AROUND THE NFC EAST – DOWN THE HATCH: Washington Redskins will open 2014 training camp without Jason Hatcher | Former Dallas Cowboys DE sidelined
RICHMOND, Va. — Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden says defensive end Jason Hatcher and three other players will be sidelined when training camp practice begins Thursday.
Gruden said today that Hatcher, defensive end Stephen Bowen and receiver Leonard Hankerson are still recovering from knee surgeries, while backup guard Maurice Hurt is out of shape.
Hatcher, acquired as a free agent from the Dallas Cowboys, had arthroscopic surgery last month. He is expected to return quicker than Bowen and Hankerson, who had more significant injuries.
The coach says quarterback Robert Griffin III’s physical condition is “not an issue” 18 months removed from major knee surgery. Says Gruden: “The key for him is to learn from his mistakes.”
Gruden is leading a camp for the first time. He says he’ll have “butterflies” making sure everything’s right.
AROUND THE NFC EAST: Tracking The Evil Empire | The 2014-2015 division pre-training camp watch | Assessing the biggest issues facing the Dallas Cowboys rivals
IRVING, Texas – It’s a bit hard to believe, but football is here – the makings of football, at least.
It would have been too easy and too boring for the Dallas Cowboys if DeSean Jackson had disappeared off to Oakland or Cleveland.
Instead, he’ll turn the spotlight back on Washington — which is precisely where it was for much of 2013, if you’ll remember. Jackson agreed to terms with the Redskins last night.
DeSean Jackson has never been a fan of the Cowboys. The receiver once famously declared “we gonna sting they ass’’ when he played for Philadelphia.
Jackson didn’t do a lot of stinging against the Cowboys the last three seasons. Will he have a better chance now that he’s with Washington?
It almost seemed like the inevitable conclusion to Jackson’s release from Philadelphia last week. In keeping with the NFC East’s penchant for drama, the move not only keeps him within the same division as his old team, the Eagles, but also his old nemesis, the Cowboys.
The news brings a strange story to an end, as it had only been five days since the Eagles released Jackson for no definitive reason. It was widely speculated the three-time Pro Bowler would find a new home relatively quickly, and Washington wasted no time after visiting with Jackson on Monday night.
As if the storied Cowboys-Redskins rivalry needed any more juice, it certainly has picked up a bit this offseason. Washington signed lifelong Cowboys and 2013 Pro Bowler Jason Hatcher just three days into free agency, and now the Redskins have added Jackson — a favorite target of Dallas fans during his career in Philadelphia.
In truth, Jackson’s success against the Cowboys has been lacking when compared to his impressive six-year career. He has played 11 games against Dallas, tallying 39 catches for 688 yards and just two touchdowns. That’s an average of 3.5 catches for 62.5 yards per game.
There are two obvious outliers there: Jackson torched the Cowboys for 210 yards and a touchdown on four catches in 2010, and he was also limited to just six catches for 49 yards in two games last year.
That said, the addition of one of the league’s best deep threats is an undeniable boon for Washington. The Redskins have been lacking explosiveness in the passing game for what feels like ages. In fact, Pierre Garcon’s 1,346-yard effort in 2013 was the team’s first 1,000-yard season by a receiver since 2010, and it was just the team’s fourth 1,000-yard receiving season since 2004.
Combining Garcon and Jackson is undoubtedly going to open up the passing game for Robert Griffin III, who hasn’t had a true No. 1 receiver during his brief NFL career. It should also decrease the focus on Alfred Morris and Washington’s vaunted ground game, which was already plenty successful when the Redskins didn’t have a deep threat like Jackson.
On paper, at least, this is Washington’s most intimidating offense in some time. If Griffin returns to his 2012 form, and the offensive line can keep him on his feet, the Redskins should have no problems scoring points.
Of course, the offense scored plenty last season. The bigger problem was a leaky defense — something every team in the NFC East can likely relate to. The Redskins have taken some steps toward fixing that, headlined by the addition of Hatcher.
But there’s no doubt that adding Jackson is the first truly blockbuster move an NFC East team has made this offseason. The Cowboys and Redskins had both already added Pro Bowlers to this point — but Hatcher is turning 32 and Henry Melton is coming off ACL surgery.
The Eagles made waves by trading for Darren Sproles, but he is more of a complimentary piece. The Giants have added several good-not-great players, but no bonafide stars.
The Jackson deal is sure to put the Redskins in the limelight during Jay Gruden’s first season as coach. It’s hard to imagine high expectations for a team that finished 3-13 and doesn’t possess a first-round draft pick, but that’s what it’s looking like.
Signing an All-Pro, hot button target can do that for you — especially in this division.
IT’S OVER … FAT LADY SINGS: Philadelphia Eagles end Dallas Cowboys 2013 season | Trifecta complete: All NFC East teams sweep Cowboys playoff hopes
ARLINGTON — Unexpectedly, drama filled AT&T Stadium. Hope – and the Cowboys — were alive with less than two minutes remaining in tonight’s season finale.
But backup quarterback Kyle Orton, subbing for injured Tony Romo, threw an interception with 1:43 left, clinching Philadelphia’s 24-22 NFC East-clinching victory over the Dallas Cowboys before a sellout crowd of 91,166.
The game was closer and more thrilling than expected, but result was all-too-familiar for the Cowboys. For the fourth straight year, they’ll watch the playoffs from home.
For the third straight year, Dallas lost a win-or-stay home regular-season finale and finished 8-8. Philadelphia, not Dallas, is the NFC’s No. 3 seed and will host New Orleans next Saturday in the first round of the playoffs.
The 25th season of Jerry Jones’ ownership, like so many others since the early ‘90s Super Bowl glory years, ended with a thud. The past 17 seasons have produced seven playoff appearances and one solitary postseason victory.
The current playoff drought is the third-longest in the franchise’s 54-year history, behind those incurred during the franchise’s first six seasons (1960-1965) and the five-year drought of 1986-1990.
Before this season, Jones hired a 73-year-old defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Head coach Jason Garrett ceded play-calling responsibilities to Bill Callahan, but the Cowboys remained on a treadmill of mediocrity.
The Cowboys pulled within two points with 3:50 remaining when, on fourth and nine, Kyle Orton found Dez Bryant over the middle for a 32-yard touchdown pass.
NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles | The Cowboys Eagles rivalry continues | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys NFL Game 16
NFL FILMS COWBOYS EAGLES PREVIEW:
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
NFL Films previews the 2013-2014 NFL Season Week 17 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. (Watch the Preview)
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards
View NFL | Dallas Cowboys game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game.
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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game
Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.
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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game
To watch on network TV, tune to:
KXAS-TV/NBC 5 Dallas Ft. Worth | WCAU-TV/NBC 10 Philadelphia
Out of market? Click HERE to (legally) watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)
When: Sunday, December 29th, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (Dallas time)
Where: Cowboys AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX
Watch on TV: NBC | DirecTV
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: The Boys Are Back website
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COWBOYS VS. EAGLES GAMEPLAN: NFC East rivals clash tonight in Big D for division title | Pregame Scouting Report | Eagles @ Cowboys 2013 2014 regular season finale
Their Nemesis: DeMarcus Ware
In 16 career games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Ware has been a one man wrecking crew. He has accounted for over 90 tackles, 16 sacks, eight tackles for loss, 32 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. There has been twice in his career where he has had 11 tackles in a game against the Eagles with the last one coming in 2011.
Ware also recorded four sacks in a game and that also came in 2011. Ware has also faced the Eagles in the playoffs, with five tackles, three quarterback pressures, a pair of sacks and a fumble recovery. Ware missed the game the first time that these two teams met earlier this year in Philadelphia, which was the first time that he missed a game.
Without Ware in the lineup that day, the Cowboys had their best defensive performance of the season in a 17-3 victory. But make no mistake about it, this Cowboys defense needs Ware this time around to attempt to slow down this Eagles offensive attack with Nick Foles at quarterback. Ware will get some opportunities to rush from both sides in this matchup.
I do feel like that he can break down Jason Peters, if the secondary can make him hold the ball a second or two longer. Where I really like Ware is on the opposite side in dealing with rookie Lane Johnson who on tape has had his share of troubles in trying to handle those power rushers.
Our Weapon: Orlando Scandrick
What Monte Kiffin and this defensive staff has shown the that they are not afraid to match their best corners on the opponents best threats. The way that DeSean Jackson has been playing this season, the Cowboys will need to match him with a corner that can play with quickness and straight line speed, Scandrick is that guy.
Where the Eagles might work their way around this is try and keep Jackson out of the slot which is where Scandrick does the majority of his work but Kiffin is in much better shape corner wise, then he was the last time these two team met. Morris Claiborne should be back and active but Sterling Moore is also in the mix and that will help. I believe that Jackson is too quick for both Brandon Carr and that presents a big problem when you match him on the outside.
With Jackson, there is that fear that he can score from anywhere on the field and that is why you need to match him with a player that has the ability to function under that pressure. He has been the best player in the secondary for Monte Kiffin and this defense despite having a couple of games against the Bears and Packers where I didn’t feel like he was at his best.
Orlando Scandrick also has faced DeSean Jackson enough in his career to understand how he needs to play him and that is very important when you are trying to match a player with this much talent, because he goes all over the field.
Under Their Radar: Jeff Heath
This will be a critical game on a couple of different fronts for these Cowboys safeties, especially Jeff Heath. Monte Kiffin with Sean Lee out of the lineup, is once again going to have to bring Barry Church down to help in the running game on LeSean McCoy.
That means that we are going to see plenty of single high safety and that is going to fall in the lap of Heath as that deep defender. Where Heath is going to need to be at his best is with all these routes that also go down the field in helping these corners. The Eagles like to get their receivers down the field on the outside and work their tight ends inside.
I expect that Kiffin is going to try and match his secondary on these receivers, so that will mean plenty of man coverage and that is the way he should play them. The more you can be physical with them, the better chance you have the chance to survive. It is going to be important that Heath is able to play with his eyes but also anticipate where the ball is going to be.
In the pocket, Foles will try and move the secondary with ball fakes, so Heath has to really be careful that he doesn’t get thrown off by this. Heath will need to make sure that he is in the proper position in routes but also in the running game because there will be plays that the Eagles break with McCoy or Jackson and a stop needs to be made right there.
Our Nemesis: DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson currently leads the Eagles in receptions with 79 and is tied with LeSean McCoy in touchdown with nine. Jackson is a perfect fit in the Chip Kelly offense because how Kelly likes to use his personnel all over the field in different formations either getting the ball on the move or vertically down the field.
There have been some times this season where Kelly lines him up in the backfield and runs him on routes from there. What makes him so difficult to deal with is the speed and quickness in which he plays with. Jackson is one of those players that if you play off coverage on him, he is going to eat up your cushion in a hurry.
He is on you right now and if he is on you, he is by you. There have been days though where Jackson has been his own worst enemy with drops. As many times as I have seen him catch the ball on the move, there have been times where he has appeared to hear footsteps and drop ball of two that he should have made a play on.
I would not say that he has the most consistent hands and there are times where they have let him down. Jackson still is an unique talent that has rare ability. I expect Monte Kiffin’s answer to dealing with him in this game will be to walk Orlando Scandrick up on him and let him carry him all over the field.
Their Weapon: LeSean McCoy
Nervous as this Cowboys defense is about playing against DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy presents an even more difficult problem. This Chip Kelly offense is perfectly tailored to his running style. McCoy is one of those backs that can take simple plays and make them into huge gains. Did doesn’t matter if it is a hand off out of the read option or a screen pass in the flat, he is going to be hard to handle. He has the unique ability to make the first man miss, then get in the open field and make others miss.
He is an explosive runner that when he can turn his shoulders and go downhill, he can be tough to bring down. The best way to slow him down, is get him going sideways and not allow him to turned up the field.
Makes some violent cuts in the way he runs the ball. Can plant his foot in the ground and explode off it. Will take the ball off the read option, allowing the line to get into their blocks, then hitting it to the back side as the defense over runs the play.
Unique talent that has that ability to make you miss. Plays with outstanding hands, rare to see him drop a pass. Has a feel for how to work himself open, secure the catch and head up the field. Hard player to completely shut down.
Cowboys did a really nice job of getting off blocks the last time these two teams played and were able to get to McCoy before he was able to get going.
Under The Radar: Mychal Kendricks
The Eagles have several good, young players on their defensive roster, but one guy that really caught my eye was linebacker Mychal Kendricks. He was a 2nd round selection by the Eagles in 2012 and right now, he looks like a quality pick. The first thing you notice about him is how quick he plays. He is very active and is a difficult guy to block when he is on the move.
Looks like a nice scheme fit for this 3 – 4 defense because he can get away from blocks. Is physical short, but does play with some pop at the point of attack. Will be used on blitzes to attack the pocket. Can be a relentless guy when it comes to rushing the passer.
Does a really nice job of chasing the ball. Strong enough to play off blocks. Can be physical when he needs to be. Is a very good tackler in space. Hard guy to get away from when he has the ball carrier wrapped up. Can really close when he sees the ball, has a burst and some explosive traits.
Showed the ability to carry the back out of the backfield. Moves with ease and it able to stay in position while playing the route. Is one of those defensive players you have to be aware of and make sure you get a hat on him at all times.
KEY GAMEDAY MATCHUPS: Cowboys have to pressure Foles | Rookies in trenches
Cowboys C Travis Frederick vs. Eagles NT Bennie Logan
This will be an interesting matchup between two rookies that are both helping their teams with a high level of play.
Travis Frederick has been rock solid in the middle for the Cowboys since he was put in the lineup as a Day 1 starter. He has not always been perfect, but for a young guy to handle all the things that have been thrown his way speaks volumes for the type of player that he is.
He will be battling one of my favorite players from the 2013 NFL Draft in Bennie Logan. There have been plenty of questions about the lack of drafting defensive linemen on this team, and I have to admit I was surprised that Logan didn’t get more consideration from this scouting and coaching staff. LSU has put several defensive linemen in this league with some with mixed success, but in my view, Logan was different.
Where Frederick has improved over the season has been against the 3-4 nose men that play with power. Logan will be a strong test in this area for Frederick because he does play with power and can be difficult to handle on the move. Where Frederick is going to have to be at his best is when the ball is stretched to the edge, that he maintains his position throughout the block and not allow Logan to penetrate and be disruptive to the play.
Frederick must find ways to finish his blocks both run and pass.
Cowboys Defensive Line vs. Eagles Offensive Line
The last time these two clubs met in Philadelphia, I thought the game was won up front for the Cowboys with the amount of pressure that they were able to apply — not only in the passing game but how they were able to handle things in the running game.
For this squad to get a victory Sunday night, they are going to need that same kind of effort, and they’ll need to find ways to play on the Eagles’ side of the line of scrimmage. As bad as Nick Foles was in that game last time, it was the defensive line that caused him the issues.
Monte Kiffin and this defense need to attack this Eagles offensive line and make them have to scramble to sustain their blocks. To this point in time this season, that was the best game that they’ve played as a group when it came to getting off blocks and being where they needed to be with their responsibilities.
They are going to need that same kind of effort again on Sunday night. For the Eagles, it is real simple: they have to do a better job of not allowing this Cowboys defensive front control the game like they did last time out. The Eagles have some talented players on their offensive line and it is going to be a battle up front.
Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis, Jason Peters are quality players, with rookie Lane Johnson improving. Keep an eye on how this matchup progresses throughout the night because I believe this is where the game is going to be won or lost once again.
EAGLES @ COWBOYS GAMEDAY GUT CHECK: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles | 2013-2014 NFL Game 16 regular season finale
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys and Eagles … winner takes it all.
That’s where we are once again. The Dallas Cowboys are no strangers to this game, having faced the Giants and Redskins the last two years in Week 17 finales with the NFC East title on the line. We know how the Cowboys fared in those games but even without Tony Romo and Sean Lee, can the Cowboys turn the tide this year?
Here are the gut feelings for insiders Nick Eatman, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
Helman: The one thing I’ve learned about the Dallas Cowboys this season is to expect the unexpected. I’ve seen too many crazy things to write this game off just because Tony Romo is missing. In fact, I think the Dallas offense is going to be just fine with Kyle Orton in charge. Orton’s going to throw three touchdowns and an interception, and if the Cowboys are smart they’ll lean on DeMarco Murray – who certainly has another 90-yard game in him. Unfortunately, it’s going to be the defense that sinks the upset bid. The Cowboys might slow down LeSean McCoy, or they might make life difficult for Nick Foles, but I don’t think they can do both without Sean Lee. Philadelphia is going to have 500 yards before it’s over, and they’ll clinch the division in a 42-28 win.
Kavner: There’s never been more question marks about this team, and it just so happens that it’s in Week 17 of a third straight win-or-go-home season finale to decide the NFC East. For that reason, it’s difficult to pick the Dallas Cowboys in this one with any confidence. It’s a shame Tony Romo doesn’t even have the chance to reverse his legacy after getting the Cowboys in with a game-winning drive, but this will be Kyle Orton’s ship to sail the rest of the way. There are worse options around the league that a team would have to turn to. The loss of Sean Lee, who was instrumental in the teams’ first matchup, can’t be stressed enough. I don’t believe anyone saying the Cowboys just have no shot, but they’ll need to find a pass rush if they’re to survive. I think Orton looks to Jason Witten a ton, DeMarco Murray goes over the 100-yard mark for the third time in four games and a Dallas safety gets a pick, but the Cowboys fall by a touchdown late.
Eatman: Glad the Romo news came out when it did, because my gut would’ve said something about Romo finding a way to play. All week I had a hunch he would at least try to play. So right there, I’ve already admitted my gut is a little off. Or, maybe I’m due to even it out. So Romo is out, Sean Lee is out. Those are your offensive and defensive quarterbacks. Ware didn’t practice, Dez has a back issue, too. Kyle Orton hasn’t started in two years and the Eagles just scored over 50 points on a team that whipped the Cowboys two weeks ago. So … give me Dallas in a wild, crazy game that makes no sense. I don’t have great logic here. But personally, come Monday morning, I don’t think the season will be over. I think there is still stuff for this team to do. I think the defense gets turnovers and finds a way to slow down the train. Jason Witten will be Kyle Orton’s best friend and catch 10 passes and DeMarco Murray, who didn’t play the first game with the Eagles, has another big-time performance. The Cowboys will win this game 38-34 and will face … San Francisco in the playoffs next week.
WORLDWIDE EXCLUSIVE: The Great Robbini’s predictions for Game #16 regular season finale | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Regular readers know that The Boys Are Back website features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Our “exalted one” predicts the fate of America’s Team with unprecedented precision and accuracy from week-to-week. Kinda!
Last week, eerily donning his old Jon Kitna jersey and a handful of Doan’s back pills, The GREAT Robbini correctly predicted a Dallas Cowboys win over the NFC East division cellar dwelling Washington Redskins. It was a close game … full of dramatic Cowboy mystic on the back (literally) of Tony Romo grit and determination. That rematch was a must-win game and ended with a Romo last minute do-or-die drive! It set up this NFL flexed Sunday Night primetime showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Kelly green bunch from Philadelphia are full of confidence and strutting like the only cock in a packed hen house. Well, let’s just say … it’s yet to be determined just WHO will be circling WHO in this final battle! Dallas does have the philanthropic math teacher from Washington back on the roster, in case there is a true blue quarterbacking emergency!
Tonight, The GREAT Robbini has eagerly stroked his balls and envisions a complete Viking-like transformation behind the leadership of Kyle Orton, the X-Factor Dez Bryant, and Marinelli’s Misfits anchored by world-class sackmaster DeMarcus Ware. Let it be known, the aging Robbini is drawing on decades (maybe centuries) of crystal ball and leather ball waxing and rubbing. Do NOT take his predictions lightly! As you can see from his glaring-eyed, younger than Monte Kiffin’ish reflection above, he’s drawing on some serous vibes (and possibly indigestion or constipation issues)!
The GREAT ONE was able to shoot me an email with some astonishing sights and stats. His glossy ball emitted images of a very determined Jason Garrett lead Dallas Cowboys team and supportive home crowd sportin’ some Christmas and New Year playoff magic. Jerry Jones’ five dollar Miller Lite’s will help.
Obviously, he’s psyched about the Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles rematch with Chippy the Hippy… and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions …
The GREAT Robbini’s – 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game #16 predictions:
The 2013 Dallas Cowboys become the unlikely division winner. If that isn’t enough don’t forget that the Cowboys now have the distinction of twice sweeping the division. Something no other team in the NFC East has ever pulled off.
Do you wanna know how they do it? Its quite simple.
Without Tony Romo, the tattered Dallas defensive unit comes in ready to play. Knowing they now have to force stops, make tackles, and take away balls. In a measure of self-preservation, the NFL’s worst ranked D steps up to the challenge.
In the absence of Tony Romo this offensive line goes into beast mode. For the sake of Romo (and the season) and in a showing for Kyle Orton and D Murray, these guys play precision football. Dez and Co. dedicate an All-Star showing to their fallen general by lighting an offensive fire before the home crowd’s eyes. Jason Garrett’s Dallas Cowboys rise up on Sunday night and make a statement.
These guys play as a team. They have to. The only shame is having to wait until now. That it had to come to this. With plenty of excuses, this team very well could’ve ended it 12-4 and clinched a birth weeks ago. Missing personnel, bad planning, and premature celebrations. We’ve seen it all. Well, on Sunday Night Football you’ll see something else. Something you can be proud of.
Predictions for the Texas 2 Defense …
- 2 takeaways
- 3 sacks on Foles
- Foles fumbles the ball
- 2 sacks Hatcher
- 1 sack Ware
- fumble recovery Church
- D gives up 310 in the air
- D gives up 110 on the ground
- Foles rushes for 20yds
Predictions for the offense …
- Orton 300 yds.
- Bryant Touchdown
- Beasley Touchdown
- Witten Touchdown
- Murray Touchdown
- Austin Touchdown
- Murray/Randall 155 all purpose yards
- Dez 150yards
- Witten 50yards
- Cowboys receive second half kick
The GREAT Robbini
Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for game #16 regular season finale. Feel free to leave your final score or predictions in the comment section.
Stats and predictions to be confirmed by:
COWBOYS REDSKINS GAME 15 RECAP: Dallas Cowboys come from behind win full of surprises | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
What surprised you most on the final offensive drive?
I watched it from field level and I am looking forward to catching it on tape as we head home, but just the confidence that Tony Romo continued to show in Terrance Williams surprised me most. Give both Williams and Romo a great deal of credit. There was no doubt that the Redskins were not going to allow Dez Bryant or Jason Witten to beat them in that situation, so working the ball in the direction of Williams was the smart play throughout the drive.
Even if Romo would have gone in the direction of Cole Beasley, I would have expected it. What was even more amazing about it was how poised Williams was in the way he ran his routes, which allowed Romo to find him. It would have been very easy for Williams to allow the moment to be too big and be lazy or not committed to what he needed to do on the drive. He executed well and he rewarded his quarterback with some big time plays.
By the coaches playing Williams early in the season and giving him responsibility, it made him ready for this type of moment. It was nice to see that Romo trusted him as well.
How much does DeMarco Murray mean to this offense?
You have heard me say this a bunch: When you have a running back that is a complete player, you have a chance in this league to move the ball with success.
Murray has played this season with a chip on his shoulder. There were those that doubted his ability, whether he could be a difference-maker as a running back, and that he was too injury prone to have any long-term success. What Murray did today was nothing short of amazing. Other than the run on the final drive where he made the mental mistake and loss nine yards on the carry, he ran the ball with toughness and determination.
He stood tall in the pocket on blitz pickup and refused to give an inch, but he also was once again outstanding in having the awareness to find space underneath in routes. From my angle on the sideline, I wasn’t sure that Romo saw him, but he was able to get him the ball. What was impressive about the catch was Murray’s ability to secure the ball and then keep his balance in order to fight his way into the end zone.
There are plenty of important players on this team, but if you don’t think DeMarco Murray is one of them, you really are not in tune with the game.
How confident were you that the defense could get one final stop?
This defense has had its share of problems this season. They have struggled with pressure, they don’t always play the run well enough, and when it comes to handling a receiver on third down to get off the field, they are far from perfect.
But give Monte Kiffin and this defense a ton of credit on the final two Redskins drives. It was evident that Washington was interested in trying to protect a lead and was committed to trying to do just that. Although offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan slammed Alfred Morris into the line time and time again, the defense did not allow the Redskins to get in a manageable third-down situation and despite a pass to Aldrick Robinson, they were able to bow their necks and make a stop with Orlando Scandrick playing against Pierre Garcon in the middle of the field, forcing a punt.
When the Redskins took the ball over on their final drive, the Cowboys defense went in lockdown mode. The coverage from field level was airtight and it was difficult for any of the Washington receivers to find any space. Scandrick, Sterling Moore, Brandon Carr, Jeff Heath and Barry Church were at their best when this defense needed them the most.
I kept my eyes down the field and I never witnessed the open receivers that at times we had seen earlier in the game. The coverage and pressure made Kirk Cousins look like the young, inexperienced quarterback that he was. With their season on the line, this Cowboys defense did something I am sure none of us believed they could do – made two stops and gave this squad a shot to play for a division title next week.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Dallas Cowboys Analyst/Former Scout
The Dallas Cowboys control their own destiny. Win and you’re in.
It wasn’t always pretty, the problems that have plagued the team in recent weeks again showing up at times today, but in the end, Dallas brought home a 24-23 victory over the Redskins, setting the stage for a one-game showdown against Philadelphia next Sunday.
Tony Romo was at his best when his team needed him the most, leading the Cowboys on a late fourth-quarter drive that gave Dallas the come-from-behind victory. He finished the day completing 17-of-27 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, as rookie Terrance Williams led the club with 84 yards receiving while Dez Bryant added 73 more.
After taking criticism for abandoning the running game last week, the Cowboys handed the ball off to DeMarco Murray 22 times in this one, and he rushed for 96 yards. In the process, he became the first Dallas running back to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing for a season since Julius Jones did so in 2006. Murray also had three catches for 15 yards and scored twice, including the game-winner.
Defensively, the ravaged unit again struggled to contain its opponent, particularly wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who had a field day with 144 receiving yards off of 11 catches. But quarterback Kirk Cousins finished with just 197 yards passing while Alfred Morris pounded out 88 yards on 24 rushing attempts. And like Romo, the Dallas D did what it had to do when it had to do it, getting two big stops in the fourth quarter to help lead the team to the win.
The Cowboys offense experienced each end of the field-position spectrum on their first two series of the game. After the Redskins went three-and-out to start, newly signed return man Michael Spurlock took the ensuing punt at his own 35, got great blocks from Danny McCray and Jeff Heath, and darted down the right sideline 62 yards to the Redskins 3.
Already on the doorstep, Dallas then needed just two plays to score the game’s first touchdown, Murray barreling in for the 7-0 lead.
But on the Cowboys’ next possession, they experienced the exact opposite. Another Washington punt this time rolled down to the Dallas 2-yard line, and with their backs against the wall, the offense was forced to punt. So this time it was the Redskins who enjoyed good field position, and they were able to eventually kick a 36-yard field goal to get on the board.
Washington narrowed the lead to 7-6 with a 22-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, and the Cowboys appeared in trouble again when a penalty on the kickoff return pushed them back to their own 7. But Murray took a handoff to the left, cut back against the grain and stiff-armed his way around the right side to rumble 43 yards to the 50.
Romo then showed a little of that old magic. First he threw a 31-yard pass to Bryant on the right sideline, then three plays later, the quarterback spun away from a blitzing safety before launching a perfect throw to Bryant in the back of the end zone for the score and a 14-6 advantage at the half.
Despite the Cowboys owning the lead, the defense was doing little to stop the home team, meaning the offense would have to keep pace over the final 30 minutes of the game for Dallas to have any chance of getting the win.
But similar to last week’s loss against the Packers, the offense came out after the break and struggled. On their first possession of the third quarter, fullback Tyler Clutts took a short pass from Romo only to fumble, cornerback Josh Wilson recovering at the Dallas 33. That turnover led to an 8-yard pass to Garcon, who ran in untouched to close the gap to just one point, 14-13.
It didn’t take long for the Redskins to then take the lead after yet another Dallas turnover. On the Cowboys next possession, Romo threw an ill-advised pass to Bryant, who also slipped on his curl route, DeAngelo Hall there to get the easy interception and set his team up at the Dallas 47.
With the Dallas defense showing signs of wearing down, Morris took the handoff five times for 28 yards, the final carry a four-yard charge up the middle for the score and a 20-13 advantage.
Make that three straight series Washington put points on the board. With Romo and Co. still unable to do much of anything offensively, the Cowboys punted the ball away to their hosts, who then marched back to the Dallas 34-yard line, thanks in part to a crucial late hit penalty on safety J.J. Wilcox. That resulted in a 47-yard field goal for Washington on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Having gone away from the run in the third frame, in part because of the turnovers, the Cowboys went back to a more balanced attack on their next possession. Starting at their own 20, the offense worked all the way down to the Washington 7-yard line, converting a fourth-and-6 when Romo found Cole Beasley for a 20-yard strike. And although they couldn’t get in the end zone, Dan Bailey hit the chip-shot field goal, the Cowboys narrowing the score to 23-17 while also eating up 8:47 of clock.
And then the defense did something they hadn’t done since Thanksgiving – got a second-half stop. Forcing the Redskins to punt, Orlando Scandrick breaking up a pass to Garcon over the middle on third down, the Cowboys took over possession at their own 13-yard line after the punt with 3:39 remaining on the clock.
Romo then proceeded to move his offense down the field, hitting Williams on a sideline pass for 15 yards, then rolling out to his right and finding Williams again, this time behind the defense for a huge 51-yard connection. Another 17-yard pass to Bryant then set the Cowboys up with first-and-goal at the 4-yard line with 2:16 left.
After Murray picked up three yards to the 1-yard line on first down, he got stuffed for no gain on the second snap. Then on third down, Murray tried to reverse field, only to lose nine yards, setting up a crucial fourth-and-goal at the 10.
Dropping back to pass, Romo at first was unable to find an open receiver, but slipping out of the pocket, he then dumped off to Murray on the right side, who turned and dove to the end zone for the score. With the extra point, Dallas had regained the lead, 24-23.
The Redskins had one more shot, but on fourth-and-6 with 45 seconds left, Cousins pass fell incomplete, the Cowboys’ comeback complete.
With the win, the Cowboys improved their record for the season to 8-7, including a 5-0 mark in the division, and will now play for the NFC East title next week against the Eagles, who face Chicago on Sunday night.
It’s coming down to the wire. The fate of the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys season will be determined in the next four weeks. Will the ‘boys take it to the next level or will another NFC East team step up? As of today, the Dallas Cowboys must face the Chicago Bears on the road, the Green Bay Packers at home, the Washington Redskins on their turf, and close out by hosting the 7-5 Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. The Dallas Cowboys have a shot to take the division. Do you think they will? If not, then who?
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AROUND THE NFC EAST: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles set up for a December to remember
The Dallas Cowboys sat alone atop the NFC East for three days, but it wasn’t meant to last.
Although it’s true the Cowboys still own the tiebreaker against Philadelphia, it’s fair to say Dallas was hoping for a little help from the Arizona Cardinals, who traveled to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday afternoon.
It didn’t happen, as the Eagles outlasted the Cardinals, 24-21, to improve to 7-5 and tie the division standings heading into the final month of the season.
You could argue that late penalties negated a crucial interception from Nick Foles, or point out that another flag allowed Philadelphia to run the clock out when they seemed poised to have to give the ball back to Arizona.
It’s immaterial at this point. Foles played another fantastic game, and the Eagles are once again breathing down the Cowboys’ necks.
The idea of a Week 17 meeting between Philadelphia and Dallas for the division championship is starting to materialize.
Each team has three games remaining before that point, but it’s pretty easy to imagine both squads sitting on seven or eight wins when the Eagles come to AT&T Stadium on Dec. 29.
The interesting notion, at this point, is the improving prospects of the NFC East. The Giants and Redskins are in trouble, yes. New York rallied from a 14-0 deficit Sunday night to defeat Washington, 24-17.
The loss drops the Redskins from 2012 division champions to 3-9 in 2013 and a non-factor in the playoff race. The Giants are still alive with a 5-7 mark, but to say they’ll need some help is generous.
But even if it’s a two-team race after Week 13, the NFC East doesn’t seem like the laughing stock it was in September and October. Dallas wins the tiebreaker with the Eagles based on head-to-head record, but Philadelphia sits just outside the NFC’s second wildcard spot.
At this point, we’re a San Francisco loss and an Eagles win from having both Philadelphia and Dallas in the playoffs. As long as Chip Kelly’s crew keeps winning, they’ll be a factor in both the division and wild card race.
Of course, there’s still a long way to go. Philadelphia hosts NFC North leader Detroit next weekend, and the Cowboys travel to play 6-6 Chicago in the cold.
But even if it’s a two-team race, the NFC East looks much more interesting than it did just a month ago.
As Dallas rests and recuperates during its bye week, they run the risk of falling out of first place without even playing a game. If the Philadelphia Eagles come out of this weekend’s division game against Washington Redskins with a win, they’ll sit on top of the NFC East at 6-5.
That’s not exactly a doomsday scenario. Philly has yet to take its own bye week, and Dallas still has three full division games to play to re-position itself in the standings. But it puts the Cowboys in an uncomfortable situation, as not only will they lose possession of first for the first time this season, but they’ll do so ahead of a critical division road trip to New York.
Adversity hasn’t always been bad for the Dallas Cowboys this season, though. The last time the NFC East lead was up for grabs, the Cowboys went up to Philadelphia in Week 7 and clobbered the Eagles, 17-3. Perhaps the pressure of a rival team breathing down their necks, they’d respond with a similar performance against the Giants.
Still, the smart play is to root for a Washington win Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. A Redskins win would put both teams just behind the Cowboys, but it would also give both teams two losses within the division, which is a tremendous boost for Dallas at 3-0 in division games.
The smart money is that this’ll be an entertaining game. The last time these two met, way back on Sept. 9, they combined for 825 yards of offense and 60 points. The Eagles raced out to a 33-7 lead thanks largely to 184 rushing yards from LeSean McCoy, but the Redskins rallied to lose by just six.
Not much has changed. Philly is tallying 413 yards per game, and Washington is right behind them at 410 yards per game. Meanwhile, thanks to some bad pass defense, Washington’s defense ranks 27th in the league, while Philadelphia is just one spot above Dallas at No. 31 overall.
Ultimately, it comes down to mistakes. The margin between the two isn’t big when it comes to turnover differential, but Nick Foles has yet to throw an interception in 136 attempts this season. Robert Griffin III, however, has almost doubled his interception total from last season and has only avoided throwing a pick in two games.
A Washington win is the preferable scenario.
Just up the road in New Jersey, the Giants have the potential to climb even closer to second place – depending on the result of the Philadelphia game. They’ll have the benefit of going for their fourth-straight win against an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay team.
It looks like Scott Tolzien is going to get his second start for the Packers, despite the re-signing of Matt Flynn to the roster earlier this week. Tolzien was impressive, though far from perfect in his start against Philadelphia last week.
He’ll need to be better in MetLife Stadium, as the Giants boast the league’s 10th best pass defense. New York’s effort against the run isn’t bad either, at just 3.7 yards per attempt. Between Tolzien and rookie sensation Eddie Lacy, someone is going to have to star if Green Bay is to get a road win.
So there are two very real possible outcomes for Sunday’s games, both played while the Cowboys sit out of the action. The Eagles could be on top of the standings by Sunday night. Equally as likely is that at least two, if not all three division foes could have sixes losses – putting them just one game behind Dallas – by the end of Week 11.
Pick your poison.
This is going to sound a lot like whining, but it’s really just an interesting observation.
A couple of days removed from his injury on Monday Night Football, we’re now aware Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a broken clavicle. The Packers’ signal-caller is slated to miss at least three or so weeks, but he is expected back before the end of the season.
By a twist of fate, that simple fact is likely going to affect the NFC East championship race in a very direct manner. The NFC North drew the NFC East on the schedule this season, which pits the Packers against all four East squads.
Rodgers and Co. have only played one team from the division to this point, however. The Packers crushed the Redskins, 38-20, in Week 2 of the season. But the other three matchups against the NFC East are slated for later in the season.
And now it brings us to this point. The Packers’ next two games, with Rodgers sidelined, are a home date against Philadelphia this weekend and a road trip to play the Giants on Nov. 17.
Obviously, anything can happen in any NFL matchup – that’s what makes this league so much fun. But you’ve got to admit the prospects of defeating Green Bay with Seneca Wallace running the offense look a lot brighter than if it was one-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers round into view on the Dallas Cowboys’ schedule on Dec. 15, by which point it’s a good bet Rodgers will be coming back to full health, if not back on the field already.
In the same vein, the Bears look likely to have Jay Cutler back for the home stretch – which includes the Cowboys – after Cutler said he planned to play this weekend against Detroit. Cutler went down with a groin injury early in the Bears’ game against the Redskins – a game they lost. But he will be back in the mix for games against the Eagles and Cowboys.
It’s the NFL. So counting games ahead of the schedule is an exercise in futility. Green Bay is still probably a good enough team to beat Philadelphia and New York without Rodgers. And with four games on the schedule before the Packers come to town, it’s not worth fretting over matters outside the Cowboys’ next opponent.
But it’s certainly not a twist that looks likely to benefit the Cowboys.
NFC BEAST OF THE EAST: Review of the Dallas Cowboys division at the halfway point in the 2013-2014 NFL season (Special Feature)
The focus of this article is on the NFC East as a whole. Outside of the enormous popularity of the Dallas Cowboys, the division features some pretty prominent, popular franchises in their own right – and there’s the undeniable truth that all three are in the way of a Dallas Cowboys playoff berth.
NFC East: Analyzing The Importance Of November
It’s not October anymore. When the ball kicks off this Sunday for our three fair NFC East contestants, we’ll be into the second half of the season. The temperatures are starting to drop, and the games that determine the playoff picture are about to begin.
With that in mind, lets take a look at a stat that Dallas Cowboys fans should be well-familiar with by now, considering it’s one of Tony Romo’s most impressive numbers. As it’s been documented, since he took over starting duties for the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 29, 2006, Romo has a staggering 21-4 record in the month of November.
That’s a statistic the Cowboys would desperately love to keep in line with. Dallas has four games sandwiched around a bye week this month – Minnesota tomorrow, at New Orleans in a week, at New York after the bye and home for Thanksgiving against Oakland.
That’s a combined record of 12-17, with the Saints comprising 50 percent of that win total. Take the current NFC No. 2 seed out of the equation, and the other three opponents are just 6-16. With outdoor road trips to Chicago and Washington, not to mention a home date against Green Bay, looming in December, a winning mark in November would be huge for Romo and Co.
It’s even more important when you look at the upcoming slates for the rest of the division.
The Redskins, captained by Robert Griffin III, actually begin their six-game win streak and eventual march to the playoffs in November last year. They’re going to need him to improve on his 2-1 November mark to remain in the hunt, as they host the white-hot Philip Rivers this weekend before making back-to-back road trips to Minnesota and Philly, and then finishing the month off with a Monday night game against San Francisco.
Philadelphia has the last bye week in the league, with the final weekend of November the goal for a much-needed rest. In the meantime, they also have back-to-back road trips, to Oakland and Green Bay, before facing the Redskins at home. Nick Foles is winless in November, with an 0-2 mark. The Eagles would love to have Michael Vick back – though his career November record of 12-12-1 is hardly awe-inspiring.
Expect the upcoming month to sink both Washington and Philadelphia’s playoff hopes. Ironically enough, however, this 11th month of the year just may give a fighting chance to the once-buried Giants.
The much-needed bye week falls on the Giants this weekend. After a reprieve and a chance to get some guys healthy, they don’t have to leave the confines of MetLife Stadium until Dec. 1. During the three-game homestand, they’ll host the Raiders, Packers and Cowboys.
Despite the Giants’ run of postseason success, Eli Manning’s November record sits at just 13-19. In fact, New York is just 2-6 in November since 2011.
Does any of that mean anything? It’s hard to say for sure. It’s hard for some to take Romo’s winning ways in November too seriously when he hasn’t guided a team to the playoffs since 2009.
We didn’t decide much in this division in the first eight weeks – other than the fact that there isn’t a dominant team among the four.
Whoever manages the best over the next four or five weeks may find themselves in an enviable position when December starts.
NFC East: Burning Questions At The Halfway Point
Can we just chuck the first half of the season out the window? Is there a fan base in the NFC East that would really mind?
The array of mediocre traverses the entire spectrum among the NFL’s most volatile division. This is a group that’s had four different champions in the past four years, and it’s certainly playing up that moniker of parity.
Division leader Dallas has four wins – just two games ahead of cellar-dweller New York at the halfway point of the season. What’s the worst predicament?
Cowboys fans will tell you they should probably be 6-2, but you could make an easy argument the team has come painstakingly close to winning all eight games – refer yourself to the total margin of defeat of 14 points.
The Giants, continual contenders in the NFC with two Super Bowls in the last six seasons, plummeted to an 0-6 start – their worst such start to a season in 37 years. The division’s middling middle, Philadelphia and Washington, will go the way of their dynamic but injury-riddled quarterbacks.
It has all combined to give the NFC East the worst win total among the NFL’s eight divisions – 11-20. That’s one win more than the AFC South, which boasts a 10-19 mark thanks to hapless Jacksonville, but it’s also one more loss.
Go figure, the league’s western half – the AFC and NFC West, which boast four of the best teams in football in Denver, Kansas City, San Francisco and Seattle – are running away with collective records of 22-8 and 20-12, respectively.
In those divisions, and in several others, things are beginning to settle. We have a good idea of what’s going to happen in four or five of the league’s divisions.
But that’s not so in the NFC East, where the first half of the season hasn’t determined much other than that all four teams are equally flawed.
So what storylines are going to dictate the stretch run and the eventual division champion?
Dallas Cowboys: How well can they weather the injuries?
It sounds like a copout, because there’s a lot to be said about the shakiness of the Dallas offense, not to mention late-game decisions in all four Cowboys losses.
But as of Monday, they have lost starting right guard Brian Waters, likely for the year. Starting cornerback Morris Claiborne is also out for at least a handful of games with a bad hamstring. Starting safety Barry Church may also be iffy with a hamstring.
Don’t forget to factor those injuries in with the prior ones suffered by starters DeMarco Murray, DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin and J.J. Wilcox. All four players are expected back soon, but as of yet, we don’t know for sure when that will happen.
Don’t count on many teams stringing together wins with as many as six or seven starters missing from the lineup. The Dallas Cowboys need the bye week to get here, and quickly.
Philadelphia Eagles: What is Michael Vick’s status for the last eight games?
Michael Vick tried to give it a go on his injured hamstring last week against New York. It didn’t work out quite as well as he’d hoped – he completed 6-of-9 passes for 30 yards and a pick before exiting prior to halftime.
It doesn’t look likely he’ll be ready for this weekend’s trip to Oakland, and that’s a problem for the Philadelphia offense. Yes, the Eagles romped over winless Tampa Bay with Nick Foles at the helm. But it’s becoming increasingly more evident that as Vick goes, so goes the Philly attack.
In the four full games that Vick played before injuring the hamstring in the first game against the Giants, the Philadelphia offense was averaging 458 yards per game. In the three games since the injury, the average has plummeted to 300 yards per game.
Yes, the Eagles’ defense is atrocious, and it has cost them opportunities at a better record. But Chip Kelly’s offense has not hummed without his starting quarterback behind center. With a bad defense, they’ll need a strong offense to earn wins.
They need Vick.
Washington Redskins: Can RG3 rediscover his mojo?
It’s a pretty similar situation in D.C. as it is in Philly. The Redskins are an average team with a bad defense. They need a strong performance from their leader and pace-setter of a quarterback if they’re going to match last season’s division championship.
It seemed like Griffin had turned a corner after a slow start to 2013. He threw for a combined 544 yards in Weeks 6 and 7, and he led the Redskins to a last-minute victory against Chicago.
More notably in that, he rushed for a combined 181 yards in those two games after totaling just 72 yards on the ground in the first month of the season. He was beginning to look comfortable using both of his skillsets.
That all derailed in Sunday’s blowout loss to Denver. Griffin managed just seven rushing yards on five attempts, and he completed 50 percent of his passes for just 132 yards. He left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent knee injury, though he has since been declared OK.
The fact of the matter is that Griffin is slumping across the board in his sophomore season. His completion percentage after seven games is at just 59 percent. He’s actually on pace to throw for 1,000 more yards than his 3,200 yards last season, but he already has eight interceptions in seven games, where he threw just five picks his entire rookie campaign.
The running issues are well-documented. Griffin is averaging roughly 34 yards on the ground to this point, and he hasn’t found the end zone as a runner yet.
These are the pressures that go with being a No. 2 pick. The Redskins need to win at least six of the last nine games, and they won’t do it unless Griffin’s play improves.
New York Giants: Can the lines continue to improve?
Sunday’s win against Philadelphia was not pretty, but it saw two significant improvements for the New York Giants.
Firstly, the offensive line won the day. The Giants weren’t great running the ball, with just 88 total yards, but they outrushed an Eagles rushing attack that has been tops in the league for most of the year. It also gave Eli Manning time to the make decisions, which allowed him to put together his second-straight interception-free game.
The Giants are 2-0 in games where Manning hasn’t thrown a pick. In their previous six, all losses, he threw 15 balls to the other team.
Secondly, the Giants’ defense managed four sacks against the Eagles after notching six combined sacks in the seven previous games. It’s a long way to go before anyone believes New York has re-discovered its pass rushing reputation, but it’s a start.
No team has ever started 0-6 and reached the playoffs. But in this division, the Giants now just sit two games out of first. If they can keep people away from their quarterback, and keep finding ways to reach opposing quarterbacks, they have a chance.
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RIVAL POSTGAME LOWLIGHTS: Philadelphia Eagles local coverage following loss to America’s Team (New Feature)
Philadelphia Eagles offense reflects on performance (2:17)
Week 7 – Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles Highlights (3:56)
The Eagles fell to the Dallas Cowboys, 17-3 (Watch Video | No Audio)
Postgame Press Conference – Eagles head coach Chip Kelly (9:16)
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Photo: The Cowboys’ Terrance Williams dives in for a touchdown as Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher defends on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Opportunities to take first place in the NFC East and for Nick Foles to push to become the Eagles’ starting quarterback were both spoiled in a 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles’ offense struggled in the team’s ninth consecutive loss at Lincoln Financial Field, and Foles appeared overmatched before leaving the game with a head injury at the end of the third quarter. Matt Barkley replaced Foles and proceeded to throw three interceptions.
Foles started in place of Michael Vick, who missed his second consecutive game with a pulled left hamstring. Vick never looked so good as he did when compared to the performances of Foles and Barkley.
One week after Foles starred in a win over the Buccaneers, Foles went 11 of 29 for 80 yards. Barkley finished 11 of 20 for 129 yards and three interceptions.
The running game did not help, either. LeSean McCoy was limited to 55 rushing yards. DeSean Jackson was held to three catches for 21 yards, shut down most the game by Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr and the ineffectiveness of the Eagles’ quarterbacks.
The offense’s issues overshadowed a relatively impressive game from the defense. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 317 yards and one touchdown. He also had two interceptions. But most of his damage came in the second half, and the Eagles’ defense kept the team in contention.
The first quarter served as an insult to offensive football. Neither team could find the end zone, and there were six combined punts.
It didn’t get much better in the second quarter. There were seven more punts in that period, with the only score a 38-yard field goal by Dan Bailey as Dallas took a 3-0 lead.
The Eagles drove the ball to the Cowboys’ 42-yard line with 20 seconds remaining when Foles tried throwing a deep ball on third-and-1. It was incomplete, and Kelly elected to attempt a 60-yard field goal instead of going for fourth down. The Eagles had one timeout at the time. Alex Henery missed the field goal.
The Cowboys opened the second half by going 66 yards on 10 plays to take a 10-0 lead. On third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, cornerback Bradley Fletcher wrapped up Dez Bryant and was flagged for the pass interference to give the Cowboys a new set of downs. They scored on a 1-yard rush one play later.
The Eagles could not gain any momentum until late in the quarter, when DeMeco Ryans intercepted Tony Romo’s pass at the Eagles’ 34-yard and returned it 36 yards to the Cowboys 30. But Foles struggled throughout the drive, underthrowing a wide-open Jason Avant in the end zone and struggling to make decisions. On third-and-goal from the 9-yard line, Foles was sacked and the back of his head was knocked against the turf.
Foles was examined on the sideline and tried jogging around before he was taken to the locker room and declared out for the game. That’s when Barkley entered the game, and the struggles only continued.
Following a Cowboys touchdown drive to take a 17-3 lead, Barkley threw an interception. On the next drive, he threw another interception. He added his third interception late in the fourth quarter to ensure the Eagles would not score a touchdown.
The health status for Vick and Foles is unknown for next week’s game against the Giants.
Courtesy: Zach Berman | Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
Photo: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive end George Selvie as defensive tackle Jason Hatcher helps on the play. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
The Eagles’ quarterback controversy has turned into a quarterback conflagration. This, on the afternoon when Michael Vick could not play because of a pulled hamstring; Nick Foles could not play, period (and left the game at the end of the third quarter with a head injury, besides), and Matt Barkley finished up the game by throwing three interceptions that counted and another that did not (because of a penalty).
Other than that, things went well.
The Dallas Cowboys played like garbage for much of the afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field and still beat the Eagles, 17-3, which pretty much tells you how the Eagles played. A decent defensive effort against Tony Romo and the fellas was completely wasted by an offense that was neutered by the Dallas Cowboys and by Foles’ ineffectiveness.
Before he suffered the injury, which could conceivably keep him out for next week’s game against the Giants, Foles was indecisive and erratic. On a day when many believed he had a chance to win the starting quarterback job, he played his worst minutes of the season, going back to training camp. The numbers: 11-for-29 for 80 yards and a poor 46.2 passer rating.
Slow on the trigger, missing open receivers — it was Foles’ worst nightmare. This was a clear opportunity for him to make a statement, and the statement he made was an emphatic, “Not yet.”
Others will say that it was, “Not ever.”
Now we prepare for a week in which the injury report will be the most important news. Last week, Vick sounded a bit skeptical about being ready to play next Sunday against the Giants. We will see now how the imperatives of the situation affect the healing process. More than that, though, the conversation about who should be the quarterback when Vick gets healthy has been silenced.
The truth was, Foles had an opportunity against an iffy Dallas secondary — but he needed to grab it. A lot of people, including me, figured it was going to take a big number to beat the Cowboys — but the way the game turned out, as an early punt-fest, ended that thinking. Instead, it was just going to take a good second half. For Foles, the opportunity was still there, even as he struggled. There was risk but there also was reward if he came through.
He did not come through, and he got hurt besides. He held the ball forever on the last play of the third quarter, was sacked and driven into the ground. He got up slowly, tried to shake it off on the sideline, but was eventually led to the locker room by the medical staff. That is how it ended, with a slow, sad walk.
And now, besides the ending of the quarterback controversy, there also will be a pretty significant burial of the talk about winning the NFC East. Because the truth is, the Cowboys did not play very well and still won the game handily. The Cowboys are 4-3 now and the Eagles are 3-4, but the distance somehow seems greater than that.
Courtesy: Rich Hofmann | Philadelphia Daily News
COWBOYS EAGLES GUT-CHECK: Dallas writers review predictions made prior to NFC East division showdown
First Take presented by Nationwide (3:33)
PHILADELPHIA – Beat writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman, and Rowan Kavner share their initial feelings of the Dallas Cowboys’ 17-3 win at Lincoln Financial Field.
Chalk this up as my most inaccurate prediction of the season — though I doubt anyone is complaining. Simply put, I just did not see that defensive performance coming. The Cowboys completely stifled one of the league’s best offenses and the league’s most dynamic players in LeSean McCoy. It was a sometimes ugly but ultimately satisfying win. The Dallas offense wasn’t always pretty, but their receivers stepped up to make enough good plays to seal the win. Even more important — this team is undefeated through half of the division slate.
For the second straight week, it was not at all the shootout everyone expected. I thought Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy would be much more infallible than they were Sunday. Credit that to heavy pressure from Jason Hatcher and George Selvie, as well as tremendous coverage on the back end. I was on track with Terrance Williams scoring a touchdown for the third straight game and Dez Bryant going off, but was off on the Joseph Randle prediction. Phillip Tanner got it instead. Williams and Cole Beasley continue to offer more than anyone could have imagined. The way the Cowboys’ defense was playing, Tony Romo and his offensive threats didn’t need to do too much. In addition, Dan Bailey wasn’t needed for any late heroics I thought the Cowboys would have to have.
I was about as wrong as one person could be on this one. It wasn’t high-scoring, the defense did play, they did stop LeSean McCoy and Miles Austin was no factor. It doesn’t matter what the opposition did, this is a big win for Dallas. To get to 3-0 in the NFC East having beaten every team in the division now, is a big confidence boost for a team that figured out how to win without their best defensive player and starting tailback. Wasn’t pretty but yet they still found a way to beat Philly on the road.
The stats will not say that he had a monster game but for having to fill the shoes of a monster player in DeMarcus ware, Kyle Wilber did all right. Wilber battled Jason Peters all game long which I had a feeling he would do. Where Wilber was giving up size and weight, he was able to hang in there against this dynamic rushing attack of the Eagles. He got pressure off the edge against Nick Foles and later Matt Barkley. Wilber and his defensive line mates, were outstanding in getting off blocks and rallying to the ball but more importantly, they were able to tackle and prevent the Eagles from pulling off any huge plays. That was the difference in the game today.
This article is related to the following post:
This was Cowboys-Eagles, right? Two of the NFL’s most high-powered offenses against two of the worst defenses in the league? Chip Kelly’s quick pace against Tony Romo’s aerial attack? Air it out, throw it around, go, go, go?
So much for that.
In a game that was far from the high-octane shootout most expected, Dallas came out on top, 17-3, and in the process, improved its record to 4-3 and took sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
The Cowboys came into this affair ranked second in the NFL in points per game (30.5) and 13th in yards per outing (349.8). Likewise, the Eagles owned the fourth-highest average in points (27.7) and were third in yards (499.8).
On the defensive side of the ball, Dallas had surrendered an average of 25.3 points per game, which was 21st in the NFL, its 413.2 yards given up per contest, ranking 30th. For their part, the Eagles defense ranked dead last in yards per game (420.2) and 29th in points (29.8).
All the makings for video-game-type numbers.
Except the Dallas defense, was stellar. With DeMarcus Ware sidelined with an injury, the defensive line held its own, providing continuous pressure and helping limit the Eagles to only 278 total yards of offense. Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles was just 11 of 29 with 80 yards passing, while running back LeSean McCoy was held to 55 yards on 18 carries.
Meanwhile, although the Cowboys struggled themselves to move the ball in the first half, punter Chris Jones keeping plenty busy, in the second half, they did seem to make some adjustments. Spreading the offense out allowed for more movement, and in the end, Dallas finished with 368 total yards.
Making his 100th career start, Tony Romo, who aired it out more as the game went along, posted 317 passing yards and a touchdown. With his performance, he now has more completions and more passing yards than any quarterback in history through his first 100 starts.
The primary beneficiary of all that throwing was Dez Bryant, who surpassed the century mark with 110 yards receiving on a game-high eight catches. The rookie Terrance Williams continued to shine as well, catching a touchdown for the third straight game and finishing with 71 yards on six grabs.
Fellow rookie Joseph Randle, making his first career start, was steady in place of the injured DeMarco Murray, earning 93 yards from scrimmage off 19 carries and three receptions.
Still, it wasn’t a pretty beginning. In fact, midway through the second quarter, the two teams had combined for more punts (11) than first downs (10). And, the only points in the first half came late in the second frame, when Dallas started on its own 36-yard line, and finally worked deep into enemy territory, reaching the Philly 20. Romo had connections of 14, 15 and10 yards to Cole Beasley, Bryant and Williams, respectively, but once the drive stalled, Dan Bailey came out for a 38-yard field, splitting the uprights for three.
On their next possession, the Eagles tried to even things up, crossing midfield to the Cowboys 42. But on fourth-and-1 with 14 seconds left, Philadelphia curiously elected to try a 60-yard field goal rather than go for it and Alex Henery’s attempt, while long enough, sailed wide left.
But after picking up the field goal before the break, the Cowboys gained more momentum as the second half got underway. Things got started when Dwayne Harris brought the ball out of his own end zone and returned it to the Dallas 34-yard line.
From there, Romo kept the offense spread out, and kept Bryant active, as he hit the receiver on passes of 12, 11 and 19 yards during the drive, the last getting the Cowboys down to the Philly 2-yard line. And while Dallas seemed destined for another field goal when a third down pass attempt to Bryant fell incomplete in the end zone, a pass interference call on the Eagles gave the visitors a first down at the 2.
On the very next snap, Phillip Tanner then barreled into the end zone, Dallas jumping out to a 10-0 lead.
The Eagles tried to make a game of it, and after Romo was picked off by linebacker DeMeco Ryans, returning it to the Dallas 30, seemed to be in prime position to narrow the gap. But from there, Philadelphia could muster only 17 more yards and had to settle for a 31-yard field goal as the clock ticked into the fourth quarter, the score 10-3.
But any thoughts of a comeback were quickly squashed by the Cowboys, as Romo marched his team 72 yards in 10 plays. The quarterback efficiently spread the ball around, connecting on passes to Bryant, Randle, Jason Witten and Beasley, capping the drive off with a slant to Williams from nine yards out to up Dallas’ advantage to 17-3.
With Foles leaving the game with concussion symptoms, rookie Matt Barkley made his NFL debut at quarterback, and didn’t fare much better for the Eagles, throwing an interception to Sean Lee on his first possession, and then another one to Barry Church on his second.
On his third drive, the youngster had the Eagles on the doorstep, reaching the Dallas 12-yard line, but with just over a minute left on the clock, cornerback Brandon Carr pulled down yet another interception in the end zone, Romo simply having to take two knees to run out the clock.
With the victory, the Cowboys captured their first road win of the 2013 season, and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC East. They’ll next head to Detroit to take on the Lions, who are also 4-3 after losing today to the Bengals.
Dallas Cowboys Postgame Show
Dallas Cowboys Radio Network
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SIMPLIFIED STATS FOR PHILLY FANS: Pictures (and fun facts) for our rival Philadelphia Eagles followers
We wanted to post something easy to understand for the Philadelphia Eagles fans that visit this website. You know the old adage … “a picture is worth a 1000 words”. So, here we go …
Eagles fans, please focus your attention to the photo above, and note … historically, the Dallas Cowboys OWN YOU!
Now, this next one is tricky! Pay attention. Philly averages more yards … but, Dallas scores more points. This will be KEY to the OUTCOME of the game!!! Also note, your team (Philly) allows more yards and more points defensively that the Dallas Cowboys! Again, this is BIG! On a positive note, due to the Cowboys domination of ‘time of possession’, your team will have more time on the sidelines to enjoy cheesesteak, hoagies, soft pretzels, and whatever the hell a Tastykake is!
Ok, welcome back from your nap. I know this has been hard on you! Please stay focused. There are a LOT of numbers above, so lets run through this as quickly as possible. Tony Romo is better than both of your quarterbacks combined! Your running backs have great numbers, because other teams have allowed them to run. Expect this to change on Sunday (that’s tomorrow, after you wake up from your BIG NAP). Your team does an OK job of receiving the ball and making plays. If you had a defense to stop Dallas’ receivers you’d have a shot. Won’t happen. Try to prepare yourself, mentally.
Now, let’s wrap this up. Tony Romo will have his 100th start against your team on Sunday afternoon. Please note, there are NO Philly quarterbacks on these stats (above). Also note, there are no other NFC East quarterbacks on this picture above. I know what you’re thinking … It’s hard to soar like an Eagle when you’re playing with a bunch of turkeys! By the way, it will be 73 and sunny in Big D tomorrow. Enjoy the game (pregame warm-ups).
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are back to .500 and look to take the division lead in the NFC East. Both the Cowboys and Eagles are 3-3 and have lost to the same three AFC opponents. Both are 2-0 in the division. While it’s still early in the race, Sunday’s game will be a big boost for one team.
Here are the gut feelings writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
I keep predicting the Cowboys are going to take advantage of bad secondaries. I said it before the Chargers game, I said it before the Redskins game, and neither prediction came to fruition. But I don’t think they’re going to have a choice this week. We haven’t seen the Cowboys get behind the eight ball too much this season – they’ve had the lead at halftime in five of their six games. But similar to the Denver game, I don’t see Dallas having a lot of success stopping LeSean McCoy and the Philly offense. I think the Eagles take a four-point lead into the break, and I think whoever has the ball last will win a high-scoring second half. My head tells me Dallas is the better team, but my gut feeling is that the Eagles find a way to win.
Gut Feeling: So here we are, back at .500, against an Eagles team that hasn’t won at home this year or in their last eight home contests. These are actually two very evenly matched teams. Philadelphia boasts the best running back in the league this year, a guy that will give the Cowboys problems on the ground and through the air. The latter area is where he will be really dangerous. I think this is more of a shootout than last week. Dez Bryant’s had some words exchanged before with Cary Williams, and I think this is going to be a huge week for the Cowboys’ top wide out. I also think the Cowboys’ Williams, Terrance, makes it three straight games with a touchdown, and Joseph Randle finds the end zone again. In the end, Dan Bailey comes up huge late to put the Cowboys in first place.
Like most of these games, I go back and forth on this one because I see scenarios where the Cowboys will get out to a nice lead because the Eagles will have a hard time stopping this offense. I also think the Cowboys will have a very hard time with LeSean McCoy and Philly’s attack, especially if DeMarcus Ware doesn’t play. I know it’s been a full calendar year since Philly won at home, but something about playing up there is still scary for this Cowboys team, even though they’ve proven they can win there. I don’t see it happening this time. I see Philly outscoring the Cowboys in a game where 31 points won’t be enough to win. For the Cowboys, I see a big game for Miles Austin – over 100 yards with a touchdown. But I see Riley Cooper continuing his hot streak against the Cowboys, too.
There were a couple of different ways I wanted to go here because I feel strongly about Joseph Randle playing well, but I will take the path of Kyle Wilber making his first NFL start against Jason Peters. This Cowboys front is going to need a pressure player in this matchup without DeMarcus Ware in the lineup. Jason Hatcher will see his share of double teams so someone will need to win a battle or two one-on-one. My sources told me that Wilber had a nice week of practice and looked very quick off the ball. My gut tells me, he does provide that pressure and at the end of this game, we are talking about how well he played.
Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles road game (6:29)
- Offensive success at home this season vs. road games
- Resting Miles Austin from practice past two days
- Practice and preparation for new Philadelphia Eagles offensive pace
- Eagles sub or keep starters in during offensive drives
- Countering substitutions during fast tempo
- Scouting Oregon-Eagles types of offense
- Game planning McCoy in their new system
- Holloman neck injury | status
- DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware gameday decisions
- Latitude given to veteran players regarding injuries and starting
- Learning from Barry Church flagged hits and related penalties
Murray & Ware give injury updates; Don’t rule them out (1:55)