Eagles

Hamstrung in secondary, Eagles give up staggering numbers to Cowboys

Hamstrung in secondary, Eagles give up staggering numbers to Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas — By the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 29-23 overtime loss to the Cowboys, the Eagles were down to a hamstrung Sidney Jones and De’Vante Bausby, who wasn’t on the team a month ago.

It showed. 

And Dallas attacked with its newest weapon (see observations)

Even though the Eagles’ defense played fairly well for most of Sunday, by the end of the game, the stats were staggering.

• Dak Prescott threw for 455 yards, the most the Eagles have ever given up in a regular-season game, surpassing Jon Kitna’s 446-yard game in 2007. Prescott’s previous career high was 332. 

• Amari Cooper had 10 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. He’s just the ninth player in the modern era to put up that stat line. It’s the second-biggest game a receiver has ever had against the Eagles (Kenny Britt in 2010). 

• The Cowboys piled up 576 total yards — the fourth-most ever against the Eagles in a regular-season game. 

Staggering. 

“We did a pretty good job earlier in the game,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “We knew they wanted to throw quick game and control passes. But with some injuries we had on the outside, they felt like that was the matchup they could take deep obviously. Two big plays that kind of broke open the game on defense. I mean, Amari Cooper is a good player. We knew they would make plays. He made those plays.”

The two big plays Jenkins was talking about came in the fourth quarter. Cooper caught a 28-yard touchdown against Sidney Jones and then he caught a 75-yard touchdown against Bausby just a few minutes later. 

Jones played just one more series after giving up his touchdown before his hamstring really pulled on him and trainers took him out. He said he just couldn’t open up when running. He was in and out Sunday. 

It was pretty clear Jones’ hamstring was hurting during that game.  

“It’s nowhere near 100 [percent],” Jones said. “I can tell you that for sure. This hammy’s been frustrating. It lingers. Just gotta get healthy at the end of the day. 

“It hurt but I was like, ‘I gotta go back in, it’s do or die.’ I fought. I went back in and gave my best effort.”

It seemed like the Cowboys were happy to target Jones, who clearly wasn’t healthy. They were similarly eager to go after Bausby when he replaced him at left cornerback. 

Bausby, who was promoted from the practice squad on Nov. 17, gave up the 75-yarder as Corey Graham was slow to get over as help. 

The Eagles on Sunday afternoon had just one regular defensive back left starting in Jenkins. Rodney McLeod, Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are all on IR. The Eagles have been at the bottom of the barrel in the secondary and that definitely showed Sunday. 

“It’s tough,” said nickel corner Cre’Von LeBlanc, who arrived to town on Nov. 5. “We gave it all we got and we didn’t fold.” 

They didn’t really hold up either.

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40-year-old Josh McCown was getting ready to play WR on Monday night

40-year-old Josh McCown was getting ready to play WR on Monday night

The Eagles entered Monday night’s game with just three healthy wide receivers and after Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside got hurt, they were down to just one. 

So who would have been the next guy in? 

Well, 40-year-old quarterback Josh McCown was getting ready. 

“I was ready to go,” McCown told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark. “We had the helmet ready to go. The equipment guys were all over it. Had the radio-less helmet because you can’t have two green dots on the field at the same time.” 

McCown didn’t end up playing in Monday’s 23-17 overtime win. The Eagles got by with what they had, which meant playing third tight end Josh Perkins in several different spots. 

But the oldest player on the roster was ready. 

“We were ready to roll,” he said. “Shoot, I’d get in there and go. Obviously, as a quarterback, you know the offense. I guess it was like 12 years ago in Foxboro I had to go in and do it.”

That game McCown was talking about was on Dec. 3, 2006. That was the last time he caught a pass in an NFL game. 

In that game, McCown caught two passes for 15 yards from Lions quarterback Jon Kitna in a 28-21 loss to the Patriots. He also caught a 31-yard pass but it was brought back on an offensive pass interference call that he claimed was “a little suspect.” 

“Hopefully, I don’t get retroactively fined,” McCown said late Monday night, 13 years after the call. 

Is there a statute of limitations on that? 

Anyway, the fact that a 40-year-old McCown was even preparing to enter a game as a receiver is telling. First, about the injuries at that position. And, second, about the poor decision to go into a game with just three healthy receivers. 

Doug Pederson said the Eagles were hoping to have Nelson Agholor for the game, but he came in questionable and was inactive. 

At least they had McCown. 

“I’m not quite the option that J.J. (Arcega-Whiteside) is or Greg (Ward), obviously, but again, we were kind of up against it a little bit,” McCown said. “Just being able to have a contingency plan was the main thing. I was ready to roll.”

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Carson Wentz rallies Eagles past Giants throwing to ... who???

Carson Wentz rallies Eagles past Giants throwing to ... who???

It was Carson Wentz’s best stretch of football this year and it occurred under some of the most unusual circumstances you can imagine.

Tight ends playing receiver. Slot receivers playing outside. Practice squad guys in key roles.

A week after the Eagles blew a 14-point second-half lead to one two-win team, they rallied back from a 14-point second-half deficit against another two-win team.

And Wentz, after another slow start, finally looked like his old self.

Wentz not only rallied the Eagles back after they trailed by 14 points with two minutes left in the third quarter, he did it while throwing to Boston Scott, Greg Ward, Josh Perkins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside – none of whom were even playing a month ago – as well as Zach Ertz.

It is not easy,” Ertz said. “As a quarterback, chemistry, trust and timing is the No. 1 thing, and he’s putting a lot of trust in guys that he does not have a lot of reps with, and I think that speaks volumes of him. Being able to go out there, and it doesn’t really matter who is out there, NFC East opponent, down 17-3, and play his best football in that second half all year? I am extremely proud of him tonight with the way he led us.

Wentz threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ critical 23-17 overtime win over the Giants at the Linc.

But look at his numbers on the Eagles’ five drives during their late comeback: 21-for-28 for 226 yards with two TD passes to Ertz, including the game-winner in overtime.

You go into the game with three receivers and now you’ve got Greg Ward usually in the slot and he’s out there playing (outside)," Wentz said. "You’ve got guys moving around. For me, I’ve got no choice but to trust these guys. Some of these routes I’ve never even repped before in those situations, but they stepped up and made plays. They did a great job.

This was vintage Wentz. But it couldn’t have happened without guys making plays around him.

And it's been a while since we've seen that.

With Nelson Agholor out, Alshon Jeffery leaving with an early injury and Mack Hollins and Jordan Matthews long gone, Wentz had to rally the Eagles back from 17-3 with guys he’s barely practiced with.

With a shot at the playoffs at stake.

Just keep believing,” Wentz said. “Keep believing and it’s time to make a decision how this is going to define us. Obviously, we knew it was not our first half. That was a rough one and that was an ugly one. We just said, ‘Keep believing and keep staying together.’ Defense was going to take care of their piece, which they did. And we were able to do enough offensively to get this win.

Wentz has had his issues this year, and he had his issues in the first half Monday night.

But it’s amazing how much better he looks when guys are actually catching footballs for him.

This was the first time the Eagles have come back from a 14-point halftime deficit since the 2014 opener, when they beat the Jaguars 34-17 after trailing 17-0.

Before that? Giants in 2010 at the Meadowlands. You might remember a DeSean Jackson punt return as time expired?

In all, the Eagles were 2-45 in their last 47 games when they trailed by at least 14 points at halftime.

Wentz was asked how big it was for him to win his first overtime game and engineer a rally from 14 down at halftime for the first time in his career.

This is huge for this whole team,” he said. “To come in after halftime, to be where we were, and obviously knowing that our backs were against the wall, season on the line-type of thing, for guys to just stay tough and stay together late in the game … and get the win and drive down to score right away? It’s huge for me personally and for this entire team.

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