with the Eagles sitting at 8-1 heading into Sunday's game against the Cowboys, there's a good chance they'll have a sizable contingent selected for the annual exhibition.

Let's take an early look at the Eagles' locks, hopefuls and longshots for 2018 Pro Bowl honors.
 
And remember, once again, the NFL is picking Pro Bowl teams based on the conference.
 
Locks
Carson Wentz: Wentz is a lock to make his first Pro Bowl, which would make him the fourth Eagles quarterback in the last 10 years to receive the honor, following Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Nick Foles. No other team has had more than two. Interesting that the Eagles have had only four players make a Pro Bowl team within their first two years since 1990 - Donovan McNabb in 2000, DeSean Jackson in 2009, Nick Foles in 2013 and Cody Parkey in 2014.
 
Fletcher Cox: The only lock from the defense, which is more of a statement on the brand of team defense the Eagles are playing these days than anything else. This will be Cox's third Pro Bowl, something only five Eagles defensive linemen have ever achieved — Reggie White (seven), Hugh Douglas (three), William Fuller (three), Charlie Johnson (three) and Floyd Peters (three).
 
Zach Ertz: It's always tricky for players to get to that first Pro Bowl, but it's hard to imagine Ertz not getting picked. Despite missing the Broncos game, he's been the best tight end in the NFC. He leads all NFC tight ends in catches and yards and is tied for the lead in TDs with Seattle's Jimmy Graham with six. Barring a huge dropoff, Ertz is a lock.
 
Hopefuls
Lane Johnson: Johnson has played at a consistently high level, but a few things are working against him. His two suspensions shouldn't be a factor, but they won't help his chances. Players are branded a certain way, and Johnson has to overcome a league-wide reputation as a guy who's tested positive twice. But if it's based on level of play, he'll go.
 
Jason Kelce: Kelce probably has a better chance than Johnson, just because he's an already a two-time pick and has that Pro Bowl reputation around the league. He made the team last year despite not having a very good year. Kelce has been exceptional this year and is in the middle of the No. 1 offense in the NFL. Close to a lock.
 
Brandon Graham: Graham once again has everything but the sacks. He's played very good football, consistently pressured the quarterback, been exceptional against the run, but … it's all about the sacks with defensive ends. He has 5.0, which is a good number after nine games and just 1 1/2 shy of his career-high of 6 1/2 from 2015, but nine NFC defensive ends have more. Have they played better than Graham? Probably not. But he needs to get to double digits to really have a good shot at making his first Pro Bowl.
 
Malcolm Jenkins: Jenkins made his first Pro Bowl in 2015 and should have made the team last year, but didn't. He's having a great year but doesn't have any interceptions and he's going to probably need at least two or three to get himself in the picture. What he does have going for him is that he's extremely popular among his fellow players. His activism, his strong voice within the NFLPA and his reputation as a guy who's going to fight for player rights will really help. That stuff shouldn't matter but it does.
 
Longshots
Brandon Brooks: Brooks is in his seventh year and has never made a Pro Bowl. The longer you play without making one, the harder it is to get picked. Especially at a non-skill position. But he's sure deserving. That whole right side of the O-line is with Kelce, Brooks and Johnson.
 
Jalen Mills: This is going to come down to interceptions. Mills needs to overcome the fact that he was never a big-name college guy, wasn't a high draft pick and his personality might bug some opposing wide receivers — the ones who vote for CBs. But he's got three interceptions, and right now Detroit's Darius Slay is the only NFC cornerback with more. If he can get to five? He'll be in the mix.
 
Patrick Robinson: Robinson is in a very similar position as Mills. He doesn't have that league-wide reputation as a top corner, but he's sure played like one. Robinson is now with his fourth team in four years, and he's an eighth-year player who's never been a Pro Bowler, so he needs to overcome that journeyman reputation. But like Mills, he has three interceptions. A couple more gets him in the picture.
 
Nigel Bradham: Bradham has one sack, no interceptions, and no forced fumbles. Without stat numbers, it's tough for outside linebackers to make a Pro Bowl team, no matter how solid they are against the run and in coverage. Bradham is a sixth-year veteran without a Pro Bowl on his resume, and he'll probably need INT and sack numbers to make his first one.
 
Jake Elliott: Elliott doesn't have the accuracy of some kickers, so his only chance is to keep racking up the 50-yarders. Going into Dallas, he shares the NFL lead with five 50-yarders, including, of course, the game-winning 61-yarder against the Giants. But overall, he's at 85 percent, which sounds high but is actually only sixth-highest among regular NFC kickers. And he's missed three PATs. His only chance is another game-winner or two and a bunch more 50-yarders.
 
Rodney McLeod: McLeod has a couple interceptions and has played well all year, but it's hard to imagine him making the Pro Bowl and Jenkins not. And it's hard to imagine both safeties getting picked. Like any DB, McLeod can improve his chances with a couple INTs and maybe a pick-six during the voting period.