Turnovers on offense and a leaky defense lead to back-to-back blowout defeats - Eagles are still tied for best overall record in the NFL
ARLINGTON: It might not be a bad idea for the Eagles to book a two-day stay at the Malvern Retreat House.
The guys might like the idea of getting way for some peace and quiet and a little reflection after what happened at AT&T Stadium Sunday night. For the second consecutive week the Eagles--who had not lost two games in a row since October 2021 – were blown out by the Dallas Cowboys, 33-15 in front of 93,752 fans at Jerry’s World.
The Cowboys defense produced three turnovers and completely dominated the Eagles offense en route to the NFC East victory on Sunday Night Football.
The Eagles offense was a unit considered one of league’s best just three weeks ago.
Not last night and not the week before.
The Birds failed to score an offensive touchdown on Sunday.
Last week the Birds were crushed by the San Francisco 49ers, 42-19 at home.
Eagles long-time spiritual leader, defensive end Brandon Graham talked about how tough it can be to be from the City of Brotherly Love when the love turns to anger when their teams aren’t getting the job done.
“Losing a game like this everybody is going to say what they are going to say,” Graham said at his locker after the game. “Don’t worry about it; because at the end of the day, it’s about us. And it’s always going to be about us. We’re going to see those guys again. We’re going to see both those teams again.
“We’ve got to make sure own ourselves when we see them. When you play good teams, you can’t give them the ball three times…you can’t not get off the field because of penalties, too. So we need to make sure we’re detailing everything. I know we’re going to do that.”
Jalen Hurts, who looked like he could use some uplifting advice during his postgame press conference, said the team needs to evaluate itself starting with himself.
He set a bad tone coming up with the game’s first turnover on the Eagles first drive that started after the Cowboys had taken a 7-0 lead.
The 25-year-old lost a fumble on first and twenty at the Dallas 31-yard line. The Birds other two offensive stars, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith also coughed up the ball deep in Cowboys territory.
He was asked what his first thoughts and that of his teammates were after a loss like this.
“A missed opportunity,” Hurts said. “We talk about a missed opportunity. We talked about executing and how important that is. I feel like we put ourselves in good positions and get to the red zone area…and we turned the ball over. I have to do a better job protecting the ball and creating that energy for us. I just have to be better than that.”
Hurts credited the Cowboys with their technique stripping the ball for the reason he and his teammates were stripped of the rock.
THE GAME STARTED OFF WELL FOR THE BIRDS – WINNING THE TOSS AND DEFERRING
Cowboys marched 75 yards down the field in ten plays ending with a 13-yard pass from Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb.
Eagles looked like they would respond.
Eagles first drive featured an 11-yard run by Hurts, the a ten-yard completions to Dallas Goedert – who was playing in his first game since breaking his forearm during the Eagles first game against the Cowboys on November 5. There was a 30-yard completion from Hurts to DeVonta Smith.
A.J. Brown committed a 10-yard penalty but was followed by a 11–yard gain by Hurts. But while getting tackled by safety Donovan Wilson, Hurts fumbled. Wilson recovered fumble for no gain.
On the ensuing 13-play drive, it seemed like the Cowboys tried to ruin the drive over and over with three penalties and seven incomplete passes.
Finally Cowboys rookie Brandon Aubrey tried and made a 60-yard field goal to make the score 10-0 with fifty seconds left in the first quarter. The Birds got to plays off for eight yards before the quarter ended.
The Eagles started the second quarter with a fake punt after an incomplete pass by Hurts.
Braden Mann hit Olamide Zaccheaus with a 28-yard completion.
The drive fizzled when on third and five, A.J. Brown let a brilliantly place ball slip through his hands inside the five.
Jake Elliott hit a 52-yard field goal to make the score 10-3.
The Eagles continued to let Prescott have all the time he needed to pick the Eagles secondary apart. The Cowboys made the score 17-3 after 75-yard, 12 play drive that ended with a Rico Rowdle one-yard plunge that just broke the plane.
The Birds settled for a 44-yard Elliott field goal with 1:48 seconds left after Hurts gave up a seven-yard sack.
Down 17-6 at the half isn’t an insurmountable deficit for this group, right? They’ve come back before a couple of times.
The Birds defense again could not get off the field.
With a 1:48 left in the half, Dak Prescott made his pitch for MVP with a 75-yard, eight-play drive that ended with a Prescott pass to Michael Gallup to the left for one-yard touchdown to make the score 24-6 at the half.
The drive was aided by a remarkable double foul by rookie cornerback Kelee Ringo who was called for pass interference and a face mask on receiver Brandon Cooks, who actually caught the ball for a modest eight-yard gain at the Dallas 48-yard line and was headed out of bounds.
At that point, the Eagles defense has given up TDs on ten of last opponent's eleven drives. The one stop was converted to a 60-yard field goal here in Dallas.
Eagles’ fans thought for sure the strip sack by Fletcher Cox of Prescott that turned into a 42-yard scoop-and-score for rookie Jalen Carter to make the score 23-13 would ignite the Birds for a big rally, right?
That was all the points the Eagles would muster for the night.
QUOTES AND STATS
Dak Prescott finished 24 of 39 for 271 yards, two touchdown passes and no interceptions. Prescott did give up a 42-yard scoop-and-score to Eagles rookie nose tackle Jalen Carter after he was sacked by Fletcher Cox.
Zach Martin, the Cowboys highly decorated right guard was asked about the effect turnovers can have on the rest of team, especially when your defense is the one creating them.
“I mean it’s huge when our defense makes a play,” The eight-time All Pro said. “It’s massive for us. I can speak of an offense, whenever we do that, the turnover takes the wind out of your sails….we’re moving the ball, moving the ball…then once you get into scoring the ball and cough it up. It kind of just sucks the life out of you.”
Martin said he understands the reality that the Cowboys are still tied with the Eagles and 49ers record-wise. And that id the Eagles win out, they Birds get home field if there’s a rematch.
“I just think…control what we can control,”the 33-year-old said. “Tonight it was about going out there and playing good football, complimentary football, which is huge. We were able to control the ball and score. Our defense had some good takeaways in the red zone.”
Jalen Hurts was 18 of 27 for 197 yards, no touchdowns through the air or by foot. H was sacked just once and did not throw an interception.
D’Andre Swift rushed 11 times for 39 yards. Hurts rushed five times for 30 yards.
A. J. Brown caught nine passes for 94 yards, he also lost a fumble on the first drive of the third quarter.
DeVonta Smith caught five passes for 73 yards and lost of a fumble on the Eagles first drive of the fourth quarter.
Haason Reddick had another big night for the Eagles that went to wasted. The former Hadden Heights and Temple standout sac
ked Prescott twice, had three tackles (two solor) and two other quarterback hits. He has 11 sacks in the season.
Tony Pollard rushed 16 times for 59 yards .
CeeDee Lamb caught six passes for 71 yards and a 13-yard score to start the game.
Tight end Jake Ferguson talked about the tough Cowboys schedule in December.
“December football,” said Ferguson, who caught five passes for 72 yards. “This is where teams separate themselves, I think, as a team…we’ll go back to the meeting rooms, look at the film, clean it up and go back to work on the next game.”
Cowboys right tackle Terence Steele talked about how when their defense gets turnovers, how it energizes the offensive unit.
“Our defense made the plays when they were there,” said Steele. “They didn’t chase it. When the opportunity came they jump right on top of it. That was huge. On offense we just have to capitalize on those turnovers.”
All three NFC frontrunners: the 49ers, the Eagles and the Cowboys are 10-3. The Eagles may have the friendliest schedule of the three. Steele was asked if that is something the Cowboys will talk about this week?
“Definitely, we take it week-by-week,” Steele said. “We are taking it one game at a time. The goal is to be 1-0 every week. The rest will take care of itself.”
EAGLES PLAYERS SAY THEY ARE READY TO REGROUP
Darius Slay was asked about the level of Eagles confidence right now. If the Birds win out they would win the NFC East.
“It’s still great, said Slay, who finished with four tackles (three solo) and got his hands on three Prescott passes. “We’ve got great leaders in here that will lead the guys in the right direction. We still have football left, we have four to play. We have to go out and capitalize on these four and get a push on. We still have time.”
Jack Driscoll, who filled in for injured Cam Jurgens at right guard in the second half.
“We’ve just got to get better,” Driscoll said. “Everyone knows it. [the Cowboys] played better than us tonight. We have to correct our mistakes and get ready for the next game.”
Driscoll was asked about the three best ball handlers on offense committing three turnovers.
“Those guys play hard,” Driscoll said. “We have to execute on all three phases of the game and we have to get better.
“People are going to be critical,” Driscoll said. “But I’m sure those guys are more critical on themselves than anyone else. Those guys are great players.”
Graham said it’s time to get back the focus that got them the record they have.
“We have to make sure we clean this up before the real stuff starts in the playoffs,” Graham said. “Right now it’s just a week-to-week game. Like we always say, we have to make sure we come ready to play next week. I know there’s been a lot of short weeks these last few weeks. Now we get an extra day, everybody get healthy. We need to lock in. We need to continue to lock in. It’s never going to be perfect; it’s how we handle it together.”
Not a bad time for a little retreat and reflection. *
Email Al Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org