Grayson’s Grades: Eagles at Cowboys
ARLINGTON, Texas - The Philadelphia Eagles season may have come down to a tipped ball that went for a touchdown in overtime. That play gave the Dallas Cowboys a 29-23 win and likely put the Eagles out of contention for the NFC East title.
The Eagles offense was stagnant and poor through three quarters before it finally got going and scored some touchdowns. Meanwhile, the defense did its best to keep the Eagles in the game forcing three turnovers, but failing to come up with a stop in overtime.
The Cowboys took the opening kickoff in overtime and marched 75 yards on 13 plays in 8:05 never giving the Eagles a chance to possess the ball in OT.
At 6-7, the Eagles face a Super Bowl contender next week when they travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams.
Here is this week's Grayson's Grades:
Rasul Douglas - Great job to leap and pick off a Dak Prescott pass at the goal line turning what appeared to be a drive that was going to result in some points into one that went scoreless. It gave the Eagles the ball at their own 18. Douglas had a very solid game. Zach Ertz called it, "The best game I have seen him play." Malcolm Jenkins said, "I thought he was phenomenal." Douglas appeared to play the final pass perfectly, tipping it in the air, but unfortunately for the Eagles it went directly to Amari Cooper and he scored the winning touchdown.
Corey Graham - Graham had a huge interception on an overthrow by Dak Prescott. Graham returned it to the Cowboys two-yard line. That started to get the offense some sort of life. They converted that turnover into a touchdown. Graham finished with ten tackles on top of the interception.
Michael Bennett - Bennett played a great game. He was all over the various stat columns. Perhaps he had no bigger stat than five quarterback hits on Dak Prescott including one-and-a-half sacks as well as two tackles for a loss. Bennett forced a fumble in this game and also finished with seven tackles. He got off to a slow start early in the year, but has really turned it on more and more as the season continued.
Fletcher Cox - Cox played well in this game. He helped generate some pressure on Prescott and was credited with one-and-a-half sacks. He had another one taken away when the Eagles accepted a holding penalty instead of taking the sack. Cox was second on the team with four quarterback hits. He also added three tackles and one tackle for a loss.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor made an amazing catch with less than two minutes to go somehow getting both heels in before stepping out of bounds. It went for 42 yards to the Dallas two-yard line. Agholor did not get many chances to have the ball, but finished with two catches for 49 yards.
Josh Adams - Turned several runs that appeared to be stopped for little to no gain into big gains on the opening drive. Had three carries for 30 yards on that drive. However, for some reason he did not get another touch until the third quarter and was hardly used after that. Adams told me after the game that he was healthy and had no idea why he did not get another carry after that but reiterated that he is there to do what the coaches want him to do. Adams finished with seven carries for 36 yards.
Dallas Goedert - Goedert made a couple of huge catches in the fourth quarter. He caught one pass in stride for a 26-yard gain. Two plays later he caught a touchdown pass from Wentz. Goedert made an unbelievable play right after the Cowboys took a 23-16 lead when he caught a pass over the middle and somehow stayed on his feet apparently going 75 yards for a touchdown. He was flagged for offensive pass interference. Replays did not show anything. It was a bad call by the officials. Goedert caught four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Jim Schwartz - Schwartz watched as the Eagles offense struggled leaving his defense on the field a ton in this game. However, the defense kept the Eagles in the game. They forced three turnovers. Statistically they played poorly, but did make plays when they needed to. It was an interception that set up the first touchdown by the offense by giving them the ball at the Dallas two-yard line. It was a sack-fumble that led to the tying field goal. There was also an interception by Rasul Douglas that ended a long drive by the Cowboys in the first half. I have been very critical of Schwartz this season, but this loss was not on the Eagles defense. Sure, there were a few plays here and there that could have been avoided. Overall, the defense is not on the field for as many plays if the Eagles offense could have done something in the first three quarters.
Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery made some nice catches in this game. He had a couple thrown behind him and failed to make the catch. Jeffery also dropped one when it appeared he knew he was about to take a big hit and that hit dislodged the ball. He was targeted nine times and caught six passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Nigel Bradham - Bradham led the team with 14 tackles. He missed one on Ezekiel Elliott that would have stopped him short of the sticks. Instead, Elliott stayed on his feet and was able to move the chains. Bradham was on the field for a ton of plays in this game.
Malcolm Jenkins - Forced a fumble on the opening kickoff that appeared to be recovered by the Eagles. Referees claimed there was no conclusive evidence of a recovery so the Cowboys retained possession. Jenkins moved all over the field and was in on many tackles. In fact, he finished tied for second on the team with ten tackles.\
Kamu Grugier-Hill - Grugier-Hill gave the Cowboys some bulletin board material when he said earlier in the week that they "choke." He appeared to help set the tone when he emerged from a pile with the ball after an apparent fumble on the opening kickoff. Replay was unable to conclude who recovered the ball and the Cowboys retained possession. Grugier-Hill was flying around the field and made a total of eight tackles. He is filling in for Jordan Hicks and did a pretty good job.
Zach Ertz - Ertz had 14 catches the last time these two teams met. He was held to five receptions for 38 yards in this game. Ertz was targeted eight times. His fewer catches were due in large part to absolutely no offensive flow as a unit in the first three quarters. Ertz and the rest of the offensive players I talked to after the game still had no answer for why the offense struggled.
Carson Wentz - Wentz looked off. He was missing behind receivers and overthrew a couple of receivers as well. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket and his footwork reflected that. He was not settling his feet and it led to the poor accuracy. However, when he needed to he did make some nice throws to Dallas Goedert late in the fourth quarter. That included a touchdown pass to Goedert tying the game at 16. Ultimately, Wentz rebounded but perhaps too little too late. He completed 22 of 32 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. But he held the ball too long in the pocket and ultimately that led to two sacks including a sack-fumble as well as five quarterback hits.
Jake Elliott - Had Elliott made the extra point he missed, perhaps the Eagles win this game in regulation. Although, had he made that the Cowboys would have played their final possession in regulation a little differently. The point is we will never know what would have happened. In the NFL, missed extra points can be the difference between a win and a loss and that might have been the case today. Elliott did make two extra points as well as a 26-yard field goal. However, that miss did hurt. It cannot happen.
Doug Pederson - Pederson's play-calling lacked creativity and flow. I do not understand running an option with Carson Wentz to the short side of the field on third down. I do not understand how Josh Adams gets three carries for 30 yards on the opening drive and does not touch the ball again until the third quarter. I do not understand how Golden Tate goes more than three quarters without getting a touch. The Eagles offense appears to be predictable to the opponents lately. For the tenth time in 13 games, the Eagles failed to score a single point in the first quarter. Those slow starts are putting the defense in a hole and forcing the team to have to come from behind way too often. That falls on game-planning. Typically a team will try to pick on a player or two on the other side of the ball. I cannot figure out who or what scheme the offense is trying to take advantage of against the opponent. If nothing else, take the top five to ten best plays the offense runs well and use them to open the game.