ARLINGTON, Tex. — Some guys were angry. Some guys were pissed. More than a few seemed near tears.
When you get blown out twice in eight days, the second time by your biggest rival in a nationally televised battle for first place in the division, the only real way to react is by playing a whole lot better.
But the question hanging over the visiting locker room at AT&T Stadium late Sunday night was whether the Eagles are good enough to do that.
Right now, it sure doesn’t seem that way.
“Ultimately, if the players here can’t do it, that’s how this business works, they’ll find somebody else,” Lane Johnson said. “So that’s always in the back of everybody’s mind. Moving forward it’s a kill or be killed world. Knowing that, we’ve got to move forward.”
The 38-20 loss to the Vikings seemed like a low point.
A week later, the Eagles suffered their worst loss to the Cowboys since a 34-0 embarrassment at the Vet in 1998.
But that was Troy Aikman and one of the NFL’s best teams vs. Bobby Hoying and one of the worst.
This was different.
This was supposed to be a chance for the Eagles to bounce back from a bad loss in Minneapolis and lay claim to first place in the division.
Instead, they suffered their second-worst loss of the Doug Pederson Era behind only the 48-7 clunker in New Orleans last November.
But that was a Saints team that would go on to win 13 games. This was a Cowboys team that had lost three games in a row, including one to the lowly Jets.
It can’t happen. But it did happen.
“Tonight was embarrassing,” Zach Ertz said. “One of the most embarrassing games I’ve ever been a part of here in Philly. I take a lot of pride in playing for the Eagles, I take a lot of pride playing for this city. We took one on the chin today against a team that we hate. Simple as that. I feel bad for the fans, honestly. It was a pitiful performance. We’re 3-4, not where I thought where we were going to be.”
How bad was it?
• This is only the sixth time since 1977 the Eagles have lost back-to-back games by at least 18 points.
• This is only the ninth time in franchise history the Eagles have allowed 37 points in back-to-back games — only the third time in the last 30 years.
• Not counting games played with replacement players during the 1987 strike, this was only the fourth time in franchise history the Eagles have allowed 24 first-half points in back-to-back games. It also happened in 1970, 2005 and 2015.
“On prime-time, we went out there and got our asses kicked,” said Dallas Goedert, whose first-quarter fumble led to the Cowboys’ first touchdown. “That’s pretty embarrassing.”
The defense was terrible, but they were put in some terrible positions. Only one of the Cowboys’ TD drives went more than 45 yards.
But they did allow more than 400 yards, and when the Cowboys did get those turnovers, the defense didn’t put up much resistance.
The Cowboys ran for 189 yards against the NFL’s No. 2 run defense — 111 by Ezekiel Elliott — and Amari Cooper jumped off the injury report for 5-for-106 receiving.
“That is not what we do,” Fletcher Cox said. “That’s not our defense, that’s not how we do things around here. We have to fix it. We’re running out of time right now. We have to fix it now with the guys we got. We can’t make any excuses, we have to get our stuff together.”
As bad as the Eagles’ defense was, the offense was worse.
Hapless. Clueless. Hopeless.
The Eagles committed four turnovers, got just four catches for 62 yards from their wide receivers, once again didn’t hit any big plays, couldn’t protect Carson Wentz and generally just looked like it was the first day of OTAs.
“There was no run game, was no pass game, (no) rhythm,” Johnson said. “You saw that. No rhythm. No consistency. When I was watching across the field, Dallas, quick game, quick game, you could just see a rhythm. I feel like that’s something we were missing.”
It’s gotten that bad.
The Pro Bowl right tackle, who had one of his worst games in years, was admiring the other team’s offense.
“There are really no excuses,” he said. “It’s make or break time. We’ll find out what we’re made of and what this team is made of moving forward here in the next few weeks.”
It sure won’t be easy.
The Eagles’ next four opponents are a combined 19-6.
“Tough loss last week to the Vikings, tough loss today,” Ertz said. “We’re going to see what the character of this team is these next two weeks. We're going to see what type of team we are, see what type of fight we have in this locker room. I can promise you, I'm going to do everything I have to win these next two games. It kills me. This feeling kills me, honestly.”
Does that feeling kill enough of the guys in the locker room?
Does it really?
Honestly, it was hard to answer that yes Sunday night. We’ll know for sure soon.
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