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The Sports Daily > Eagles Eye Blog
Cowboys 38, Eagles 33…Jason Witten could not be denied…

Despite a better-than-expected performance by Eagles rookie QB Nick Foles and another O.J. Simpson tribute by running back Bryce Brown, the Dallas Cowboys rode the confusion in the Philly secondary all the way to the end of the line. TE Jason Witten was the main connection for Tony Romo. When not making key blocks, he was making key receptions. The Eagles had no answer for covering Witten.

 

 

 

 


Whenever Dallas needed a big drive-sustaining play, there was Witten.

I don't know what the exact coverage was supposed to be on Witten. I suspect the LB's were supposed to drop back at least 10 yards whenever Witten released from the LOS.  I guess they should have kept dropping back 5 yards more.

Witten ended up with 6 receptions for 108 yards. Each reception seemed like a critical drive extender.

Dez Bryant will get the glory, but Witten set up the opportunities.The Cowboys (6-6) trailed 27-24 when Romo led an 86-yard drive that was sparked by a 35-yard pass to Dez Bryant on third down. Bryant gave Dallas the lead when he took a screen pass from the 6 and got inside the pylon with 5:40 remaining.

The Eagles (3-9) lost their eighth straight game despite 169 yards rushing and two touchdowns from rookie Bryce Brown a week after he set a team rookie record with 178 yards.

After Romo's go-ahead touchdown pass, Dallas went up by 11 when CB Morris Claiborne returned a fumble by Brown 50 yards for a touchdown. Brown's fumble snapped a streak of eight straight scoring drives by both teams.

Philadelphia had a chance for an improbable rally when Damaris Johnson returned a punt 98 yards with 31 seconds left. After a failed 2-point conversion kept the score at 38-33, the Cowboys recovered the onside kick…and you guessed it, Jason Witten (on the front line of the "hands" team) made the recovery.

Nick Foles led the Eagles to a 27-24 lead early in the fourth quarter by driving into position for a 43-yard field goal by Alex Henery.

But Romo had a response, and ended up completing all 10 passes in the second half and his last 12 overall. He was 22 of 27 for 303 yards with no interceptions and a passer rating of 150.5.

Dallas running back DeMarco Murray, who started after missing six games with a sprained right foot, finished with 83 yards and a touchdown.

Bryce Brown, who started his first game since high school when he filled in for LeSean McCoy last week, went in untouched on both of his scoring plays in the first half. He scooted around the left side for a 7-0 lead and trotted through a big hole up the middle to make it 14-3 midway through the second quarter.

Philadelphia was in front after the first quarter for the first time all season, but Dan Bailey got the Cowboys on the board with a 39-yard field goal early in the second. DeMarco Murray's 1-yard touchdown run trimmed the Eagles' lead to 14-10 with 41 seconds left in the half.

Romo overcame a holding penalty and an 8-yard loss when Kevin Ogletree fumbled a handoff on a reverse by completing third-down passes to Jason Witten, Bryant and Miles Austin. Romo then found Witten all alone in the middle of the field for 28 yards to the 1, setting up Murray's score.

The Eagles answered by driving 52 yards in 35 seconds to a 43-yard field goal by Henery on the last play of the half. Foles completed a 29-yard pass to Jason Avant to get the Eagles in scoring range.

Brown got Philadelphia's first scoring drive going with a 42-yard run up the middle and finished it with a 10-yard run.

Trailing 7-3 early the second quarter, the Cowboys went three and out after a third-down completion from Romo to Witten was overturned on a challenge by Eagles coach Andy Reid. Replay showed the ball hitting the turf as Witten grabbed it.

Two plays later, Brown went 39 yards down the sideline and later scored from 5 yards out.

The Cowboys welcomed Murray back by running him three straight times to start the game after calling 52 straight pass plays from the second quarter to the end of a Thanksgiving loss to Washington. The first time Murray went to the sideline, Romo was sacked by DE Brandon Graham on third-and-3.

After the first Philadelphia touchdown, the Cowboys drove down the field for Bailey's field goal. Romo found Witten for 11 yards on third-and-10 and escaped pressure to complete a pass to Cole Beasley for 13 yards to the Eagles 41. Romo also had a 15-yard scramble.

Not only did Dallas get Murray back, but their offensive line was closer to full strength. Center Ryan Cook returned after missing time with a knee injury, which allowed Mackenzy Bernadeau to return to guard after two starts at center.

The Eagles had a decent shot to steal this game. Because the Cowboys defense was weakened by injury through the middle, OC Marty Mornhinweg was able to protect the rookie Foles at QB by calling a lot of handoffs and draw plays from the shotgun. And it worked. The Eagles offensive line, as patched together as it is, did a nice job of blocking on stretch runs. When not handing the ball off, Foles got enough time to read at least two downfield target options on most pass plays and made some nice throws. I was impressed by his progress in downfield reads, despite a couple of obvious gaffes late in the game when to be honest the contest was already settled.

It hurts to admit it, but we are now a 3-9 team. I don't feel like a 3-9 team fan, but there it is.

Team Stat Comparison

 
PHI
 
DAL
 
1st Downs 23 22
Passing 1st downs
11 14
Rushing 1st downs
11 8
1st downs from Penalties
1 0
3rd down efficiency
6-10 9-14
4th down efficiency
0-1 1-1
Total Plays 61 62
Total Yards 423 417
Yards per play 6.9 6.7
Total Drives 11 9
Passing 240 294
Comp – Att
22-34 22-27
Yards per pass
7.1 10.9
Interceptions thrown
0 0
Sacks – Yards Lost
1-11 2-9
Rushing 183 123
Rushing Attempts
26 33
Yards per rush
7.0 3.7
Red Zone (Made-Att) 3-3 2-3
Penalties 1-5 7-60
Turnovers 1 0
Fumbles lost
1 0
Interceptions thrown
0 0
Defensive / Special Teams TDs 1 1
Possession 26:42 33:18