Wake-Up Call: How Sunday Affects the Eagles
Like many of you, I spent most of my Sunday watching NFL games. Although the Eagles don’t kick off their season until tonight, the other three NFC East teams were in action.
Let’s take a look at how the rest of the division fared in their opening games.
Dallas Cowboys 27, New York Giants 26
For much of the night, it appeared as though the Giants would come away with the most unimpressive win of the day. However, they decided to pass the ball on third-and-one with 1:43 left in the game and the lead. Eli Manning threw an incompletion, but because the Cowboys had no timeouts left, the Giants could’ve run the clock down to give Dallas less time for a comeback.
New York ended up making their field goal, butTony Romo led the game-winning 72-yard drive in 1:27. Romo threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten with just seven seconds left as many questioned Tom Coughlin’s decision not to run the ball.
Perhaps the biggest story line from the game, though, at least for Eagles fans, is Dez Bryant’s injury. After the game, Jason Garrett said the star receiver will miss four-to-six weeks after he broke a bone in his right foot. That means he’ll be unavailable when Philadelphia hosts Dallas on Sunday.
The Cowboys outplayed the Giants for most of the game, but three costly Dallas turnovers led to 17 New York points. Soon before the first half ended, Tony Romo completed a pass to Cole Beasley, who fumbled the ball. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie then scooped it up and returned it for a 57-yard touchdown.
Romo also threw two interceptions—including a pick-six—although only one of them was his fault. On the first, he threw the ball behind Witten before the tight end tipped it into the hands of Uani’ Unga. On the second, Brandon Meriweather knocked the ball loose as Devin Street tried to haul in the catch. Street, who replaced Bryant, then lost the ball before Trumaine McBride snatched it out of the air.
We also got our first indication of whether DeMarco Murray’s performance last year was more because of his talent or his offensive line’s talent. The Cowboys carried the ball 23 times for 80 yards and zero touchdowns, averaging out to 3.5 yards per carry. Although we’re only one week into the season, it seems some may have underrated Murray’s role in his record-breaking season.
Miami Dolphins 17, Washington Redskins 10
Washington racked up almost 100 more total yards than Miami, but they also turned it over twice as much, more than doubled the Dolphins in penalty yards and didn’t score a single point in the second half. The Redskins did a few things well that showed their potential is greater than finishing at the bottom of the division once again, but they squandered several opportunities.
Washington did an excellent job establishing the run game as Alfred Morris carried the ball 25 times for 121 yards. As a team, they rushed for 161 yards. The offensive line also blocked well in the ground game and Jordan Reed proved to be a nice security blanket for Kirk Cousins. The tight end hauled in seven receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown.
However, as expected, Washington struggled through the air. Cousins completed 21 of his 31 pass attempts for 196 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Perhaps the biggest blow to the Redskins’ passing attack came in the first quarter as DeSean Jackson left the game with a hamstring injury. The receiver said he’d have an MRI at some point today to determine the severity of his injury.
On defense, their front seven fared well against the run game but the secondary also showed how quickly they can give up points. It took the Dolphins just 1:22 to drive 80 yards for a touchdown before the first half ended. Washington also failed to finish drives on offense as they committed penalties to push themselves out of field goal range and failed to convert important third downs.
It seemed like a classic Redskins performance as self-inflicted wounds cost them a victory.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Malcolm Jenkins and Walter Thurmond explain how they’ll try to defend Julio Jones.
Tim and I answered 10 burning Eagles questions on the eve of the season opener.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Andrew Kulp breaks down the Eagles-Falcons matchup, including a favorable battle in the secondary.
The Seahawks’ defense, this is not. The Falcons may have tabbed former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn for their head coaching vacancy, but there’s a stark contrast between the two franchises in terms of talent disparity.
Nowhere is that more evident than in the secondary. Atlanta finished dead last against the pass in 2014, and improvements on the back end appear to have been minimal.
Cornerback Desmond Trufant, 25 years old, is the unit’s best player. The Falcons’ 2013 first-round draft pick has the length (6-foot) and speed (4.38 40) to be left alone on an island in the Cover 3, Quinn’s preferred coverage scheme.
That’s OK, because Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford can look elsewhere.
Bradford isn’t worried about any return-to-football jitters he might have Monday night, Les Bowen reports.
Bradford said he has a good feel for his receivers, as he prepares to play in a regular-season game for the first time since Oct. 20, 2013, when he suffered the first of his two left ACL tears, playing for the St. Louis Rams at Carolina.
“I feel great with [the receivers]. You guys talk like I didn’t get any work with them,” Bradford said. “We had five weeks of practice. We’re out here for two hours a day; we got a ton of snaps with those guys. I feel really good with both the receivers and the linemen.”
Bradford said he expects “jitters” as he makes his return, but added: “I think there’s jitters every week, and I think that’s what makes this game fun . . . There are so many other things that I’m thinking about [during a game], it’s hard to even think about my knee.”
Real, actual football. 7:10 p.m. in the Georgia Dome.