NFC East

Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 — NFC East hopes on life support after damaging OT loss

Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 — NFC East hopes on life support after damaging OT loss

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON, Texas — They’re just not good enough. No other way to put it. They’re good enough to keep it close, good enough to make it interesting.

They’re just not good enough to beat good teams.  

You can play around with tiebreakers and playoff scenarios all you want (see story). The 2018 Eagles are just not good enough.

Period.

Here are our 10 instant observations from the Eagles’ 29-23 overtime loss Sunday to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

1. Same old story. Terrible start. Fight like hell to get back into it. Then come up short at the end. That’s the story of the 2018 Eagles season. Why can’t they play a complete game on both sides of the ball for 60 minutes? There are a thousand reasons. Bad coaching. Poor preparation. Not enough elite players. But the bottom line is you can’t win consistently in the NFL if you can’t come out strong and finish strong. The Eagles are just incapable of playing a complete game against a decent opponent.

2. Carson Wentz’s early struggles are really becoming an epidemic, and it’s clear that neither Wentz nor his coaches have any idea how to get him going early in games. This was one of the biggest games of Wentz’s career, and he once again came out flat. He didn’t see open receivers, he misfired trying to hit open guys, he held onto the ball too long, and his pocket recognition was way off. The same pattern just keeps repeating itself. He was brilliant in the second half. But the Eagles have to figure out why he can’t put together a complete game because you can’t win this way, no matter how talented you are (see story).

3. I also don’t think Wentz got any help from Doug Pederson. Pederson's play-calling again was frustrating. Whether it was not using Josh Adams the rest of the first half after his 24-yard run on the Eagles’ fourth play of the game or that ill-advised 3rd-and-1 Wentz run right at Demarcus Lawrence or not getting Golden Tate involved, Pederson once again was unable to get the offense into any kind of rhythm for most of the game. This team just doesn’t score points the way it should.

4. The defense played bend-but-don’t-break for much of the game and held the Cowboys without a touchdown going into the fourth quarter, but the duct-tape secondary finally caught up to it and it just fell to pieces, giving up 23 points and 271 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime. Not an excuse, but I just don’t know what more it could do without Jordan Hicks, Jalen Mills, Derek Barnett, Tim Jernigan, Avonte Maddox, Ronald Darby and Rodney McLeod. The defense forced three turnovers, recorded three sacks and got decent pressure at times, but ultimately it just doesn't have the manpower to stop an offense with the weapons the Cowboys have — Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper. It's just not good enough with its current personnel (see story).

5. Pederson was back to his old ways ignoring the running game. Adams got three carries on the Eagles’ first four plays and had an eight-yard run, a minus-two and then a 24-yard gain 3:34 into the game. Then he didn’t have another carry until the third quarter and finished with just seven attempts for the game. Overall, the Eagles ran 36 pass plays and 16 running plays. I’m not saying give him 25 carries every week, but one carry in the span of six possessions for a guy who has been one of the league’s better runners the last month makes no sense. You want rhythm on offense? A nice way to get it is to mix in the running game. The Cowboys held onto the ball for 45½ minutes to 22½ minutes for the Eagles. Dallas had 36 rushing attempts!

6. The Eagles are going to have to figure some things out this offseason because the Cowboys aren’t going away. Dak Prescott threw for 455 yards and three TDs, Elliott had 113 rushing yards and 79 receiving and Cooper 217 receiving yards and three TDs (see story). Getting all the injured guys back will help, but the Eagles still have some significant work to do through the draft and free agency to build a defense that can match up with this group.

7. How big has Darren Sproles been these last two weeks? Here’s a guy who barely played any football since the 2016 season, and he had a huge touchdown in the win over the Redskins and that huge 25-yard catch and run on 4th-and-3 on the last play of the third quarter and then the game-tying TD with 1:39 left Sunday. For selfish reasons, I really hope he doesn’t retire. He’s just so much fun to watch.

8. I don’t say this enough, but Fletcher Cox is a flat-out beast. Honestly, he’s one of the Eagles’ best defensive players ever.

9. So impressed with Dallas Goedert. After catching just one pass for nine yards on the Eagles’ first nine drives, he had a huge 26-yard catch and run inside the 10 and then the game-tying touchdown with three minutes left. He finished 4 for 44 with the TD and had a 75-yard TD wiped away because of a ridiculous call. He is so talented.

10a. Nelson Agholor rarely gets the ball anymore, but the dude is just so clutch. He had one catch against the Giants and it was that huge fourth-down conversion. Then after catching just one short pass the whole game, he makes that miracle 49-yarder down the left sideline to set up the Sproles TD. I wish he was more involved, but he’s just such a gamer.

10b. Finally, I never blame the refs for anything. There are always bad calls, and you live with them. But that ruling to open the game, that there was no clear recovery by the Eagles on the Jourdan Lewis fumble, and the ensuing confirmation by the replay officials, was just absurd (see story). And the offensive pass interference on Goedert that wiped out the 75-yard game-tying TD was worse. Just inexcusable stuff.

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Eagles at Cowboys live: Score, highlights, analysis from NFL Week 14 game

Eagles at Cowboys live: Score, highlights, analysis from NFL Week 14 game

 

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7:51 p.m.: That’s a crusher. Rasul Douglas got his hand on the ball in overtime on third down, but it deflected up to Amari Cooper who ran into the end zone for a touchdown. Ballgame. Awful way to lose. 

Final: Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 

7:34 p.m.: The Cowboys were driving at the end of regulation, but the Eagles got a late sack to send this game to extras. We’re going to overtime with the season on the line, game tied 23-23. 

Here. We. Go. 

7:26 p.m.: This is somehow still a game. An insane, doesn’t-make-any-sense wild game. The Eagles just drove 75 yards and Carson Wentz hit Darren Sproles for a six-yard touchdown. There’s 1:39 left. 

Eagles 23, Cowboys 23 

7:19 p.m.: The Eagles should have tied the game on a 75-yard touchdown catch by Dallas Goedert, but the refs called OPI. Ridiculous call. One of the worst I’ve ever seen. Still, Eagles driving with 2 minutes left. 

7:08 p.m.: The Eagles have life!

After another defensive stop, the Eagles got the ball on a short field and drove 47 yards to get in the end zone. Carson Wentz hit Dallas Goedert for a nice gainer and then for a 3-yard touchdown. There’s 3:12 left in regulation. 

Cowboys 16, Eagles 16 

6:55 p.m.: The Cowboys went on a 75-yard drive after the Eagles tied the game to retake the lead. The touchdown came on a 28-yard pass from Dak Prescott to Amari Cooper. It was a perfect ball that beat Sidney Jones in coverage. Jones was picked on during the drive. There’s 7:46 left in the game. 

Cowboys 16, Eagles 9 

6:34 p.m.: Buckle up. After a strip sack, the Eagles are driving as we get ready to enter the fourth quarter. 

After three: Cowboys 9, Eagles 6

But this is a game. It and the Eagles’ season might come down to these last 15 minutes. 

6:20 p.m.: One play can change the game. That just happened. 

Dak Prescott sailed a ball that Corey Graham intercepted and returned to the Dallas two yard line. On the next play, Carson Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery on a quick hitter. They ran the play they took from the Patriots earlier this season. 

But then Jake Elliott missed the extra point. Of course he did. 

Still, life in Dallas with 6:04 left in the third quarter. 

Cowboys 9, Eagles 6 

6:08 p.m.: The Eagles’ stagnant offense had a quick 3-and-out, the Cowboys drove down the field and kicked another field goal. The way this Eagles’ offense is playing, that might put the game out of reach. There’s still 8:59 left in the third quarter. 

Cowboys 9, Eagles 0 

5:44 p.m.: Just before the end of the half, the Cowboys had 1 second left and Brett Maher kicked a 62-yard field goal to put the Cowboys up by two field goals. 

At half: Cowboys 6, Eagles 0 

The Eagles are incredibly lucky they are down just six points in this game. It feels like it’s 35-0. The stats aren’t good, but the Eagles are down one score and get the ball back to start the second half. They desperately need to get something going. 

- The Cowboys ougtained the Eagles 233-70 in the first half. 

- Ezekiel Elliott had 72 rushing yards. So he’s outgunning the Eagles by himself. When you add his receiving yards, he’s up to 111 for the game. 

- The Cowboys have 14 first downs; the Eagles have four. 

- The Cowboys held the ball for 21:14 in the first half; the Eagles had it 8:46. 

And it’s still a one-score game. 

5:34 p.m.: As Dallas was threatening to score late in the second quarter, Doug Pederson accepted a holding call on third down to force a 3rd-and-23. Then on the next play, Rasul Douglas made a huge stop. Then the Cowboys missed a 45-yarder. 

5:10 p.m.: Huge INT from Rasul Douglas in the end zone early in the second quarter. It’s his second INT of the season. He now leads the team. Eagles ball down 3-0. 

Meanwhile, Corey Clement (knee) and Sidney Jones (hamstring) are both listed as questionable to return. 

5:01 p.m.: I still can’t get that opening kickoff that should have been a fumble out of my head, but the whole first quarter has already ticked away. The Cowboys are clinging to a small lead as we enter the second quarter. 

Carson Wentz has looked off early, which isn’t a good sign for the Eagles. They need more from him. 

After 1: Cowboys 3, Eagles 0 

4:33 p.m.: Weird start to this game. The Eagles forced a fumble on the opening kickoff, but the ball was ruled to belong to Dallas. The replay clearly showed the fumble, but the refs said there was no clear recovery. That was a bad call from them. It looked pretty clear the Eagles recovered. 

But the Eagles forced a 3-and-out anyway. 

4:12 p.m.: Some good results for the Eagles in the wild card race from the 1 p.m. games: 

Browns 26, Panthers 20

Giants 40, Redskins 16 

Saints 28, Buccaneers 14 

The Panthers and Redskins came into today with 6-6 records, while the Bucs were 5-7. The two teams in the wild card spots in the NFC right now play on Monday night: Vikings at Seahawks.  

4:08 p.m.: We’re getting close to kickoff. 

Here are some scenes from pregame warmups down here in the spaceship in Arlington: 

3:05 p.m.: Here’s the Eagles’ full list of inactive players on Sunday:  

Tim Jernigan (back spasms) 
Jordan Hicks (calf)
Avonte Maddox (knee, ankle)
Jordan Mailata
Matt Pryor
Chandon Sullivan 
Nate Sudfeld 

2:55 p.m.: I had someone accuse me of putting too much pressure on Carson Wentz after I tweeted this. Obviously, I’m not putting too much pressure on Wentz. There’s obviously a ton of pressure on him in this game. He needs to perform well if the Eagles have a chance to win and it’s the biggest game of their season. 

12:10 p.m.: Could this provide the Eagles a slight advantage?

10:57 a.m.: The 1 p.m. games to keep an eye on today: 

-Panthers at Browns 

-Saints at Buccaneers

-Giants at Redskins

The Redskins and Panthers are both 6-6 and the Bucs are 5-7, so all three teams are technically still in the wild card race. On Monday night, the two teams currently in the wild card spots — Seahawks and Vikings — play in Seattle. 

9:30 a.m.: If you needed to get even more pumped up for this game, may I suggest watching this video. 

“When the lights get bright, guess what, you get brighter!”

8 a.m.: Good morning, everyone! Are you all ready for the biggest game of the season? 

The Eagles got to Dallas yesterday afternoon for this game. Jalen Mills made the trip even though he was placed on IR. That’s a tough loss for the rest of the year, but he had already been ruled out for this game. 

I caught up with Lane Johnson as the Eagles arrived to the team hotel. This Dallas game always means more to him because he’s from Texas. He has a bunch of family coming in for the game, but this time Grandma knows who to root for. 

Little later start for this game, but we’ll try to update the blog throughout the day. 

Be sure to watch Eagles Pregame Live at 3 p.m. and tune in after the game for our complete breakdown on Eagles Postgame Live. 

NFL playoff picture: Cowboys' win over Saints threw a buzzsaw into Eagles' postseason hopes

NFL playoff picture: Cowboys' win over Saints threw a buzzsaw into Eagles' postseason hopes

We had all concocted this plan about how the Eagles were going to win on Monday night and create a three-way tie atop the NFC East and then the Cowboys went ahead and ruined it. 

Last night, the Cowboys shocked everyone and beat the Saints 13-10 at AT&T Stadium and are now firmly in the driver’s seat of the NFC East. It was a game we all penciled in as a loss for the Cowboys and now that it’s a win, it changes things. 

According to the statistics website FiveThirtyEight, the Cowboys’ chances to win the NFC East went from 54 percent before the win to 70 percent after. The Eagles’ chances to win the division yesterday were 21 percent, down to 15 percent today. 

Here’s an updated look at the NFC East standings: 

Cowboys: 7-5
Redskins: 6-5
Eagles: 5-6
Giants: 3-8 

The good news for the Eagles is that a lot of their fate still rests in their hands with the next two games. If they beat Washington, they would be 6-6 and if they beat the Cowboys next week, both teams would be 7-6. Obviously, winning those two games, especially in Dallas after the Saints couldn’t even win there, won’t be easy. But it’s there for the taking. 

For the sake of assuming the Eagles still have a chance in this thing, we’ll go forward with the idea that they win the next two games. That means they are tied with the Cowboys at a 7-6 record going into Week 15. And things get incredibly hard from there. 

Here are the Cowboys’ three final games: 

at Indianapolis (6-5)   
vs. Tampa Bay (4-7)
at New York Giants (3-8) 

And the Eagles’ final three games: 

at L.A. Rams (10-1)    
vs. Houston (8-3)
at Washington (6-5) 

It seems pretty clear that the Cowboys have an easier remaining schedule. Their opponent win percentage is 39.3 percent, compared to the Eagles’ opponent win percentage of 72.7 percent. Yikes. 

It seems really possible that even if the Cowboys were to lose to the Eagles at home next weekend, they could still win out, giving them a 10-6 record that would be really hard for the Eagles to reach. They would need to win out and they haven’t won back-to-back games all year. 

Obviously, that Eagles-Cowboys game will be huge. If the Eagles beat Washington on Monday and then beat the Cowboys next weekend, they would give Dallas two losses in the division. After head-to-head record, the next tiebreaker to settle a division winner is division record. The Eagles still have a chance to have just one division loss, but the chances obviously aren’t good. 

The Eagles still have some hope of making it to the playoffs, but the Cowboys’ win over the Saints really threw a buzzsaw into this whole plan. It’s one heck of an uphill battle now. 

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