Observations: Cowboys 38, Eagles 27
Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ 38-27 loss to the Cowboys.
* On a night when the Eagles needed their offense to keep up with the Cowboys and limit mistakes, it failed to come through. Mark Sanchez went 17-for-28 for 252 yards and two interceptions. Sanchez had Zach Ertz open in the middle of the field with the game still within reach, but he was off-target, and the Cowboys picked it off. Sanchez threw another INT with under two minutes left.
* In the fourth quarter, Brent Celek made a catch over the middle, but fumbled, leading to a Cowboys field goal. The Eagles entered the game leading the league with 30 giveaways and had four more tonight (one on special teams).
* LeSean McCoy was OK, carrying 16 times for 64 yards. Jeremy Maclin was the Eagles’ leading receiver with four catches for 98 yards, including a 72-yard reception that set up a touchdown.
* It took the Eagles’ offense a couple drives to get going. The Birds went three-and-out on each of their first two possessions before they finally got on the board.
* In the second quarter, the Eagles put together an 11-play, 84-yard drive. Sanchez found Celek for a 23-yard completion. McCoy had a 14-yard gain on a counter run. Ertz picked up 15. And Chris Polk scored from 5 yards out, getting good blocks from Evan Mathis and Jason Peters on the play.
* On the Eagles’ next drive, they went 43 yards on 11 plays. But Jordan Matthews had a drop downfield on a play-action pass, and the offense had to settle for a 47-yard Cody Parkey field goal.
* In the third quarter, Maclin caught a pass near the sideline and turned it upfield for a 72-yard gain. The Eagles then lined up McCoy and Darren Sproles in the backfield together. McCoy threw a block on the linebacker, and Sproles scored from 1 yard out.
* Matthews came off the field on the first drive with an apparent injury, but he would return.
* Josh Huff had a nice 44-yard catch and run in the second half.
* Sanchez was sacked four times, including twice on the same drive late in the fourth quarter.
* The Eagles ran six plays in the first quarter, compared to 25 for the Cowboys.
* The Eagles did not turn in one of their better performances on defense, giving up too many big plays and allowing Tony Romo to pick them apart. Romo went 22-for-31 for 265 yards and three touchdowns. He was not intercepted, but did take three sacks, one of which resulted in a fumble.
* The main story line was Dez Bryant vs. Bradley Fletcher. Billy Davis continually put Fletcher on an island against the talented receiver. The result was a three-touchdown game (six catches, 114 yards) for Bryant.
* DeMarco Murray had his moments, but overall was kept in check with 81 yards on 31 carries.
* Special teams got the Eagles off to a horrible start. The Cowboys booted the opening kickoff short, and neither Huff nor Brad Smith was able to field it. Dallas recovered, and its offense took over at the 18. Romo converted a third down, and Murray scored from 1 yard out.
* On another first-half possession, Dallas went 88 yards on 16 plays. Jason Witten had three third-down conversions on the drive (one against Malcolm Jenkins, one on what appeared to be a busted coverage, one against Nate Allen), and Bryant caught a 4-yard fade against Fletcher. Cary Williams was called for an illegal contact penalty on the drive.
* Later in the first half, Williams was called for a big holding penalty on third down, negating a sack. Fletcher then got singled up against Bryant and gave up a 26-yard touchdown down the sideline.
* In the third quarter, Vinny Curry sacked Romo from behind and forced a fumble. The Cowboys offensive linemen didn’t realize the ball was on the ground, and Fletcher Cox recovered.
* Bryant’s third touchdown came on yet another fade – this one for 25 yards against Fletcher down the right sideline.
* The Cowboys now have a one-game lead on the Eagles in the division. For the Eagles to win the NFC East, they need to either go 2-0 and have the Cowboys go 1-1 or go 1-1 and have the Cowboys go 0-2.