So I just finished the unenviable task of watching the game film. There were a lot of mistakes in this game across the board, but it still comes down to the offensive line, the quarterback and the secondary. So I'll examine those areas separately, and then conclude with a cursory look at some of the other positions.
Offensive line Sometimes the offensive line just blew their assignments, and other times they got physically beat. Flozell Adams had an awful game. On the first play of the second series, Dallas lined up in a 5-wide, empty backfield set. The play was designed to be a quick pass to JJ in the right flats. The Eagles blitzed on the play and Flozell had two guys to block as Kosier blocked down to pick up a middle blitz. Because it was a 3-step drop and the pass was going to the right flats, Flozell needed to block down and let the outside guy go free because he wouldn't have had time to get to Bledsoe. But Flozell didn't block anyone and reached out at that last second to try and block the inside guy, he whiffed and the inside defensive tackle ran through the line untouched, hit Drew and caused the fumble. This was indicative of Flozell's play all night. He did the exact same thing on another play later in the first half and Drew had to throw the ball away to avoid a sack. In the second half he did it again and this time it led to a sack. Three times he blew the assignment in the exact same way, and he got beat on a straight speed rush for a sack. Adams also whiffed on at least three run blocks in the game
Kyle Kosier also had problems in the game. His main issue was twice the Eagles ran a crossing stunt on his side of the line and both times Kosier stayed with his man instead of breaking off and picking up the inside guy. This led to Kosier and Adams double-teaming the inside guy who was pushing outside, while the outside guy who looped inside ran free to the quarterback. One time led to Bledsoe's arm getting hit and an interception, the other time Bledsoe had to throw the ball away. Another time he combined with the rest of the line in a total line breakdown that led to another sack.
Marco Rivera was also guilty of bad pass protection. He got beat straight up on a play where there was no blitz, his man hit Bledsoe's arm and almost caused an interception. He was guilty along with the rest of the line on a complete breakdown that led to another sack. He made an awful block on an attempted screen to Marion Barber and had a couple of terrible run blocks.
Andre Gurode wasn't awful, but he didn't play up to the level of his previous games this season. He did an OK job of picking up the numerous middle blitzes that the Eagles ran (most of the problem on those blitzes were Kosier and Adams), but he did get beat a couple of times in normal pass protection. He also missed a key block on a linebacker on JJ's successful screen that might have broken JJ open for a TD. Instead, we settled for a FG on the drive.
The guy who shows up with the fewest mistakes in the game was Marc Colombo. He did have a couple of bad run blocks but was mostly successful in pass protection. But most of the Eagles stunts and blitzes targeted the other side of the line.
After spending the last few weeks praising the offensive line for their good communication in picking up stunts and blitzes, they dropped the ball this week. The most exasperating thing about it was that the Eagles kept running the same stunts and blitzes and we couldn't stop them.
Secondary Terence Newman and Aaron Glenn had pretty good games. The other three, Anthony Henry, Roy Williams and Pat Watkins were either OK or awful. Henry wasn't awful, but he did get beat a few times for big gains by playing soft in coverage. It was an average game from him and would have gone unnoticed had the Cowboys won. Roy Williams was bad. He let L.J. Smith run right past him for a wide-open 60-yard catch that set up a touchdown. It was definitely a mental error, as there was no one behind him to pick Smith up. Watkins was rolling to the other side to help Henry. Update [2006-10-9 15:20:24 by Grizz]: Coach Parcells says it wasn't Roy's fault on that play, but didn't say who was at fault. I stand corrected. [END UPDATE] Roy also took a terrible angle on the flea-flicker touchdown pass, and even though it wasn't his man, he could've gotten into position to stop the pass or even pick it off.
Pat Watkins had two major gaffes that led to huge plays for the Eagles. They were so noticeable that everyone has already seen them. He bit on a short pass fake against Hank Baskett, then couldn't recover as Baskett blew by him, then couldn't make the tackle when he finally did catch him. I'm not sure why the Cowboys decided to gamble with a cornerback blitz on the play and leave Watkins exposed like they did, but if you're back there you have to make the play. (Greg Ellis should've had the sack on the play anyway). On the flea-flicker he bit on the fake, then recovered enough to be in the endzone with Reggie Brown, but didn't make a play on the ball. Tough night for the rookie who got benched at the end in favor of Keith Davis. One positive for Watkins is he did cause Westbrook's fumble early in the game.
Quarterback Nothing engenders as much emotion and opinion as the play of Drew Bledsoe. To be fair to Drew, he was under intense pressure most of the night. He was sacked 7 times, and only a couple of those were his fault from holding the ball too long. On the others, the line let players come through basically untouched. If you're getting hit on a 3-step drop, something is seriously wrong with your blocking. The Cowboys were still in position to tie the game up late in the 4th quarter but Bledsoe made two huge mistakes. He grossly underthrew a pass to Terrell Owens that would've been a sure touchdown if he just got it out there; instead, it was an interception. He also threw the killer interception at the very end, although there are conflicting reports about Jason Witten's pattern and whether he ran the wrong one. Still, the pass looked off-target and it went right into the hands of the Eagles defender. In a situation like that, the quarterback has to be sure of what he's doing and you can't, under any circumstances, throw an interception. The play that was really stupid on that drive was when Drew held the ball forever even though the line gave him good protection and ended up taking a sack. He did the same thing on the last play of the first half. It's those kinds of plays that drive his coaches and fans to madness.
When Bledsoe did get time, he was still a little uneven. He threw an awful intentional grounding penalty early in the game and he missed a couple of open receivers. On the plus side, he scored a touchdown and picked up a first down on scrambles.
There was some good news on the night. Julius Jones reached 100 yards for the second consecutive game and the line did a pretty good job in opening holes for him. Julius is still running hard and looks to be rounding into a feature back that you can trust. Also, the defensive line was excellent at stopping the run. If the secondary had pitched in with just an average night, the Eagles would've been in real trouble. Finally, the play of DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis shows what the defense is capable of. Ellis had 1.5 sacks and caused the fumble that Ware ran for the touchdown, and Ware also got a sack.
The Cowboys pretty much abandoned their base 3-4 for long stretches from the middle of the 3rd quarter and went to the nickel because the Eagles couldn't run on them in any formation. They also abandoned the 5-wide, empty backfield set after it became obvious they couldn't block the Eagles from that formation. By my count, they ran it 3 times and had poor results including a sack and a Bledsoe fumble. One question that needs to be asked of Parcells is why we didn't try more shotgun formation.