Instant Observations: Cowboys 38, Eagles 33

Here are my observations from the Eagles’ 38-33 loss to the Cowboys Sunday night.

OFFENSE

* Bryce Brown‘s performance was similar to last week’s. He picked up 169 yards on 24 carries (7.0 YPC), but had a costly fumble that was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He now has three fumbles in the last two games. Brown had a nice 24-yard carry on the Eagles’ second possession and then found the end zone from 10 yards out for the team’s first score. DeMarcus Ware got caught upfield, and Evan Mathis delivered a nice block on the play. Brown had a 39-yard run on the Eagles’ second scoring drive. He finished that one with a 5-yard scamper up the middle for the TD.

* Nick Foles looked better, completing 22 of 34 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and connected with seven different receivers. Brent Celek had seven catches for 73 yards. Great effort by Celek early on, dragging Cowboys defenders with him on a third-down conversion. Damaris Johnson took a screen 13 yards. Riley Cooper picked up 16 on a slant and later made a great one-handed catch for a 15-yard touchdown against cornerback Brandon Carr.

* The Eagles’ offensive line from left to right: King Dunlap, Mathis, Dallas Reynolds, Jake Scott and Dennis Kelly. This group played one of its better games of the season, and Marty Mornhinweg put together an excellent game plan. The Eagles were balanced and often ran right at DeMarcus Ware or ran play-fakes at the talented pass-rusher to help neutralize him.

* The exception was when the Eagles asked Celek to block Ware one-on-one on the first play of the game, and Ware crushed Foles from his blind side.

* On third down in the red zone in the fourth, Foles forced one to Clay Harbor in the corner of the end zone. It looked like he probably could have run or hit Celek on the play. And on the 2-point conversion attempt, he missed a wide open Brown right in front of him, instead throwing incomplete to Jason Avant.

* Around the 4:51 mark of the fourth quarter is when we got the weekly “Even if Andy Reid is fired, he won’t be unemployed for long…” conversation from the broadcasting team.

* Johnson returned a punt 98 yards for a touchdown with under a minute left, but the Eagles couldn’t recover the onside kick.

DEFENSE

* The Eagles’ pass defense continued to look horrible. Tony Romo completed 22 of 27 passes for 303  yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. In the second half, he went 10-for-10 for 169 yards. The Birds’ run defense wasn’t much better, as the Cowboys, one of the worst rushing teams in the league, picked up 124 yards on the ground.

* Bad night for pretty much every member of the Eagles’ secondary, but let’s start with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. In the fourth quarter, Romo delivered a quick throw to Dez Bryant, and Rodgers-Cromartie looked helpless trying to tackle him as he scored a 6-yard touchdown. Earlier, Rodgers-Cromartie made a poor attempt at Miles Austin on a 27-yard score.

* Brandon Graham started for Jason Babin at left defensive end and beat Doug Free for a sack on third down early on. Graham later hit Romo and helped force an incompletion in the red zone. Graham and Trent Cole combined for a sack on third down to force a Cowboys field goal.

* Romo found Bryant for a 23-yard touchdown in the third. He rolled to his right and bought time before throwing across the field. DeMeco Ryans initially took a bad angle, but then a group of Eagles defenders, including Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman and Akeem Jordan, failed to bring him down. The Eagles safeties played poorly all night long.

* Cullen Jenkins had a chance for a sack in the first, but failed to bring Romo down, and he found a receiver for a first down. In the second quarter, Romo tried to get a play off before Reid could throw a challenge flag. Jenkins first was on the ground with an “apparent” ankle injury, and then, realizing he was supposed to be on the sideline, took off in a full sprint. Reid ended up throwing the flag, and the play was reversed.

* The Eagles’ defense gave up a 65-yard touchdown drive in the second. Romo hit Jason Witten for a 28-yard gain in the red zone to set up the score. The tight end was wide open, as there once again appeared to be confusion between Nnamdi Asomugha and Coleman. Please, stop me if you’ve heard that before.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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