The stage was set for the Dallas Cowboys to take a two game lead in the NFC East. While the now 1-3 Washington Redskins did pull a comeback victory on the Oakland Raiders, - a Raiders team that was missing Terrelle Pryor. Both the
New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles were humiliated in their respective road games, also against AFC West teams. With the way the division was looking, a two game lead could be insurmountable.
The Cowboys were shut out in the second half by a San Diego Chargers defense that ranked 31st in the league coming into the game. The offense managed only 317 yards in the 30-21 defeat.
Perhaps Monte Kiffin's mind was on his son Lane's firing from the head coaching job at USC hours earlier, but that's no excuse for the attempt at def
ense his unit put up on Sunday. The Chargers picked up 506 yards of total offense in the win, and made Philip Rivers look like Dan Fouts. Rivers finished the day 35-of-42 for 401 yards with 3 touchdown passes to earn a magnificent 120.3 rating on the day. Equally vital to the Chargers' efforts was RB Danny Woodhead. The former Patriot tallied 104 yards though receiving, rushing, and a kick return and scored two touchdowns.
The Cowboys seemed to be in control of the game after the 2nd quarter. Trailing 7-0 after a 1st quarter that featured Woodhead's first touchdown, via a 26 yard strike from Rivers, the Cowboys scored all of their 21 points in the frame. QB Tony Romo found WR Dez Bryant for two scores, which bookended San Diego's 36-yard field goal by Nick Novak. Following Bryant's first score, which came from five yards out, the Cowboys forced the Chargers to punt on the ensuing drive. Dwayne Harris returned the punt into Charger te
rritory. Following a three and out, the Cowboys faced a 4th and 6 on the San Diego 38. Head coach Jason Garrett elected to have D
an Bailey try a 56 yard field goal, despite the fact that Bailey's career long is 53 yards. Bailey missed the field goal, an
rst half's final drive, which ended with another Novak field goal, this one from 42 yards out. It didn't seem important at the time, but the failure to stop the Chargers at the end of the half would come back to shock the Cowd the Chargers, taking advantage of a short field, drove to the Dallas 18 where Novak split the uprights. Shortly after the two minute warning, LB Sean Lee caught a errant Rivers
boys (no pun intended).ass, brought on by pressure from Jason Hatcher, and took it 52 yards for the score to put Dallas up 21-10. Rivers recovered from the turnover to lead the fi
Receiving the ball to start the second half, the Chargers drove 80 yards in 10 plays on a 5 and a half minute drive that ended in Woodhead's second touchdown of the day. Woodhead blew past Cowboys LB Bruce Carter, and Rivers easily found him from 13 yards out to shrink the Dallas lead to one. After another Cowboys punt, the Chargers again drove deep into Cowboys territory. They were held to another Novak field goal, this one from 23 yards, but earned a 23-21
lead they would not give back. After getting the ball back through yet another Chris Jones punt, the Chargers stuck the dagger in the Cowboys with a 56 yard hook up between Rivers and TE Antonio Gates that made it a two possession game. Gates would finish with 8 recpetions for 136 yards. Romo and the offense almost made it interesting, but rookie WR Terrence Williams fumbled at the San Diego one-yard line, stripped by CB Crezdon Butler. CB Richard Marshall recovered in the end zone, and the Chargers ran out most of the clock it to ice the game. Williams's fu
mble rendered an 11 play, 78 yard drive useless.
The Cowboys offense has been marketed as being more conservative, and both the positives and negatives of this philosophy exposed themselves on Sunday. Romo did have a solid game (27-37, 244 yards, 2 TD's, 0 INT's), and he did not turn the ball over. However, in this new cautious approach, Romo has seemed to forget his ability to throw deep downfield. He found six different receivers for at least one reception each on Sunday, but none of them had over 100 yards, and his longest throw was the 34 yard Bryant touchdown that only went so far because of Bryant's run after the catch. While the system has its benefits...Romo has thrown just one interception this year and ranks 2nd in the NFL in completions.
n percentage (72.2%) behind only Peyton Manning...it wouldn't hurt the Dallas offense if Romo reverted to his gunslinger approach from time to time. Through the first four games, he has yet to record a 300 yard performance. It certainly didn't help that once things started to turn sour that the Cowboys abandoned the run game. Coming off a 175 yard performance against the Rams, RB DeMarco Murray ran for 70 yards on just 14 carries. The offensive line did not help matters either, picking up key holding penalties at unwelcome times and allowing Romo to be sacked three times.
The loss is especially crippling for the Cowboys when one considers their next opponent, who just so happens be the Denver Broncos. The near-unanimous Super Bowl favorite in the AFC, the Broncos have skewered their previous two NFC East foes, dealing the Giants a 41-23 loss in the much hyped Manning Bowl before grounding the Eagles by a 52-20 score while the Cowboys were in California.
The good news is that the Cowboys are 2-0 thus far at AT&T Stadium this season, and have a knack for cooling off Peyton Manning. In his last two tilts against the Cowboys, both when he was a member of the Colts, Manning has struggled. In 2006, en route to his victory in Super Bowl XLI, Manning and the then 9-0 Colts made a stop to Dallas. In what was his only trip to Texas Stadium, Manning struggled, throwing two interceptions, one of which was returned by Kevin Burnett to tie the game. He did throw two touchdowns, but two touchdown runs by Marion Barber III were enough to give the Cowboys a 21-14 win over the perfect Colts. More recently, in 2010, Manning doubled his interception total from the last meeting, throwing four picks against a 3-8 Cowboys team at Lucas Oil Stadium. Though he would lead the Colts back from a 17-0 deficit, Manning threw a game-sealing pick to Lee, the former Nittany Lion's second of the day, in overtime that set up David Buehler's game winning field goal in a 38-35 victory.
The bad news is...this Manning just might be better.
Check back Thursday for my Cowboys-Broncos preview!
DAL 27, PHI 7: Cowboys Winning Every Phase, Build Big Halftime Lead
The Dallas Cowboys certainly heard about Doug Pederson's win guarantee, but did anyone tell Pederson's team? The Philadelphia Eagles have fumbled and flopped their way into a 24-7 halftime deficit in this pivotal Week 7 rivalry game.
Two early fumbles by Dallas Goedert and Carson Wentz helped set up the Cowboys for short fields and touchdowns. Dallas has scored points on all but one of their drives in the first half.
Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for his best game of 2019 so far. He has 65 rushing yards and another 25 through the air, with one touchdown coming on the ground.
Dak Prescott has been sharp with 161 passing yards on 15-of-20 passing. He connected with Blake Jarwin on the team's second touchdown of the night.
Dallas' other touchdown came on a pretty toss play to Tavon Austin, who used his athletic skills to juke one Eagle and then outrace the rest to the endzone.
Brett Maher finished the half with an amazing 63-yard field goal. He also made one from 26 yards earlier.
Standouts on defense so far include DeMarcus Lawrence, who is playing up to his verbal response to the Eagles' head coach earlier this week. We've also some big plays from Maliek Collins, Jourdan Lewis, and Robert Quinn.
Leighton Vander Esch had to leave the game with a neck injury and is questionable to return. Hopefully, the Cowboys won't need him.
Great start by the good guys! Let's keep it going!
Eagles @ Cowboys 2019: Gameday Inactives for Both Teams
Kickoff between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7 of the 2019 season is almost upon us. The teams have now officially declared their inactive players for tonight, and the Cowboys' list comes with many sighs of relief.
After a week of worrying that several starters and other key players could miss this pivotal game, Dallas should have most of them on hand.
Cowboys inactives: Devin Smith, Anthony Brown, Luke Gifford, Adam Redmond, Brandon Knight, Justin Hamilton, Dorance Armstrong.
Losing Anthony Brown, who is essentially a starter as the nickel corner, isn't great. But it will mean more playing time for Jourdan Lewis, and to some that could be a blessing in disguise.
As for Philadelphia, their inactive list features several key names
Ronald Darby is active for the #Eagles. Rookie Shareef Miller active for the first time. The inactives for tonight's game against the Cowboys: DeSean Jackson, Avonte Maddox, Darren Sproles, Nigel Bradham, Nate Herbig, Jason Peters, Tim Jernigan.
You can read more analysis of the Eagles' missing players here. But just to summarize, that's two offensive starters(Jackson, Peters) and three from the defense (Jernigan, Bradham, Maddox) who won't be playing in Dallas tonight.
Will these injuries decide the game? Will Dallas take advantage or will Philly overcome?
We're about to find out!
Cowboys Wishlist: Let Tony Pollard and Blake Jarwin Play
Welcome to primetime. Tonight, the Philadelphia Eagles will play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium for an exciting NFC East matchup. The Cowboys are slightly favored for this one, but it will not be an easy game. Both teams sit at 3-3 and will fight for the division lead. It'll be an exciting night for Cowboys Nation.
Without further ado, let's get to this week's Cowboys Wishlist!
Wish #1: Everyone Plays
After a week of uncertainty regarding the health of several key players, the Cowboys are expected to play with both their staring offensive tackles, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, WR Amari Cooper and CB Byron Jones. That's certainly surprising, but it's great news to hear ahead of such an important game for the Cowboys.
On the other hand, the Philadelphia Eagles will miss plenty of starters including OT Jason Peters. Of course, nothing will be official for Dallas until the inactives are announced. I wish the inactives list matches early reports of these key players being expected to play.
Wish #2: Return to Exploiting Play-Action
There's no way around it. The Cowboys were being very successful using play-action during the first three weeks of the season, being among the NFL teams to use it the most. For some reason, though, they seem to have walked away from it. Somehow, they figured out what was working and stopped doing it. Many have argued about how play-action works and whether or not the run must be established for it to work. Analytics suggest it doesn't work that way.
Anyway, the trend is pretty clear. Throughout the first three weeks, the Cowboys averaged play-action plays on 39.56% of their drop-backs. The last three weeks that average has been 17.3%.
It's hard to find an answer as to why this has happened to Kellen Moore's offense, but I wish they go back to what was working so effectively at the beginning of the season.
Wish #3: Let Dak Prescott Win The Game
Speaking of play-action, I truly believe Dak Prescott is the least of the Cowboys' problems right now. He's played pretty well and has shown how much of a warrior he is, specially last week when he took a beating from the New York Jets' defensive front.
I love what RB Ezekiel Elliott brings to the table, but the offense should rely on the passing game. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are a very solid duo of wide receivers and Dak Prescott has proven he can handle the job. I'd like to see the Cowboys putting the offense on Dak's back.
The Eagles secondary has been far from decent this season, with plenty of teams airing out against them. The key to this game is the passing game.
Wish #4: First Cowboys Drive Ends in TD
The Cowboys' slow starts have really been one of the biggest issues for this football team this season. Even when they were on a win streak and faced weak opponents, Jason Garrett's team started slow on both offense and defense. That could be the difference in such an important game for the Cowboys. It's time for them to start fast, and score fast.
The Cowboys' offense has been pretty good. In fact, they rank second in offensive DVOA on Football Outsiders. If they figure out how to score early - when game scripts matter the most - this unit could be special.
Wish #5: Let Tony Pollard and Blake Jarwin Play
The Cowboys have chosen to give Jason Witten the vast majority of the offensive snaps at TE this season. As a consequence, Blake Jarwin has seen the field less than he should. Through six weeks, he's only played in 38.1% of the offensive snaps. Jarwin is young and talented and has been good when given the chance. I hope his snap count increases today.
Similarly, I wish the Cowboys' give Tony Pollard a more important role. Instead of using him as much as they did in the first three weeks, his snap count percentage has dropped all the way down to 17.68%.
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