Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Cowboys
The Philadelphia Eagles picked up a dramatic 33-27 overtime victory in Dallas to keep pace with the New York Giants in the race for the NFC East division title.
The win not only helped the Eagles gain some momentum in the second half of the season, it also dropped the Cowboys to their sixth straight loss as they continue to wait for Tony Romo to return to the lineup.
The Eagles have five of their next seven games at home and need to start putting together a winning streak. Clutch performances late in the game led to some good grades for key players.
DeMarco Murray - Murray looked good in his return to Dallas. He went over triple digits in total yards and looks to be getting more comfortable running the ball in this offense. Murray carried the ball 18 times for 83 yards and 1 touchdown. He also caught 6 passes for 78 yards. Murray accounted for 161 total yards.
Ryan Mathews - Mathews continues to make the most of his limited opportunities. His production makes you wonder what he would do with more touches. Mathews seems to hit holes faster and harder than Murray at this point. He rushed the ball 11 times for 67 yards and 1 touchdown.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks has some of those unteachable skills. He is always around the ball and did it once again in this game. Hicks undercut an out pattern and recorded a pick six to give the Eagles a fourth quarter lead. He finished the night with 7 tackles and a pass deflection on top of his pick six.
Sam Bradford - Bradford definitely had a great birthday. He is playing better as the season continues. What impressed me and earned the 'A' in this game was the performance in the clutch. He looked cool and calm in the pocket almost to the point of holding the ball too long. His throws were on the money in that fourth quarter and overtime. Perhaps the biggest difference in Bradford now versus the beginning of the season is the lack of turnovers. He is taking better care of the ball and it is making a big difference. Bradford completed 25 of 36 passes for 295 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.
Jordan Matthews - Matthews had his best game of the season including a clutch 41 yard touchdown in overtime to win the game. He added a clutch 34 yard grab late in the fourth quarter. He was targeted 12 times and caught 9 of those passes for 133 yards and the game-winning touchdown. It looked by my count that he had just one drop, which is a big improvement from previous weeks.
Caleb Sturgis - Sturgis faced his fair share of criticism early in his Eagles stint. However, he was rock solid in this game. The Eagles do not win this game without Sturgis drilling a 53 yard field goal late in the game. Sturgis was 2 of 2 on field goal attempts and 3 of 3 on his extra points.
(Listen to Scott Grayson explain his grades on the Sports Bash)
Offensive Line - Considering this line was missing star left tackle Jason Peters, it did pretty well. The Eagles rushed for more than 100 yards and gave up just 1 sack. Lane Johnson played left tackle in place of Peters while Dennis Kelly filled in at right tackle for Johnson. Center Jason Kelce appeared to play one of his best games of the season.
Brandon Graham - Graham had a solid game forcing a pair of fumbles by knocking the ball out of Quarterback Matt Cassel's hand. He did that against one of the best tackles in all of football. One of those sack fumbles took the Cowboys out of field goal range on third down. Graham racked up two forced fumbles, two sacks and __ tackles. Graham avoided an 'A' by a bonehead unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a big 3rd and 1 stop by the Eagles defense.
Mychal Kendricks - Kendricks used his speed and athleticism to get in the backfield and pressure Matt Cassel. He recorded a big third down sack to halt a Cowboys drive in the third quarter. Kendricks defended passes and made __ tackles including two tackles for a loss.
Byron Maxwell - I thought Maxwell played pretty well. He looked to have good coverage on two bad pass interference calls against him late in the game. Maxwell looks to be getting more comfortable with his role on this defense. It also helps that Billy Davis is mixing in some help for Maxwell at times so he is not hung out to dry as badly as he was early in the season.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins continues to be the rock on this defense. He is one of the best safeties in the league, partially due to his versatility. Jenkins led the team in tackles with 9 against the Cowboys. He helps confuse the quarterback because when he comes up to the line they have no idea if he is guarding the run, blitzing or dropping into coverage.
Nolan Carroll - Carroll got off to a slow start in this game, but battled back. He gave up a big 51 yard reception to Dez Bryant on the Cowboys opening drive. He also gave up a touchdown to Cole Beasley. Later in the game, Carroll had better coverage and broke up passes. Carroll has been pretty solid in the secondary this season.
Josh Huff - I continue to be disappointed in Huff. He seems to break his route off short of the first down marker on third down. That is one of the little things good receivers do to help a quarterback and the offense by knowing where they are on the field to help move the chains with the reception. He had two catches for 10 yards. Both of his receptions were in the first quarter and both were made on third down with neither gaining enough yardage to get a first down.
Run Defense - I didn't want to single out one guy and blame him for allowing 134 yards on the ground. Typically the Eagles stuff the run pretty well. Missing DeMeco Ryans definitely hurt the run defense. It has been solid, but allowed the Cowboys to move the ball on the ground. It will likely be fixed, but it was one of the negatives in this game.