What a terrible game. The Dallas Cowboys had a chance to beat a depleted Philadelphia Eagles team and they just weren’t up to the task. The offense completely disappeared, and while the defense played well overall, they couldn’t make key stops when they needed them the most. Even with a make-shift crew of receivers, Carson Wentz and company made the plays they needed to make to get the big win on Sunday, and likely a division title awaits them next week.
Here are ten thoughts on this sickening loss to the Eagles.
1. Dak was off target
Dak Prescott has been the better quarterback on the season, but on this day it was the Eagles quarterback that showed up to play. Carson Wentz was 31 for 40 for 319 yards with an 8.0 average. It was a very efficient showing by the Eagles quarterback.
Things were not so good for Prescott. He finished the game 24 for 44 for 265 yards. All eyes were on his throwing ability after news broke early last week that he suffered a shoulder injury in the game against the Los Angeles Rams. While his velocity looked okay, Prescott was off target on many of his throws. Many passes were behind his targets and a few times the passes were just too high for his receivers to catch.
The most frustrating part was when the Cowboys receivers had blown by their defender, only to have Prescott misfire on the throw. There were multiple chances to complete touchdown plays on deep throws, but Prescott was just too far off with his passes.
2. Slipping through your hands
Not everything was Prescott’s fault in the passing game as several times in this game his receivers just couldn’t hold on to the ball. Everyone contributed to the drop-fest that was on display Sunday as the Cowboys receivers dropped a total of six passes in this game. Blatant drops by Jason Witten and Amari Cooper stalled drives in the first half, and a ball when through the hands of Michael Gallup on a potential game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. It was ridiculous.
Both the Cowboys and Eagles entered the game as two of the worst teams when it comes to dropping passes, and Dallas did their part to make sure they stayed there.
No QB has seen his receivers drop more passes than Dak Prescott pic.twitter.com/zY6FpH2dhb— PFF (@PFF) December 20, 2019
3. Laying up short
There is nothing more frustrating to see third-down passes repeatedly thrown short of the third-down marker, but that’s exactly what Prescott was doing in the first half. What was that about? Was his shoulder bothering him more than we realized?
With an Eagles secondary who are vulnerable to big passing plays, this was very difficult to sit through. Whether it be short dump offs to Ezekiel Elliott or Jason Witten, Prescott just wasn’t looking up the field. And why was he looking Dalton Schultz’ way? It’s understandable for the Eagles to be going to their third-string tight end considering how depleted their receiving core is, but Dallas? That’s just asinine.
He eventually started airing it out out of necessity as the Cowboys got behind by two scores, but early on - everything was going short.
4. Keep away
The Cowboys only had 14 yards of offense in the first quarter. Of course, it’s hard to tally up the yards when you don’t keep the ball very long. The Eagles offense was able to string together some long drives, whereas the Cowboys struggled to move the sticks. At the half, the Eagles held a 2:1 time of possession advantage as the Dallas offense was on the field for less than 10 minutes. And considering their only two first-half scores were field goals, that’s really not going to cut it.
Things didn’t get much better in the second half at the Eagles continued to control the clock. Philadelphia finished the game with almost 13 more minutes of possession.
5. Go-to Gallup
When Dak did decide to throw it deeper than 10 yards, his favorite target was second-year receiver Michael Gallup. After two straight three-and-outs, the Cowboys offense finally got a first down when Prescott hit Gallup for a 41-yard pass down the sideline. The ball was under-thrown and Gallup had to stop and fight of Eagles corner Ronald Darby who had caught up to him, but that’s exactly what he did. A better throw there and that’s a touchdown, but at least it helped the Cowboys get points. While the drive stalled three plays later, the yardage allowed them to get close enough for Kai Forbath to kick a 49-yard field goal.
Gallup finished the game with five catches for 98 yards. While there weren’t too many good plays to be excited about in this one, when there was - it was usually Gallup making them.
6. Forbath making it count
Even though it looked horrendous leaving his foot, the Cowboys new kicker somehow found a way to finagle the ball through the uprights. The offense was terrible moving the ball, but it was nice to at least come away with some points in the first half that kept the team near the Eagles. All the points the Cowboys had in this game were courtesy of Forbath.
The usually reliable Jake Elliott wasn’t quite as accurate. He missed a 49-yarder late in the first half that gave the Cowboys great field position. A couple nice pass plays and the Cowboys were in set up in position to Forbath to knock down his second field goal of the game. Elliott missed a 55-yard attempt in the fourth quarter that gave the Cowboys life. It turned out to be moot, but at least this wasn’t a game we could blame on the kicker.
7. Dallas shreds Dallas
With a completely obliterated receiving corps, how in the world could the Eagles put up over 300 yards through the air? Well, almost a third of them came courtesy of their tight end. And no, we’re not talking about Zach Ertz.
Second-year tight end Dallas Goedert caught nine passes for 91 yards, including a touchdown. Even with Ertz leaving the game at one point with a rib injury, the Eagles kept finding ways to move the sticks and Goedert was a big part of that.
8. Resilient Eagles
You have to give the Eagles credit for showing up and making plays on Sunday. They smothered Ezekiel Elliott early on and put the game in the hands of Prescott. While they were aided by some self-inflicted gaffes by the Cowboys, Philadelphia brought a lot of fight and never allowed the Cowboys to get into a rhythm.
Wentz, for all the fun we make about him at times, played extremely well. He completed over 75% of his passes and made some really good decisions with the ball. Even his trademark fumble he has in each game didn’t hurt them as he was able to jump on it right away. It was a good performance and you have to tip your cap to him.
9. Last hurrah for Garrett?
Despite being on the road, the Cowboys were favorites to win this one. And even though things have been rocky this season, Dallas has always been alive as they’ve done just enough to keep their season alive. That may no longer be the case.
The Cowboys were off balance and they just weren’t in a good position to make plays. Sure, there were plenty of execution issues, but the Eagles brought more physicality to this game with the division on the line.
Everyone has their own different bar as to what it would take for Jason Garrett to keep his job as head coach, but missing the playoffs certainly doesn’t bode well.
10. There’s still hope
Nobody wants to hear this after such a repulsive defeat, but the Cowboys are still alive for the playoffs. They need to beat the Washington Redskins next week and get help from the New York Giants. That may seem bleak, but the Giants had a good showing today as they’ve now won two-straight and their offense has put up 77 total points in those games.
The Eagles struggle with consistency and remain banged up. While they played great on Sunday, they’re going to have to do it all again next week.