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Three positions breakdown, key to loss

There are three positions that you can pin the Philadelphia loss on. I know the old cliché about "win as a team, lose as a team", but that's for players and coaches. As a fan and as a neo-journalist, I'm going to lay the blame at the feet of three:

The offensive line:

Drew Bledsoe was sacked a season-high seven times, but the quarterback took a physical beating on top of the sacks.


Three times the Eagles' defense hit Bledsoe's arm as he was throwing, leading to one interception (by Brian Dawkins) and a near interception (by Lito Sheppard).


The offensive line had problems with stunts, spins and swim moves by the Eagles' defensive line. Cowboys center Andre Gurode said the Eagles didn't spin as much in previous games.

"They are a pretty good defense," Gurode said. "They get off the ball well, and they forced Drew [Bledsoe] to step up in the pocket."

Howard had two sacks and two quarterback hurries. He also forced a fumble.

The secondary:

The Cowboys' secondary had its worst performance of the season Sunday. It allowed touchdown passes of 87 and 40 yards. It gave up five pass plays of 20 or more yards and six of 10 or more.

Rookie Patrick Watkins was benched in the fourth quarter and was on the sideline softly banging his helmet against his forehead.

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb completed 18 of 33 passes for 354 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions.

More secondary:

They can look at the 87-yard touchdown catch by Hank Baskett in the third quarter. Outside linebacker Greg Ellis had his hands on Donovan McNabb after the snap but couldn't take him down. Rookie safety Pat Watkins, anticipating a short throw, was unable to catch up to Baskett.

Then there was the 40-yard flea-flicker to Reggie Brown for a touchdown that gave the Eagles a 31-24 lead with 9:13 to play. Watkins and Roy Williams were in position to knock the pass away but stumbled and missed awkwardly.

"I think he outwitted me a little bit," Watkins said. "He made it seem like the play was going away and at the last second he put his hands up."


With 31 seconds to play, Drew Bledsoe - battered and beaten all game - looked in the end zone and saw Jason Witten. His throw was to the outside, and the tight end turned inside. Instead of a tying touchdown, Philadelphia cornerback Lito Sheppard intercepted the pass and returned it 102 yards for a game-clinching score.


At the Philadelphia 33 with 7:30 to play, Owens got behind Sheppard at the line, but Bledsoe's throw was well short and was picked off by Sheppard at the 7.

"I think we might have had a shot at it if we would have got it [the throw] down to the end zone," Parcells said.

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