Justin Boylan

Justin Boylan...Game 16 Eagles embarrassed by Dallas ... 24-0 1-5-10

I'm going to keep this short (or as short as possible) since we have to do this all over again in less than a week. The biggest question following Sunday's Eagles-Cowboys game is simple, what happened? It's a good one. Maybe it's karma, a year ago the Cowboys were in Lincoln Financial Field and the Eagles put a beat down on them 44-6, keeping the Cowboys from the playoffs. We all remember that one, boy was that great? So maybe we had this coming. This season Dallas came to town and beat us, not anything like 44-6, but they left Philadelphia with a win. Week 17 was simple, win and the Eagles are the 2-seed, first round bye and home playoff games. Lose, however, and the Eagles will have to enter the playoffs as the final 6-seed (like last year, they would have to win three road playoff games just to get to the Super Bowl, I prefer Option A but that makes too much sense). Yesterday in Dallas (and it pains me to type this, I have to force my fingers to hit the letters), the Cowboys showed up and the Eagles didn't.

Dallas took control of the game from the opening kickoff. Tony Romo took his offense down the field with ease, ending an 80-yard drive with a touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten. The Eagles responded by going 3-and-out, and that's how the rest of the game went (Eagles struggle in bad field position and Dallas has a field day). The Cowboys move the ball into the red zone on their second possession, and the only thing that prevented a 14-0 hole after the first quarter is a tipped ball and interception by the Philly defense.

I wish I could say the Eagles turned things around in the second quarter (I wish I could say that about any quarter) but it would be untrue. The Eagles stumble and punt, while the Cowboys go on a 90-yard touchdown drive that culminates in a 14-yard pass to a wide open Patrick Crayton (okay, now its 14-0). The Eagles finally put a little something together; Donovan McNabb hits Jeremy Maclin for 31 yards, then two plays later, DeSean Jackson for 32 yards. However, first down from the Dallas 14-yard line comes to a halting stop when McNabb can't handle the snap, giving the ball back to the Cowboys.

17-0 at halftime, the Eagles lose again to the Cowboys. (Oh wait, there's a second half. Let's not go down that road, believe me, it gets worse.)

The Eagles six game winning streak (that we all were so excited about) was due in large part to the explosive offense. The Eagles didn't score less than 24 points in any of those six games, and the defense was giving up an average of just under 22 points. The defense wasn't losing the Eagles games, because the offense won them. In the first game of 2010, it was a losing effort, all around.

The easiest way to rattle the Cowboys offense is to rattle Tony Romo (do people not know this?). For the ENTIRE first half the Eagles defense sat back as Dallas did whatever they wanted offensively. They had two running backs and two receivers that recorded just less than 100 yards on the day (Marion Barber and Felix Jones both had 91 rushing yards, Crayton had 99 receiving yards and Miles Austin had 90). Not to mention the six catches for 76 yards from Witten . The Eagles refused to bring pressure in the first half, so what happens? Romo sits back and picks the defense apart. With nine minutes left in the fourth quarter the Eagles finally get a sack on Romo, then they knock him down again, so what happens? Dallas has to punt; Romo is holding a sore back and probably wants to cry. Which result sounds better? If you can get to Romo, you can stop the Cowboys. Instead the Eagles tried to sit back and cover (not going to happen), which lead to gashing runs by Barber early and Jones late, and wide open receivers splitting zone coverage. I'm not saying blitz every down, the Eagles know they have to mix things up, they have to play a combination of zone and man defenses. But rushing four on a sure passing down doesn't make a whole lot of sense, especially when the play goes 40 yards down the sideline.

I don't know how to explain the offensive performance besides saying; it was just one of those games. You know the type, when nothing goes right, one mistake after another, if something can go wrong it will. Week 17 in Dallas was that kind of game. There isn't much to say about an offense that puts up a goose egg. McNabb threw the ball 36 times compared to 10 team rushing attempts (that's the balance we like to see!!). Even when you are down early, you can not abandon the running game. The Eagles did, and the backs were a non-factor. Westbrook had five carries for 17 yards, Leonard Weaver and LeSean McCoy each had one carry. The Eagles have three running backs that proved over the season that they can be effective; they didn't have shot Sunday afternoon. The passing game was just as bad. Brent Celek was the MVP with seven catches for 96 yards, but dropped two passes (what a backhanded compliment for Mr. Celek). The rest of the receivers also dropped a number of passes, that combined with McNabb over and under throwing his targets, and that's a recipe for offensive failure.

Are you ready for the good news? It isn't over. The Eagles get another chance to do this all over again, in the playoffs. They have less than a week to make the necessary adjustments in order to be successful against this Cowboys team. The dreams of the 2-seed are long gone and now the reality has set in. The Eagles have to go back to Dallas and play the Cowboys for a third time. (I just want to say I don't know what I will do if the Eagles lose to the Cowboys three times in one season. It would be devastating. I can see myself pulling a “BROOKS WAS HERE” in my bedroom just so I don't have to face the world, or my roommate.)

If these next ten years are going to be anything like the last ten, it has to start here. The Dallas Cowboys have to be eliminated from the playoffs, and through the fault of their own, the Eagles are going to have to be the team to do it.



Justin Boylan



© Copyright 2008. Jules Pilla

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