Eagles Key Plays: How They Happened
The Eagles scored four times, allowed three touchdowns and forced one turnover in their 33-27 win over the Cowboys Sunday night. Here’s how it all happened.
The play: Matt Cassel threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Cole Beasley, who was covered by Malcolm Jenkins, for the first points of the game.
How it happened: Beasley ran a great route, so it’s tough to blame Jenkins much for giving up this touchdown. It took time to develop, and it seemed like Jason Witten was Cassel’s first read. However, the Eagles doubled both Witten and Dez Bryant, leaving Jenkins one-on-one against a “whip” route, which is difficult to defend against a quick receiver.
Bird’s-eye view: “[Beasley] is a tough matchup for a lot of people because he’s so good at getting in and out of breaks,” Chip Kelly said. “The tough matchup in that is that they also have Witten and they also have Dez at full speed, so who are you going to double?
“You can’t double three of them; if you do, you don’t have enough guys. Sometimes they caught us when we were doubling Witten or Dez, and now Beasley is in a one-on-one. That’s what happens when you have three really good weapons in their offense.”
The play: DeMarco Murray ran one yard for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal to tie the game.
How it happened: The Cowboys’ defense seemed to be scrambling a bit right before the snap, and a couple of players reacted late once the play started. Murray did a good job of avoiding foot traffic in the backfield and powered through defenders to get into the end zone.
This was a big decision by Chip to go for it on fourth down in the second quarter, and it paid off. (In case you’re wondering, the New York Times’ 4th Down Bot liked this decision too, based off game probability.)
Bird’s-eye view: “The nose guard submarined, meaning he just kind of shot down on the ground, which makes it really hard to get any movement and just creates a pile,” Jason Kelce said. “I tried to forklift him out, but then I saw DeMarco next to me and tried to push him a little, but I think he was going to get that on his own regardless.”
The play: Ryan Mathews ran six yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead in the third quarter.
How it happened: According to Kelce, the Eagles went unbalanced with an offensive lineman positioned as a tight end three times. That’s what they did on this touchdown run, and Kelce did a great job of breaking down the offensive line’s blocking below. As for the receivers, Jordan Matthews was outstanding in sealing the defensive back to the outside, letting Mathews run into the end zone untouched.
Bird’s-eye view: “Lane [Johnson] knocks himself on his own ass, that ended up being the key block,” Kelce said. “Sometimes they call you for holding in that situation, and it’s one of the most infuriating holding calls you’ll ever get called for in your life. Really, Lane Johnson getting his ass whooped makes that play. He’s the guy that has to pull around and capture the edge.
“The ‘backer I’m going to undercuts the play, so I have to stop and turn back on him. But the biggest block is Dennis Kelly, who did an outstanding job on a guy looping out. Dennis is blocking down on a guy and he spikes back across his face, but he was able to hold him off.”
The play: Cassel threw a 17-yard touchdown to Beasley to tie the game in the third quarter.
How it happened: It looked like Beasley ran an option route where he could either cut inside or outside, and because Jenkins thought he was getting help on the inside, Jenkins maintained outside leverage. However, Walter Thurmond went to double Bryant with Nolan Carroll instead, leaving Beasley wide open as he crossed over the middle.
Bird’s-eye view: “We should have had a double and then thought Beasley was going out, so [Thurmond] went to double Dez, but Beasley came back inside,” Kelly said. “Malcolm thought he was going to have to help back inside.”
The play: Jordan Hicks intercepted Cassel’s pass intended for Darren McFadden and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown.
How it happened: This is a great example of Hicks’ high football IQ. He read the stack bunch and saw McFadden go out to the flat, so he jumped the route. He then outraced Cassel to the end zone, and completely turned the game around for the Eagles.
Dallas faced 2nd-and-7 from Philadelphia’s 36-yard line, and appeared poised to score at least three points. The Cowboys scored a touchdown the series before that, and the Eagles responded with a three-and-out, but Hicks shifted the momentum back to Philadelphia’s side.
Bird’s-eye view: “I know usually when they get into that stack, somebody is either getting in quick or going out quick,” Hicks said. “When I saw him go out quick, I jumped it. I was patient and tried to slow play it.”
The play: Cassel threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Bryant to tie the game in the fourth quarter.
How it happened: This play reminds me a lot of Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M. He would sometimes complete a big pass that seemed really impressive on the surface, but then you thought about it and realized it wasn’t a great decision.
Bryant bailed out Cassel because this ball probably shouldn’t have been thrown in the first place. It worked out in the end, but do you really want your quarterback to throw the ball up for grabs with three defenders around in the red zone?
Bird’s-eye view: “That was a fluke, man,” Carroll said. “Guys fell down around him. That’s all it was.”
The play: Bradford threw a 41-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Matthews in overtime.
How it happened: Josh Huff is actually the first read on this play, but his ‘go’ route was well covered. Matthews then ran a great route of his own, and Huff did an excellent job of blocking down field to help Matthews reach the end zone.
The play-action was also an important element in this play as all of the linebackers bit on it. The middle linebacker was then out of position, and Sam Bradford did a good job of hitting Matthews in stride, which made the difference between a first down and a touchdown.
Bird’s-eye view: “I run a lot of overs where I come across the defense,” Matthews said. “A lot of times in our offense with how fast we’re going, a lot of teams start undercutting those or being really aggressive and the Cowboys were one of them. So I kind of gave them that look like I’m coming across the defense and we’re rolling our whole offense that way, and then Sam rolls out and I break out to the corner.”