Eagles-Cowboys, The Day After


USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports

ARLINGTON, TX — Jordan Matthews had just dropped another pass, and he wasn’t going to let it slide.

It happened in the red zone during Thursday’s training session, per Sam Bradford. The ball got away from the receiver like it had too frequently over the first seven games of the season. Determined to do something about it, Matthews kicked it into overdrive.

“After that drop, I think he took every rep on the offensive side of the ball and then he took every rep on scout team going against the defense. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a starting wide receiver do that,” said Bradford. “It was just…You could see it in his eyes – his hunger to get out there and to fix it and to improve. I think everyone on the team saw the way that he worked. I couldn’t be happier for that guy, the way he played tonight.”

It was a much-need breakthrough performance, for both the receiver and quarterback alike. Matthews led all receivers with nine catches for 133 yards and a touchdown, while Bradford got hot in the second half and finished 25-of-36 for 295 yards with a touchdown (103.4 QB rating). It was both players’ best game of the season to date.

Earlier this week, Matthews talked  about the importance of building a relationship with the quarterback.

“I think the one [QB] I played with the longest [in college] was Jordan Rodgers — Aaron Rodgers‘ younger brother — and you could definitely see how well we worked together,” he said.”It’s football, [the play] could go anywhere, but you know [with familiarity], ‘OK I’m lined up, this ball is coming to me right here’ so I can take my time or I can do this or that to get open, and it just helps. I think that’s where we’re going, that’s where we’re getting to.”

Perhaps Bradford and Matthews don’t have the unspoken communication down just yet, but the final play of the game certainly can be looked at as a moment to build off. In overtime, a replay review of a potential Ryan Mathews fumble on 4th-and-1 created a rare occasion for the Eagles offense to huddle. Bradford stepped into the circle and looked in Matthews’ direction.

“I got the call from Chip and I came to the huddle and I said, ‘Hey, I’m coming to you. Win right here,’ “ said Bradford.

“Sam was like, ‘I’m coming to you, so you’ve got to make the play for me.’ So it kind of felt like, I’ve done this before; it’s college – huddling up and going to make a play. He trusted me, he gave me a chance to catch and run, and it was game over,” added Matthews,

It’s yet to be determined what this all means. Dallas is in a tailspin, and it took overtime for the Eagles to edge them out and work their way up to 4-4. But it does seem significant that the offense clicked into a gear that it hadn’t reached up until this point this season (behind a makeshift line, no less), thanks in large part to a quarterback and receiver that got into a groove at last.

“We created some explosive plays and I thought for the first time in a few weeks we really utilized our tempo the way we wanted to,” said Bradford. “We played fast, we played the way we want to play, and I think that made a difference tonight.

“This was a big game for us. Coming off the bye week, obviously a divisional game on the road, we needed this one. And hopefully this gives us some momentum going into the second half of the year.”

THE ROOKIE

Dallas had just tied the game at 14-14 following Cole Beasley‘s second touchdown of the game, and had the ball again looking to move in front early in the fourth. That’s when Jordan Hicks jumped into the mix and delivered another big blow to the Cowboys.

Hicks pick 1

“I saw the route combination, trusted my eyes and jumped it. Caught it in stride. He threw it right to me,” said Hicks. “It was just a simple high-low route. The two ran out, and like I said I just trusted my eyes…and just went for it.”

hicks pick 2

It was Hicks’ first interception return for a touchdown at any level, he said.

“I knew [I was going to score], I knew. I looked over and saw Matt Cassel chasing me and knew it was six.”

Hicks continues to build a case to be in consideration for Rookie of the Year. Through eight games, he’s posted two interceptions, three fumble recoveries, three passes defensed, a forced fumble and a sack. What’s more, the University of Texas grad been absolutely devastating to the Cowboys. It was his hit on the Tony Romo that knocked the QB out — Dallas has lost six straight since losing Romo in Week 2 — and on Sunday night, he helped push the Cowboys deeper into a hole that they’ll have a very difficult time climbing out of.

When a reporter brought up the fact that the Cowboys probably don’t like him very much given what he’s done to them this year, he responded:

“I guess that’s their problem, huh?”

SOCIAL SKILLS

A motivated offensive line on facing Greg Hardy.


An Eagles fan (and Eagles fans everywhere) after Cassel led a 93-yard scoring drive.

NOTABLE QUOTES

“Don’t run it this way.”

— What Brandon Graham said to Darren McFadden after the Dallas back was stuffed on 3rd-and-1. Graham was flagged for taunting. “We were talking back and forth the whole game, kind of joking,” he said. “It wasn’t that serious.”

“Right after I did it, I was like, ‘I hope they don’t fine me.’ That was the first thing. I’m an Economics major, so it happens. When I got in, I heard [Josh] Huff say, ‘Throw it! Throw it! Do it! Do it!’ So if I do get fined I’m coming to him for part of it.”

— Matthews on tossing the ball into the stands after his game-winning score.

“I don’t even know what happened on the play, I’m still dizzy.”

Matt Cassel on his circus throw to Dez Bryant that the receiver snatched for a TD.

“I was pissed off. I didn’t want to leave this building a loser. That was the last thing I wanted to do. It was another damn false start by me. I just keep hitting them like clockwork. I’m pretty pissed off about that. Other than that, though, we hit some left side good little outside zones to help get us into position to get that play to Jordan.”

Lane Johnson on going to overtime.

“I’m fine.”

Hicks on his pec injury. He’s expected to have an MRI today that will tell the whole story.

“I don’t want to talk any more about Greg Hardy.”

Jason Garrett, asked if having Hardy on the roster is worth it. Somehow, I don’t think Garrett will get his wish.

“That will be $271.10”

The lady at the “Abandoned Vehicle” counter in Arlington, Texas. Josh and I rolled out of AT&T Stadium around 1 a.m. only to find our car had been towed from the parking lot for reasons unknown. Seeing as we had a 6:15 flight to catch and some writing still to do, this was a less-than-ideal development. We tracked the car down eventually, though, and were able to get it out of storage for the perfectly reasonable price of $271.10.

A sleep-deprived Paunil wrote angry last night, my friends, but delivered a fine Wake-Up Call just the same, getting it posted just under the wire.

SNAP COUNTS

OFFENSE

Offense Cowboys snaps

Riley Cooper was limited after sustaining a foot injury…Miles Austin got a bump in playing time as a result but ended with just one catch for 27 yards on three targets…Zach Ertz played 90 percent of the snaps last week and 81 percent this week…Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles had an identical workload.

DEFENSE

Defense snaps cowboys 2

The bulk of the inside linebacker reps went to Hicks and Mychal Kendricks. Kiko Alonso was eased back in and looked a little rusty…E.J. Biggers got a healthy amount of snaps and came up with a key pass break-up…Marcus Smith dressed and played some special teams but did not rotate in on defense. Billy Davis used various subpackages to give the starting outside linebackers and occasional breather.