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Game Notes

Cowboys vs. Eagles: Sunday Preview




With one rival vanquished for the time being, the Dallas Cowboys seek to take down another this Sunday, as they take on the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field (1:00 EST, FOX). The game signals the start of a traveling stretch for the Cowboys, who will play four of their next five games on the road.Unknown

The Cowboys' rivalry with the Eagles is a long and storied one, with the Cowboys holding a 60-47 edge (including playoffs) on their rivals from the City of Brotherly Love. It wasn't so sunny in Philadelphia the last time the Cowboys came to visit, as they took down their green adversaries 38-23 at the stadium known as "The Linc". Although the Cowboys fell behind 17-10 late in the 3rd quarter, they took control of the game via a four minute stretch that spanned the 3rd and 4th quarters. On the final play of the 3rd, Tony Romo found Dez Bryant on a 30 yard strike to tie the game. After a Philadelphia three-and-out, Dwayne Harris, last week's NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, gave the Cowboys a lead they'd never give back on a 78 yard punt return to the end zone, the first of his career. On the next possession, CB Brandon Carr scored a 47 yard pick six. The Cowboys would go on to win the game 38-23, out scoring the Eagles 28-6 over the game final 16 minutes. The rematch in Dallas was a back and forth Sunday night affair, taken by the Cowboys 38-33. Dallas had actually trailed most of the game, falling behind 14-3 midway through the 2nd on two short touchdown runs by then-rookie Eagles RB Bryce Brown. By the time the 4th quarter rolled around, the Cowboys still trailed 24-17, but once again took over the game in the game's final act. Romo's 27 yard strike to Miles Austin tied the game, and another Romo touchdown pass, this one to Bryant from 6 yards out, gave the Cowboys the lead for good. CB Morris Claiborne took a Brown fumble 50 yards for another score, one that proved to be important when Eagles PR Damaris Johnson took a Brian Moorman punt 98 yards for a score. Dallas recovered the subsequent onside kick to escape with the win. Romo's three touchdown passes allowed him to pass Troy Aikman for most touchdown passes in franchise history.

This season, Dallas faces a Philadelphia team that's vastly different from it's previous incarnation. Surely you've heard of new head coach Chip Kelly's offense, called "revolutionary" one week and a "failed experiment" the next. The Eagles began the season 1-3, but have used a couple of no-win teams (the Giants and Buccaneers) to their advantage. Despite their dreadful strength of schedule (their other win came against the one-win Redskins), the Eagles do seem like legitimate contenders. The Eagles lead the NFL in rushing yards at 178.5 per game, headlined by RB LeSean McCoy. McCoy has already tallied 630 yards on the season (tops in the league), including 116 yards on Tampa Bay last week, his 3rd 100 yard game of the season. The Cowboys rushing game has been hit or miss this season. For every performance the rush defense has had against Jamaal Charles (16 carries, 55 yards) and Alfred Morris (15 carries, 36 yards, not including a 45 yards TD run), they'll have a no show against guys like Danny Woodhead (86 total yards, 2 TD's) and Knowshon Moreno (150 total yards, 1 TD). They'll have to another standout game the defense to stop McCoy, a task all the more difficult with DeMarcus Ware possibly out (originally projected to miss 3-4 weeks with a quad injury, Ware revealed this week he'll be a game time decision). Plenty of names stepped it up on defense for the Cowboys last Sunday night, namely DL Kyle Wilber, who had a key sack and fumble recovery deep in Washington territory, and Orlando Scandrick, who intercepted a pass in the Dallas end zone.

While Michael Vick (hamstring) will not play on Sunday, let's face it, QB Nick Foles, who will face the Cowboys for the third time in his young career,  isn't that bad. In the first meeting, Foles, seeing his first ever NFL action after Vick went down with an injury, threw the key interception to Carr, but had a solid performance (22-32, 219 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). He was even better in the second meeting, going 22-34 for 251 yards and 1 TD in his third career start. He's also coming off probably the best game of his career against Tampa Bay, going 22-31 for 296 yards with 3 TD's (good for a career high 133.3 rating). He also has yet to throw an interception this season, so it's imperative that the secondary cause some turnovers. The defense looked spotty against Washington (allowing 433 yards), but there was a key difference between the Denver loss and the Washington win. Whereas in the Broncos game they failed to force Denver into punting even once, the Cowboys forced Redskins P Sav Rocca to send it off three times. With a returner like Dwayne Harris, that's extremely important. In addition, when the Redskins did get into Cowboys territory, they were mainly forced into Kai Forbath field goals rather than Robert Griffin touchdowns.

With the obvious exception of his historical performance against the Broncos, Romo has been held to a conservative approach so far this season. It's been mostly successful for the most part, as Romo's turnovers have seen a dramatic decline, but the loss of DeMarco Murray, ruled doubtful with an knee injury, means that Romo will have to put the team on his back this week. If Murray misses the game, the remaining options aren't pretty. Rookie Joseph Randle had a touchdown last week, but other than that was very unimpressive (11 carries, 17 yards), while Phillip Tanner wasn't exactly eye-catching when Murray got hurt last year (25 carries, 61 yards in 2012). Romo has played some of the most important games of his career against Philadelphia, and the results are polarizing. Sometimes he'll look amazing (23-35, 244 yards, 2 TD's in the 2010 NFC Wild Card game, a 34-14 win), and other times he'll look dreadful (21-39, 183 yards, 0 TD's, 1 INT, in a 44-6 season ending loss that cost the Cowboys a playoff spot). Obviously, with Murray out, Romo will be called upon for increased production in a game, despite being played before Halloween, that could have major playoff implications.

Obviously, any win over the Eagles is a big win. But a win here would be huge for the 2013 Cowboys. If the Cowboys seek to return to the playoffs since that magical three game sweep against the Eagles in 2009-10, they're going to need more wins. Since that mini-playoff run, the Cowboys have had difficulty stringing together consistent winning streaks, indicated by their twin 8-8 records over the past two seasons. As I mentioned last week, moral victories are fine and all, but the NFL doesn't count those toward making the playoffs. Philadelphia's increasingly soft schedule (a trip to Oakland follows a rematch with the Giants next week) only increases the need to beat the Eagles now. With the state of both defenses, (Philadelphia allows even more yards per game than the Cowboys) this game will likely end up being a shootout. And if that happens, I'm going to trust Tony Romo over Nick Foles right now, thank you very much.Cowboys-vs-Eagles

Prediction: Cowboys 41, Eagles 37


Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: DeMarcus Lawrence Silences Doubters vs Eagles

Mauricio Rodriguez



Takeaway Tuesday: DeMarcus Lawrence Silences Doubters vs Eagles

Dallas Cowboys fans should be happy about the change of pace in the conversation surrounding America's Team. A week ago, the talk in Cowboys Nation was all about just how hot was Jason Garrett's seat. Three consecutive losses will do that to most fan bases. Fortunately, though, we can put a pin on that conversation for a while after the Cowboys handily defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 37-10 last Sunday Night.

It was a great team performance all around, but we should dive in to the specifics. Overall, it was a good win to claim the NFC East division lead as the Cowboys get ready to rest this upcoming bye week. Let's get to this week's takeaways!

Ezekiel Elliott Played His Best Game of the Year

The way Ezekiel Elliott ran versus the Eagles' defense reminded me of his rookie season. Elliott has had a pretty good season even though the Cowboys haven't leaned as much on the running game as they had the last few seasons.

Last Sunday, he accounted for 111 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards. But it wasn't about his total yardage. What was special was the way he juked defenders, broke tackles and fought for the dirty yards.

There was a fire about #21 and I'm sure Cowboys Nation is just as excited as I am to watch it. He truly was something versus the Eagles.

Mauricio Rodriguez ✭ on Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott's best game of the season BY FAR. Look at this chart from Next Gen Stats. Green lines mean 5+ yards gained or touchdown.

Not to mention, Elliott was extremely effective as he found multiple ways to have 5+ yard run after 5+ yard run. Simply put, an impressive performance from the Cowboys superstar running back.

DeMarcus Lawrence Silenced Doubters

I don't know if it was his huge contract that turned many fans against DeMarcus Lawrence early in the season, but the Cowboys' defensive end managed to silence doubters against the Eagles. On his way to one sack and one forced fumble, Lawrence dominated in the trenches.

He was solid versus the run and kept pressuring Carson Wentz all game long.

The Checkdown on Twitter

DeMarcus Lawrence coming in HOT 🔥🔥 @TankLawrence

The truth is that D-Law has played well this offseason, but constant double-teams and the lack help from the interior defensive linemen have kept his box score stats down. However, when you look at more advanced metrics such as pass-rush productivity, you'll notice Lawrence is still playing at a very high level.

His play versus the Eagles proved that to many fans watching at home.

I was intrigued by the Cowboys lining him up against the Eagles' LT, trying to exploit the fact that Jason Peters was out injured. I wonder if Rod Marinelli continues to look for favorable match-ups in the future and keeps moving him around occasionally.

Amari Cooper Continues to Feast on the Philadelphia Eagles 2

Amari Cooper is Fine

After Amari Cooper's quad injury against the New York Jets, reports emerged on him being in "terrible pain." Many doubted he'd even play against the Philadelphia Eagles but he did, along other key players who were dealing with injuries too. In his return to the field, Cooper led the Cowboys receiving core with 106 yards in only five receptions (five targets).

Once again, his route running was on full display. He managed to burn a secondary that has been far from great this year. The Cowboys needed him to show up, and he delivered. He even caught a 44 yard pass when he absolutely destroyed Eagles DB Rasul Douglas on a double-move. Cooper would also have a diving jaw-dropping catch later in the game.

It's fair to assume he's healthy and ready to go for the rest of the season.

Cowboys Run Defense Still an Issue

Takeaways and a strong defensive performance against the pass secured the win for the Cowboys, but the run defense continues to be a problem for Rod Marinelli's unit. The Eagles running backs combined for 103 rushing yards and Dallas was beaten in the trenches a handful of times on this game.

The linebackers looked drastically better, and Leighton Vander Esch had his best half this season so far. Fortunately, it seems like his injury isn't serious enough for him to miss any additional playing time.

However, there were a handful of plays in which the Cowboys' defensive tackles were pushed around again. If I had to choose one position to upgrade, I wouldn't hesitate to address the interior defensive line. It's a problem.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: DeMarcus Lawrence Silences Doubters vs Eagles" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Game Notes

This Defensive Drive Sealed the Game for the Dallas Cowboys

John Williams



This Defensive Drive Sealed the Game for the Dallas Cowboys 3

Things couldn't have started off any better for a Dallas Cowboys team that was desperately in need of a fast start in this pivotal week seven matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. In the midst of a three-game losing streak, tied atop the NFC East at 3-3 with the Eagles, and hosting their division rival on Sunday Night Football, the Cowboys needed to put their best foot forward early in this game.

After a couple of fumbles recovered by the Dallas defense, the Cowboys jumped out to a 14-0 lead by the midway point of the first quarter. In a two-score hole early in this contest, the Philadelphia Eagles came out guns blazing on their third offensive series of the game and marched right down the field in seven plays, aided by a couple of personal foul calls, and brought the game to within a score.

At 14-7, the Dallas Cowboys offense was then forced to punt on the ensuing drive setting the Philadelphia Eagles up with an opportunity to tie the game in the second quarter if they were able to put a drive together. Getting the score even in the first half after pretty much gifting the Cowboys with a two-touchdown lead early would be a huge momentum swing in the game and provide the Eagles with a ton of confidence.

The Dallas Cowboys defense, however, wouldn't allow that to happen.

With the Eagles pinned back on their own 10-yard line after a Chris Jones punt, the Dallas Cowboys defense went to work with some excellent team defense and individual open field tackling performances on three plays that led to a Philadelphia Eagles three and out.

On first and 10 from their own 10-yard line, the Eagles attempted to run Jordan Howard through the right side of the line. There was nowhere to go on the play as Maliek Collins got excellent penetration into the left "A gap" making first contact behind the line of scrimmage and getting an assist from DeMarcus Lawrence to finish off the run stop for just a one-yard gain.

This Defensive Drive Sealed the Game for the Dallas Cowboys 2With a failed first-down run, the Eagles were set up with a 2nd and 9 at their own 11-yard line for the first play of the second quarter. Here they run Jordan Howard off of left tackle on a shotgun sweep handoff and he's able to pick up a nice bit of yardage to set up 3rd and 4.

This Defensive Drive Sealed the Game for the Dallas Cowboys 1To me, this was a huge third-down play for the Dallas Cowboys defense. On their previous drive, they had just given up a touchdown and needed to find a way to get of the field. If the Eagles are able to pick this up, it continues to put pressure on the defense and Philadelphia has some momentum.

Needing just four yards for the first down, the Eagles had both run and pass options at their disposal. As the Eagles are in have a tight bunch on the left side, the Cowboys have seven into the box to face six blockers, including the tight end who has a wider than normal split from the left tackle. Jeff Heath is the seventh man and on the snap is able to remain untouched as Carson Wentz hands off to Miles Sanders and snakes his way through the mass of humanity to stop the running back just shy of the first down.

This Defensive Drive Sealed the Game for the Dallas CowboysThey had the play fairly well blocked, but nobody accounts for Heath who is able to stay clean and track down Miles Sanders before he's able to get to the first down marker.

In a game that had a ton of highlights, this was a play that may go unnoticed when people talk about the outcome of this game but was huge given the current game situation. The Dallas Cowboys needed to get a stop on defense.

The Philadelphia Eagles attempted to attack the Dallas Cowboys' defense on the ground on this drive, which has been an area of vulnerability for the Cowboys in 2019. Their attempt to ground and pound in order to gain some momentum and reassert themselves in the game didn't come to fruition because the Cowboys defenders rallied well to the football on three straight running plays. The Dallas Cowboys turned a weakness into a strength on this drive and did their part to help the offense put the game away early.

After forcing the three and out, something the Dallas Cowboys defense doesn't do a lot of this year, the offense was able to take the ball and go on a 12 play, 71-yard drive for a touchdown that took nearly seven minutes off the clock. The Cowboys were able to go up two touchdowns again on their division rival and pretty much put the game out of reach, but it wouldn't have been so had the defense not stepped up and forced the three and out on this early second-quarter drive.

The defense played arguably their best game of the season on Sunday Night Football on a night where they desperately needed to play their best game of the year. There are still nine games to go and have a pretty rough seven-game stretch coming out of the bye starting with another divisional matchup on the road against the New York Giants in week nine. If the Dallas Cowboys defense can show this kind of consistency against the run moving forward, they'll be very difficult to beat.

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Game Notes

The Brady Report: Cowboys’ Fast Start Dooms Eagles

Kevin Brady



The Brady Report: Cowboys' Fast Start Dooms Eagles

It's been nothing but doom and gloom around the Dallas Cowboys in recent weeks. After a 3-0 start propelled them towards the top of the league's elite, three straight disappointing losses had fans wondering if it was time for a regime change at head coach.

They went into Sunday night's game with the Eagles needing a win to salvage hope at earning a playoff spot, and boy did they answer the bell. The Cowboys dominated the Philadelphia Eagles from the opening snap, routing their hated rivals 37-10 and improving to 4-3 on the season.

Let's get into my game notes from this overwhelmingly positive performance.

  • Let's start with the quarterback. Dak Prescott was tremendous yet again on Sunday night, and we're getting to the point where his sample size of positive play is too large to ignore. Prescott was 21 of 27 for 239 yards and a touchdown (and an interception as well), but he also had a rushing touchdown to add to his totals. Prescott has complete control of the offense, and even checked out of a negative box count to exploit the Eagles blitz look down in the red zone. He leads the league in QBR this season, and he is the unquestioned franchise quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. As he should be.
  • Sticking with praise on offense, Ezekiel Elliott looked like Zeke on Sunday night. From his very first carry you could tell Elliott was running with a different burst and energy than we'd seen in recent weeks, and he later ran right over Malcolm Jenkins to set up the team's second score of the game. Elliott was impossible to bring down all night, to the tune of 111 yards and a touchdown on 5 yards per carry.
  • La'el Collins has been incredible this season, and Sunday was no different. The Cowboys recently extended right tackle shut Brandon Graham down for basically the entire night, and kept Prescott upright and comfortable in the pocket. Tyron Smith was clearly not healthy or himself on the other side, but the rest of this offensive line picked up the slack and had their best performance since the season opener.
  • Connor Williams deserves a shoutout as well. He was getting off double teams to the second level and cutting linebackers off to clear rushing lanes for Zeke all night long.
  • Defensively, the Cowboys had their best performance of 2019. They hadn't been able to force turnovers all season, but they came away with four in this week's win. Xavier Woods' interception of Wentz might've spoken the loudest, as it proved how good this defense can be when the game script is working in their favor. When things go according to plan early for this team, they have the talent to take total control and dominate.
  • Jourdan Lewis was inserted into the starting lineup due to injury, and he was awesome from the opening snap. Lewis came away with a big sack on Caron Wentz and had 4 tackles overall as well. Byron Jones returned from the injury he suffered a week ago, and was back to his old shutdown ways. Jones is clearly the best cornerback on this team, and is one of the better corners in all of football. When he's healthy and playing as he did during Sunday's win, few have an argument over him.
  • DeMarcus Lawrence also had his best game of 2019, creating consistent pressure on Wentz throughout the night. His biggest play, of course, was his sack fumble which set the Cowboys up for a 14-0 lead just two possessions into the game. Lawrence has been taking a lot of heat from the fanbase in recent weeks, but he responded in a big way on Sunday.
  • Those are the linebackers I remember from 2018. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were all over the field during this game, and Sean Lee had a pretty nice game as well once Vander Esch went down. Lee and Smith each finished with 7 tackles, and Smith forced the Eagles' first fumble of the night on their opening drive. Lee made a nice play on the ball on a late fourth down throw that easily could've been an interception as well.

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