First and 10: Eagles Limp into Playoffs
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The scoreboard never mattered on Sunday but the play of Nick Foles sure did.
The Eagles were whitewashed, 6-0, by the Dallas Cowboys, falling to 13-3 on the season and failing to set the franchise record for wins in a season.
It was the first time Philadelphia was shut out since a Jan. 3, 2010 game, also against the Cowboys (a 24-0 margin).
Doug Pederson was hoping to bolster the confidence of his offense by giving Foles and the unit some playing time after a poor performance in a Christmas night win over Oakland despite the fact that the Eagles already clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
If anything the opposite was accomplished as Foles completed just 4-of-11 passes for 39 yards and an interception for a dismal 9.3 passer rating in a quarter of action. He also dropped another low snap by Jason Kelce that he was able to recover.
Despite the second straight poor performance in frigid conditions Foles insisted he has not lost confidence.
"I feel great," he insisted. "I know what I can do. I know the guys are confident in me. We expect to execute better. This wasnt acceptable. We know how talented we can be. We can do special stuff.”
Nate Sudfeld made his NFL debut, taking over the offense in the second quarter. He was a little better statistically finishing 19 of 23 for 134 yards and a 90.9 rating but obviously, the efficacy wasn't there best highlighted by the pedestrian yards-per-attempt.
"I felt there were some plays that we weren't able to finish," Sudefeld said. "I felt like I took two sacks that I shouldn't have. Overall, you want to actually get points and finish drives but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit."
Philadelphia is now off until the divisional round of the playoffs at Lincoln Financial Field on the weekend of Jan. 13-14.
"We have two weeks to prepare," star safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "That's what we are really focusing on. It's how do we pour everything we have into the next two weeks and make sure we show up to Lincoln Financial Field and we can just cut it loose and play."
-And 10 things you should know:
-The talented Sidney Jones made his NFL debut, making two tackles. Philadelphia's second-round pick back in April, Jones spent most of the season rehabbing the ruptured Achilles' he suffered at University of Washington's Pro Day back in March. Thought to be a first-round talent before the injury, Jones returned to the practice field on Dec. 12 and the Eagles had until Wednesday of next week to either put him on the 53-man roster or move him to injured reserve, the latter shutting him down for the season.
Philadelphia made room on Friday by placing linebacker Joe Walker on injured reserve and then giving that roster spot to Jones, who flashed but also got caught on a double move on one occasion and losing contain on one Ezekiel Elliott run. He eventually left the game with cramps and never returned.
"You can't even describe it," Jones said when talking about his first action. "It's a whole bunch of nerves and juices going. Good juices. It's a blessing."
-The Eagles list of inactive was veteran heavy with RB Jay Ajayi and a heavy list of defenders: LB Nigel Bradham, DEs Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, DT Tim Jernigan, S Rodney McLeod and CB Jalen Mills. Jenkins and Fletcher Cox started but barely played.
-LeGarrette Blount needed 21 yards to earn a $300,000 bonus and got it by rushing for 37 yards on nine rushes. Brent Celek, meanwhile, needed 15 receiving yards for 5,000 in his career and came up two short.
-Elliott finished with 103 rushing yards, the first 100-yard rusher the Eagles have allowed since the Redskins' Matt Jones in October of last season.
"I think that's the biggest thing when going on the road. We're able to establish the run game and the control the ball and control the clock," Elliott said.
-It's never a good sign when your punter is the star but Donnie Jones was that for the Eagles today, excelling in the frigid temperatures with three punts placed inside the 20. He even gave us the most entertainment value by forgetting to take off his sweatpants before going on the field.
-On the offensive line, Isaac Seumalo got some work at center after Jason Kelce exited while Chance Warmack and Will Beatty replaced Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson on the right side. Stefen Wisniewski returned at left guard after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury.
-Beau Allen got the start for Jernigan while Destiny Vaeao replaced Cox after his cameo. Backup defensive end Steven Means got the lone sack of Dak Prescott in the game.
-Jim Schwartz, who is expected to interview for the New York Giants head coaching job this week, started the game with a four-linebacker look with Mychal Kendricks joined by Danel Ellerbe, Najee Goode and rookie Nate Gerry.
-The Eagles third-down woes continued with the team finishing just 2 of 11. With Foles in the lineup, the Philadelphia offense is 1 of 17 on third downs over the past two weeks.
"I think we're just not executing," Klece said. "We're getting into bad situations in third down because we're not executing on first and second down."
-Advanced scouts from New Orleans, Atlanta and Seattle were at the game.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen