NFC East Roundup: Cowboys On the Brink

Photo courtesy: USA Today Sports Images.

Photo: USA Today Sports.

We’ve eclipsed the halfway point of the Eagles’ season, and the NFC East continues to be a bunched-up mess of a division, with just two games separating first and third place.

Here’s a look around the division in the aftermath of a busy Week 9.

The Cowboys have been singing the same refrain since Tony Romo‘s injury, writes ESPN’s Todd Archer, which is that they’re close, but not good enough.

They can look at a pick-six by Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks in the fourth quarter that was returned 67 yards for a score. It was the second interception returned for a score in three games for Matt Cassel.

They can look to a defense that was unable to take the ball away for the sixth time in eight games.

While the effort was game and they fought as hard as Jason Garrett wants, it just wasn’t good enough, which has been the story of their season since Romo went down.

Close, but not good enough.

Bob Sturm of the Dallas Morning-News admits it looks grim in Dallas, but he isn’t ready to give up on the Cowboys’ season just yet.

In five of the six games, the Cowboys would have had to get four touchdowns to win without their full offensive compliment and without the benefit of even a single takeaway. And that, was simply a task that was going to be asking too much of a backup QB.

There have been exactly zero teams all-time who have ever made the playoffs after starting 2-6 in a season. Those odds would seem to answer the question of whether the Cowboys are still in the mix this year. It would appear to be safe to answer that if they were to crawl back into this, it would be the first time it has ever been done. With that in mind, the team now tries to prepare for their next battle and hopefully last without Tony Romo for a long time.

You may check out on 2015, but the team has only reached the halfway point. They have two more months to go.

The New York Post’s Paul Schwartz graded the Giants’ 32-18 win over the Buccaneers, including a middling performance from the offense, which earned a B-minus.

Kind of sluggish, with stops and starts, and there should have been more than two touchdowns. Eli Manning (26 of 40, 213 yards) tossed TD passes to Rueben Randle (5 rec., 40 yards) and Shane Vereen and Odell Beckham Jr. (9 rec., 105 yards) kept the chains moving nicely.

Manning also tossed two interceptions, both on bad throws. Running game averaged only 3.5 yards per carry. Yawn. Good work (56 percent) on third-down conversions. Best work yet nearly running out the clock — came away one play short.

ESPN’s Dan Graziano gives his takeaways from the Giants’ win Sunday, which featured the return of Jason Pierre-Paul.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul played 47 of 62 (75.8 percent) of the Giants’ defensive snaps in his first game since the July 4 fireworks accident that cost him his right index finger.

He seemed to make a difference in the fourth quarter, beating Tampa Bay left tackle Donovan Smith and getting close to Jameis Winston a few times. It’s a good sign for the Giants (and a bit of a surprise) that he was able to play right defensive end for so much of the game.

DeSean Jackson returned to action in Washington’s loss Sunday, and he was good for plenty of soundbites after he was held to 15 yards, writes the Washington Post’s Scott Allen.

“I’m not the one making the drops, I can’t really speak for that,” Jackson said. “As professional athletes, we get paid a lot of money to go out there and perfect the job. That’s what we need to do. So, if we need to correct something in practice and do something better, that’s what we need to do as professionals.”

Finally, [NBC4’s Jason] Pugh asked Jackson if he thinks that there’s enough time left in the season for him to contribute.

“With the opportunities I get, I think I’ll be able to do a good job with that,” Jackson said. “I can’t call the plays for me, I can’t throw the ball to myself, so when the coaches and the quarterback call my number, I’ll be there and doing what I need to do.”

Kirk Cousins didn’t get much help from his teammates and Washington fell to 3-5, writes ESPN’s John Keim.

It’s not as if Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins had a great day. Nobody for Washington did. But Cousins needs help from his teammates and did not receive enough, at least not from his skill players. The Redskins would have struggled to beat the New England Patriots anyway and, sure enough, lost 27-10. But when you keep dropping passes (and missing tackles), it makes any task harder.

Cousins’ offensive line? It did its job in protection, keeping Cousins upright and out of trouble. But when you drop seven passes — their most in one game in eight seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information — you don’t give yourself a chance at all. One of those drops turned into an interception, leading to a touchdown. Others prevented long gains. There have been games in which Cousins has just been off in terms of not only interceptions but also accuracy. His inconsistency has been an issue — and it’s why there are doubts about him for the future.