Well, that’s a wrap. There may be three games remaining, but the Dallas Cowboys have pulled out a two-game lead at the head of the NFC East after defeating the Eagles in an overtime thriller. The game was a complete mess from every standpoint possible, but that’s what made it such an emotional watch. It’s not all over yet, but with a tough schedule ahead, the Eagles have a lot of soul searching to do after leaving it all out on the field. Here’s what we learned.
Defense played lights-out:
No matter which way you look at it, the defense played incredibly well. Missing three of their four starters in the secondary, Timmy Jernigan and Jordan Hicks, this unit punished Dallas all game long. The Cowboys may have picked up a misleading amount of yardage and dominated time of possession, but the Eagles held them to just 6 first half points and came up with turnovers in key situations to save the day. The bottom line is, they were completely gassed by overtime and STILL left it all out on the field.
Sure, there were criticisms, like the drive Sidney Jones was bullied all the way down the field and into the end zone, but as a while, this team tackled much better, played with the intensity that had been previously lacking and gave it everything they had. That’s all you could ask from such an injury ravaged unit.
Carson Wentz wasn’t good enough:
The Eagles needed to win this game and they needed to do it convincingly. Instead, they were unable to keep up with the Cowboys who nursed a two-possession lead into the fourth quarter. Carson Wentz was not good enough. I’ve spoken for weeks about the mechanics being off and the footwork that’s beginning to hamper his accuracy, but Wentz was missing receivers, staring down others and while not helped by some poor blocking at times, was stagnant in the pocket which made him a sitting duck for the Cowboys pass-rush.
By the time Wentz found his mojo and began slinging it with confidence, it was too late. This was a game where the Eagles needed their franchise quarterback to be at his best. He wasn’t.
Officiating was horrendous:
Where do we even begin? The fumble recovery that somehow wasn’t a fumble recovery? How about the offensive pass interference that wiped a Dallas Goedert touchdown off the board? Or how about any other call ever? The consistency of officiating in this game was absolutely horrific. The NFL need to launch a thorough investigation or find a way to combat this because it’s ruining the sincerity of one of the greatest team sports on the planet. It’s a real shame that such an important game is overshadowed by a complete lack of officiating accountability from the league that makes it possible.
All the small things
This game was so circa 2016. The Eagles found great success running the ball early, with Josh Adams picking up an 18+ yard run for the sixth week in a row, so naturally, Pederson opted to completely avoid running the ball, with the offensive balance the team had been blessed with in recent weeks being made redundant. Question marks over play calls on third downs, personnel and even timeout decisions have all been raised. This just felt like an unbuttoned mess that the team were desperately trying to save. If not for the defense playing their tails off, this game would’ve been dead after the first quarter.
The most fitting way to end a season:
In the most heartbreaking way possible, this was the most fitting way to crash out of the playoff race. Although it is still mathematically possible, it’s hard to envision the Cowboys, who have won 5 straight, dropping any more than one of their final 3 games, while the Eagles face both the Rams and the Texans in the next two weeks.
A game that was ruined by officiating, saved by a late offensive surge and ended by a Cowboys offense who capitalized on a defense with nothing left in the tank after being on the field for close to 40 minutes just sums up everything. Injuries, adversity, exterior circumstances, it was just all too much for the Eagles this time around.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports