The Eagles beat the Cowboys 24-22. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy. But it was one hell of a win. There are no style points in the NFL, just final scores. I was hoping the Eagles would build off last week’s dominant showing, but that didn’t happen. This became one of those games you hope to survive.
We can make all the Kyle Orton, Tony Romo, Jerry Jones or Monte Kiffin jokes we want, but we have to give the Cowboys some credit. They played hard tonight. They won the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball. That doesn’t mean the Eagles lacked heart or toughness. Some nights the other guy just gets the job done.
I do think the Eagles should be concerned that Dallas won the LOS. That’s not to be taken lightly. If the Eagles were facing a more complete team or better QB, they might have lost that game.
Nick Foles had a nightmare game vs Dallas back in October. He was a very different player tonight. Foles went 17-26-263. He threw for 2 TDs. He didn’t have a pick, but did have a fumble. That turnover led to a Dallas field goal. Foles made some big throws in the game. He hit Celek with a deep ball early on. That was almost a perfect throw. Foles threw somewhat of a jumpball to Jason Avant on a later drive. That appeared to be risky, but Foles saw the matchup and knew Avant had the edge. Foles took a chance, but a calculated one.
Shady McCoy had an up and down game, but he was spectacular for one drive in the 2nd half. The Eagles led 17-16 when they got the ball near midfield. Shady ran the ball 7 times on that drive. Bryce Brown had a couple of carries, including one for a 6-yard TD that provided the winning points. Shady ran well all game, but the blocking wasn’t consistently good. He finished with 27 carries for 131 yards. He also caught a short TD pass.
The Eagles defense did not have a banner night. They gave up 358 passing yards to Kyle Orton. The pass rush was non-existent. That was extremely discouraging. The CBs did a very good job in the game. It was the LBs and Safeties who struggled. Jason Witten ate them alive. And in a nightmare scenario, Dez Bryant was matched up with Patrick Chung 1-on-1 late in the game on a 4th down. Bryant caught the pass, broke the tackle attempt and ran for a TD.
Cris Collinsworth was going on and on about Mychal Kendricks early in the game. Kendricks looked good, but I was waiting for his one or two key mistakes to change all the hype Collinsworth was throwing his way. Wouldn’t you know it, MK played the best game of his NFL career. He led the team with 12 tackles. He had an INT and FF. He got burned by Witten a time or two, but only because Jason is 6 inches taller. Nothing you can do about that.
Brandon Boykin sealed the game with an INT. He also made a key play earlier. It was 3rd/2. Dallas ran left. Boykin got wide and forced Murray to stay inside, where he was stopped for just a gain of 1. Then on 4th/1, Barwin knocked down Orton’s throw. Boykin also broke up a deep ball to Bryant. He did get burned by Terrance Williams for a big gain, but did have good coverage even on that play.
STs was a big concern going into the game, but the Eagles won that battle. Donnie Jones hit some big punts. His final kick, with the game on the line, went for 56 yards. That is clutch. Alex Henery hit a 47-yard FG and had several touchbacks. DeSean Jackson had a 23-yard PR that set up a long drive (got stopped on 4th/GL).
The Eagles made more plays than Dallas. The Eagles protected the ball better than Dallas. The Eagles were smart. These things helped them to win the game.
The novelty of the win will wear off as the reality of facing the Saints on Saturday sets in. Enjoy the win for the next 24 hours. Never overlook how great it is to win a division title. Remember that just a year ago the Eagles lost the finale 42-7 in a game that wasn’t even that close. That was rock friggin’ bottom.
Chip Kelly did a great job with this team and got them to finish 10-6 and win the NFC East. We’ll see how the team does in the postseason, but this was a great ending to a terrific and fun regular season.
And it didn’t hurt to see Jerry Jones look utterly frustrated at the end of the game. That’s a pretty good late Christmas present.