McMullen’s Quick Hits: Eagles Collapse in Dallas
(973espn.com) - If it’s not one rookie, it’s the other with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys roared back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to top the Eagles 29-23 in overtime when Dak Prescott pirouetted away from the pass rush to throw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten for the walk-off win.
It was Dallas’ sixth straight victory and gave the Cowboys a two-game lead in the NFC East.
Prescott rebounded from some early troubles to finish 19 of 39 for 287 yards with two touchdowns and an end-zone interception that looked like it might be the turning point in the game.
Instead, Prescott rallied the Cowboys with a late touchdown pass to Dez Bryant before the game winner, taking his first high-profile matchup with Carson Wentz, who finished 32 of 43 for 202 yards and one score.
CHECK DOWN CARSON
Wentz’s numbers were fine and he was let down by his receivers a number of times as well, most notably when Nelson Agholor dropped a key third down in the red zone but 4.69 yards per attempt is just not good enough and the Eagles have to find a way to push the football down the field to loosen up the defense.
Part of the problem is play calling as Doug Pederson continues to protect Wentz with quick throws and run-pass options that really don’t have a built-in, stretch the field aspect to them.
And of course, some of it is the fact that the receivers are just not all that explosive but it’s only going to get tougher in future weeks if Philadelphia doesn’t at least try to pop the top on occasion.
The most impressive that the Eagles’ offense looked was when they went up-tempo in the third quarter, which in turn caused Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli to retreat into a cover-2 shell that was easily decipherable.
It resulted in a 12-play, 69-yard touchdown drive, culminating with a Wentz 5-yard TD throw to Jordan Matthews, in which the Dallas D was out of position pre-snap and simply did not cover Matthews.
BELL COW DARREN
Darren Sproles was again the guy in the backfield and had a great game, rushing 15 times for 86 yards. The rest of the committee saw Ryan Mathews get only four touches, Kenjon Barner with three and rookie Wendell Smallwood taking over the fourth-quarter fumbling duties, dishing the football off in his lone carry which fueled the Cowboys’ comeback.
A REAL RECEIVER
Dez Bryant returned to the Cowboys’ lineup and only had four catches in 14 targets but there were two huge ones, a 53-yarder against Leodis McKelvin that set up Dallas’ first TD and the fade that tied it in the fourth when he used his strong hands to rip the ball out of the air over Nolan Carroll.
Chip Kelly didn’t give Philadelphia much during his one year in charge of personnel but he did give the city Jordan Hicks, who continues to be one of the best young linebackers in the NFL.
After stuffing the stat sheet like an NBA player against Minnesota last week, Hicks continued his role as a Cowboys killer late in the first half. With Dallas at the Eagles’ 7-yard-line and threatening to go on top, Hicks dropped back in zone coverage, read Prescott’s eyes and slipped in front of Brice Butler to intercept the football in the red zone. A Texas native, Hicks has now forced a turnover in all three games he's played against the Cowboys and also broke Tony Romo’s collarbone.
BOGER THE BOOGEYMAN ?
Much was made of the fact that Jerome Boger’s officiating crew came into this game leading the NFL with 20.3 penalties called per game and Doug Pederson was even asked about “the Boogeyman” at his Friday press conference.
It didn’t factor into the game, however, as Boger and Co. came in under their average with 16 penalties despite the extra time and only five of those were called on the Eagles.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen