PHILADELPHIA — The “All-Hype” team finally played up to their super expectations.
Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes, LeSean McCoy had a career-best 185 yards rushing and two scores and the Philadelphia Eagles routed the Dallas Cowboys 34-7 Sunday night.
Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan fired up the Eagles with some trash-talking during the summer after they added several big-name players.
Ryan, the son of beloved former Philadelphia coach Buddy Ryan, called the Eagles the “all-hype” team and predicted the Cowboys would “beat their (butt).”
He was way off.
The Eagles (3-4) dominated right from the start, improved to 13-0 after a bye under coach Andy Reid and snapped a five-game losing streak at Lincoln Financial Field that dated to last season.
The long-haired Ryan paced the sideline and desperately tried to figure out how to stop Vick and Co. It didn’t happen until the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
The Eagles racked up 495 total yards and held the ball for 42:09. They thoroughly outplayed a defense that came in ranked seventh in the NFL.
DeMarcus Ware was one of the few players who played well for Dallas (3-4). He had four sacks, and has 12 this season.
Coming off a 253-yard rushing performance in a win over St. Louis, Cowboys rookie DeMarco Murray was held to 74 yards on only eight carries.
The defending NFC East champion Eagles entered the season with a Super Bowl-or-bust mentality after adding six former Pro Bowl players in free agency and trades.
But a 1-4 start had people wondering if the self-proclaimed “Dream Team” – backup quarterback Vince Young gave the Eagles that label after signing a one-year deal – was overhyped as Ryan boldly declared in August.
After two straight wins, the Eagles are in a three-way tie with Dallas and Washington for second place behind the New York Giants (5-2).
Vick completed 21 of 28 passes for 279 yards and led the Eagles to points on their first six possessions. He also ran for 50 yards.
A swarming defense harassed Tony Romo throughout the game. Romo got sacked four times and threw an interception to Nnamdi Asomugha.
McCoy had 80 of Philadelphia’s 115 yards rushing in the first quarter. That was more than Dallas allowed in any game this season. The Eagles entered with the No. 1-ranked rushing offense and the Cowboys had the top-ranked run defense.
The Eagles took the kickoff and drove 79 yards for their first opening-drive TD this season. Vick was sacked by Ware on the first play, but he connected with Jeremy Maclin for 24 yards on the next one. McCoy had a 21-yard run and Vick scrambled 15 yards to the Cowboys 13.
On third-and-9 from the 12, Vick tossed a screen pass to Maclin, who followed a lead block by Jason Peters into the end zone.
Vick led the Eagles 90 yards with McCoy running in from the 2 for a 14-0 lead. McCoy had runs of 11 and 34 yards before scoring for the seventh straight game. He’s one short of Steve Van Buren’s team record set in 1947.
Asomugha set up Philadelphia’s third scoring drive by picking off Romo’s pass at the Eagles 33 after the ball bounced off Martellus Bennett’s hands.
Vick kept the drive going with a 9-yard run on third-and-8, and made a perfect pass to Jason Avant for a 20-yard gain on another third-and-8. He threw a strike to Brent Celek in the back of the end zone on the next play for a 9-yard TD and a 21-0 lead.
The Eagles had a first down at the Cowboys 6 on their fourth possession, but settled for a 23-yard field goal by Alex Henery that made it 24-0.
Henery kicked a 26-yarder to make it 27-0 in the third quarter. McCoy’s 13-yard run put Philadelphia up 34-0 in the fourth.
But the Cowboys spoiled the shutout bid on the ensuing possession when Romo threw a 70-yard TD pass to Laurent Robinson.
ROB MAADDI | Ft Worth Star Telegram | AP
Ladies and gentlemen, your Philadelphia Eagles.
The team that was praised too early and also buried too early — just impossible to figure in another confounding NFL season — arrived Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys lugging a 2-4 record and all of the imperatives such numbers suggest. They showed up for a game in a stadium filled with people who were wondering if they would ever see the team that they expected/anticipated/salivated over with each new free-agent signing in August.
Eagles 34, Cowboys 7.
It was a night when Chas Henry did not punt until the middle of the fourth quarter. It was a night when the Cowboys’ vaunted run defense was mutilated by Shady McCoy. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was the coach who got all of the ink during the week, but it was Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg who ended up being the evening’s unquestioned master. And Michael Vick was a sharp as we have seen him.
All of that, combined with a pass rush that set an early, terroristic tone, turned an expected drama into a farce. It also undoubtedly caught the attention of skeptics who have tut-tutted for weeks now about how the Eagles assembled talent in the off-season but did not assemble a team, and about how there was no way so much roster turnover, combined with so much turnover on the coaching staff, could ever have resulted in the kind of expectations that the Eagles carried into Opening Day.
All of it, as we now know, is just conversation — the Dream Team stuff, the snap-back against the Dream Team stuff, all of it. What we are left with is a team struggling to make up an early deficit, yes, but also a team with a lot of ability that is continuing to blossom. They have been good all year on offense, really. They started coming together defensively 2 1/2 games ago, during the loss at Buffalo.
This is the result.
The question: how much of it can they sustain?
A lot of us spent the bye week doing the math. There was no way around the notion that the Eagles were going to have to beat the Cowboys in this game, no realistic way to make the numbers work with a loss.
That was pretty much accepted by everyone. What follows is conjecture: that the Eagles probably have to win seven of their remaining nine games. Is it doable? Yes. A guesstimate on the Las Vegas odds is that they could very well be favored in just that many games, seven of nine. But it is all about showing up every week. It is the NFL’s biggest challenge and it is the thing Andy Reid teams are best at, especially in the second half of the season.
So, we’ll see. The NFC East has been reduced to this: the Giants are 5-2 and the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins are all 3-4. Watching the events of the day — the Giants surviving at home against the winless Dolphins, the Redskins getting shut out by the Bills, the Cowboys getting obliterated by the Eagles — it is not hard to envision this: four teams, with four knives, locked in a room with a hearty “good luck” and the expectation that only one of them will emerge.
The Eagles, for the first time in a while, looked like a team with a chance to do just that. If this did not get the attention of the rest of the league, nothing will. What the Eagles did in this game, more than anything, is demonstrate to the world how good they can be.
The next few weeks will tell us if they showed up in time.
Courtesy: Rich Hofmann | Philadelphia Daily News
ESPN has removed this video from their archives! Our apologies, from The Boys Are Back blog. To watch an alternative video (from ESPN) click HERE. Notice: ESPN is notorious for deleting videos after a few days.
The Dallas Cowboys decision to release Tashard Choice on Saturday will have several repercussions in tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Dallas Cowboys have two healthy running backs on the roster and both are rookies in third round pick DeMarco Murray and free agent Phillip Tanner.
Look for DeMarco Murray to get the start and also handle third downs. Phillip Tanner will supplant Murray on first and second downs but he is not ready for the third down package, a source said.
If both go down to injury, Cowboy fullback Tony Fiammetta will be the emergency running back.
Clearly, the Dallas Cowboys made the move with Tashard Choice for short-term and long-term reasons.
No matter how much they were disappointed with his fumbles, his attitude and his poor special teams play, he would have likely still been on the roster he hadn’t suffered a hamstring injury in Thursday’s practice at Cowboys Stadium.
He couldn’t practice Friday and was likely not going to be a factor against the Philadelphia Eagles.
With the team needing a roster spot to activate rookie linebacker Bruce Carter from the physically unable to perform list, sacrificing Choice made the most sense rather someone who could possibly help them in the game against the Eagles or in the near future.
The move also means that the Dallas Cowboys believe that Felix Jones will be back in the line u real soon, possibly as early as next week’s game against the Seahawks.
Felix Jones missed the Rams game and will miss the Philadelphia Eagles game with a high ankle sprain. He got out of the walking boot last week.
The Philadelphia Eagles did not activate defensive end Brandon Graham on Saturday, so he won’t play against the Dallas Cowboys.
The team had until 4 p.m. if it wanted to put Graham on the 53-man roster and make him eligible for Sunday’s game. Graham remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list. This week, he went through his first practices with the team this season but still needs to work to get into football shape.
The Eagles have two more weeks to evaluate Graham and decide whether to activate him or put him on injured reserve. If the Philadelphia Eagles activate Graham, they will have to release someone to make room on the roster.
Graham tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in December and had microfracture surgery to help repair the injury.
Courtesy: Philadelphia Inquirer
Here is our weekly look at the Daily News staff predictions for the Eagles game against the Cowboys, plus the key matchups:
Everybody knows about Andy Reid and the 12-0 record the week after the bye. Across the league, teams coming out of the bye haven’t fared very well this year, maybe because the new CBA put limits on the amount of work teams can do during the week off. But Reid never has his team do anything during the bye week, so I don’t see any effect there.
I do, however, try to keep in mind one basic fact about streaks: the longer they go on, the closer they are to being over. Nothing lasts forever. There was a time when Reid was absolutely unbeaten with an extra week to prepare, in any situation. Then came Super Bowl XXXIX.
I think the Eagles have to win this game to remain viable for the playoffs. Not technically, of course, but at a feel-it-in-your-gut level. Lose this, you’re 2-5, and you need to go 7-2 the rest of the way just to get to 9-7, 8-1 to get to 10-6. That probably doesn’t add up.
The Cowboys have improved their defense a bunch. The way some pundits talk, though, you’d think they suddenly became this dominant team by beating up on the Rams last week. I don’t get that. They’re 3-3. Their foldup against the Lions was worse than any of the Eagles’ second-half pratfalls this season.
I’m taking the Eagles here, by the skin of their teeth. I think Andy will have some new wrinkles for Jason Garrett, given the extra week to work. That might make the difference in a closely matched contest.
Prediction: Eagles 17, Cowboys 16
Here’s what Rob Ryan, brother of Rex and defensive coordinator down in the Big D offered up when asked about the Birds: “I don’t know if we win the all-hype team,” Ryan said in August. “I think that might have gone to somebody else, but we’re going to beat their ass when we play them.” There’s your motivation.
Now, here’s your history, Part 1: The Eagles have a magnificent 12-0 record coming off the bye week during the Andy Reid reign.
History, Part 2: Tony Romo has had seven regular-season starts against the Birds and has thrown 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
And it looks as if the Eagles’ walking wounded are starting to heal with DE Trent Cole and OT Jason Peters listed as probable. Great news for the Eagles as they look to climb back into contention in the muddled NFC East.
Prediction: Eagles: 28-21
Paul Domowitch: Eagles, 31-27
Ed Barkowitz: Cowboys, 24-17
Bill Conlin: Eagles, 17-16
Marcus Hayes: Eagles, 21-20
John Smallwood: Eagles, 27-24
DOMO’S KEY MATCHUPS
1. Eagles LT Jason Peters vs. Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware: Both are perennial Pro Bowlers. Peters is coming off a hamstring injury. Ware will line up in different spots, but Peters will be matched up vs. him the most. Advantage: Even
2. Eagles WRs Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant vs. Cowboys CBs Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick: Maclin and Jackson both are on 1,200-yard receiving paces. Scandrick shut down Wes Welker 2 weeks ago. Advantage: Eagles
3. Eagles LB Moise Fokou and CB Nnamdi Asomugha vs. Cowboys TE Jason Witten. Witten’s unique combination of size, strength and athleticism makes him tough to stop. He has been targeted 20 times in last three games and has caught 17 of those passes. Advantage: Cowboys
JERRY JONES ON THE BIRDS
Some interesting comments from Jerry Jones as reported in today’s Forth Worth Star-Telegram about tonight’s matchup with the Eagles and how big it is:
“As I watched them add to their roster [in the off-season], knowing what they had at the skill positions, I circled this game as arguably the toughest road game we might have. This is the kind of game you can start a foundation, with a win that you can build significantly off of. We’ve had that happen in some of the great seasons that we’ve had.
“This is, again, that kind of game, even though their record doesn’t reflect it. They’re that kind of challenge. They’re that kind of threat. And certainly playing them at home was one that you knew was going to be hard to win. I still feel that way.”
Courtesy: Philadelphia Daily News staff
Here are five things we will be watching during the Eagles-Dallas game on Sunday night:
Taming Witten. Jason Witten has pretty much been able to do whatever he’s wanted against the Eagles, which really makes him no different than the rest of the league’s tight ends. In his last nine games against the Eagles, he’s got 53 receptions for 612 yards and 5 touchdowns. Eagles linebackers need to disrupt him coming off the line of scrimmage and limit his yards after the catch.
Will the Real Run Defense Please Stand Up. As Jason Babin has correctly pointed out, teams aren’t going to stop trying to run the ball on the Eagles just because they held the Redskins to 42 yards on 14 carries two weeks ago. Cowboys were averaging just 84 rushing yards per game before rookie DeMarco Murray went on his 253-yard adventure against the Rams last week. Cowboys no doubt will try to keep the pressure off Tony Romo by running the ball.
Handling the Blitz. The Cowboys’ defense is coached by Rex Ryan’s twin brother, Rob. Like his brother and like his old man, he is a devotee of the blitz. Likes to do it a lot. From every angle, through every gap. The Eagles have allowed just nine sacks in six games, but have frequently struggled against the blitz. Michael Vick’s passing numbers v. blitz aren’t very good. Both the line and Vick need to be on top of their game Sunday night when Ryan sends extra rushers.
Squandering Yards. The Eagles are third in the league in total offense, third in passing and first in rushing. But thanks to their league-high 17 giveaways and their poor red-zone production (just 12 TDs in 29 trips inside the 20), they are just 13th in scoring and 28th in points per 100 yards (5.47). Only the Browns, Dolphins, Rams and Jaguars are averaging fewer points per 100 yards.
Good Romo/Bad Romo? There’s been no middle ground with Tony Romo v. Eagles. He’s either been Hall-of-Fame spectacular or Hall-of-Shame awful. Cowboys have won five of the last seven games Romo has started v. Eagles. In those five wins, Romo had a 111.7 passer rating . In the two losses: 39.7.
Courtesy: Paul Domowitch | Philadelphia Daily News