It was just a matter of time before the Dallas Cowboys had a letdown and all signs were pointing to it coming at the hands of their division rival Philadelphia Eagles. The birds entered the week as the league’s only undefeated team and that hasn’t changed as they beat the Cowboys 26-17 on Sunday night. Here are ten thoughts on the Cowboys' tough loss in Philly.
1. The Fowler foul-up
It appeared that the Cowboys had survived a good Eagles drive late in the first quarter after Jayron Kearse and Anthony Barr tackled A.J. Brown four yards short of the first down deep in Dallas territory. The Eagles wisely lined up as if they were going to go for it for the sole purpose of trying to draw the defense offsides, a move we’ve seen attempted countless times. Unfortunately, Dante Fowler took the cheese and jumped into the neutral zone. It was the one thing they weren’t supposed to do.
The penalty gave the Eagles a first down and they scored a touchdown on the very next play when running back Miles Sanders took it in from five yards out. Just like that, the Cowboys were down 7-0.
2. The no challenge
The Cowboys' offense needed to respond in a big way after the Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 lead. It looked as if the Cowboys got the first down at the 35-yard line when CeeDee Lamb extended his arm past the first-down yard mark. The officials gave Dallas a bad spot, but no big deal as the Cowboys could just challenge it and be awarded the first down. But no, it didn’t go down like that.
For some reason, the team hurried to the line of scrimmage and ran a play. They were unable to convert, giving the Eagles excellent field position. Obviously, the coaches upstairs didn’t signal Mike McCarthy to challenge the play, but in their defense, he didn’t give them much time. Why the Cowboys rushed that play is puzzling. Had the Cowboys challenged the play, it would have been overturned and Dallas would have been awarded the first down.
We all knew it would take a close-to-perfect game from the Cowboys to come away with the victory and it is absolutely inexcusable to make mistakes like this and give away a possession.
3. The Eagles 2nd quarter surge
The Eagles are a team that scores in spurts as sometimes they’ll go on a run and sometimes they’ll run dry. Philly went on the attack in the second quarter by scoring the first 20 points of the game all in the second quarter.
This put the Eagles' second-quarter total at 112 points so far this season. The NBC crew put up a graphic that stated that was the most points of any team in any quarter in a six-game span dating all the way back to the 1950 Rams.
4. So close
After being dominated for most of the first half, the Cowboys had a couple of opportunities to score a touchdown late in the second quarter. The Eagles had a 20-0 lead with just under two minutes left in the first half when kick returner KaVontae Turpin got loose. For a brief moment, it looked like he might take it to the house, but then he ran into his own player and was stopped at the Eagles' 41-yard line.
The Cowboys still had a chance to put a dent into the lead when the offense moved down the field, and for another brief moment, we thought they had their first touchdown of the game when Noah Brown made an incredible catch in the corner of the end zone. Sadly, replay showed that he didn’t get both feet in bounds and the touchdown was taken off the board. The Cowboys ran two more passes, both of which were incomplete and the team had to settle for a field goal.
5. It’s a game again
Going into a 20-point hole is not the way any team wants to start, but the Cowboys didn’t just lay down and die. With the three points the Cowboys got at the end of the first half combined with a touchdown on their first drive of the second half, the Cowboys quickly cut the lead in half. And when the defense came after Jalen Hurts on their next possession, it looked like the momentum had shifted.
6. The drive
After getting a key stop, the Cowboys started deep in their own territory at their own seven-yard line. What happened next was rather impressive.
With a series of positive plays that consisted of bootlegs to tight ends and physical runs by Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, the Cowboys' offense moved the ball. Rush was fantastic on this drive putting the ball right on the mark. The Cowboys capped off a 14-play, 93-yard drive when Rush found rookie tight end Jake Ferguson for a seven-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 20-17.
7. The Eagles strike back
Just when it looked like the Cowboys might take things over, the Eagles' offense finally came back alive. Through a series of strong runs through the middle, Philly put together a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to extend their lead to 26-17 (they failed to convert the two-point conversion).
The Cowboys had no choice but to sell out in the middle to keep the Eagles from running it down their throat, but that left just enough of an opportunity for Hurts to find DeVonta Smith for the touchdown reception.
8. Wide open Lamb
The Cowboys had one more chance to get back in the game, but they had to act quickly as they still trailed by nine points late in the fourth quarter. And they had their shot when CeeDee Lamb beat his defender down the sideline.
Unfortunately, pressure came around the edge as Brandon Graham got in the face of Rush just in time to cause the pass to fall way short and into the arms of the Eagles' safety. That’s your ballgame. Had Rush been able to put some stank on that throw that likely would have resulted in a Cowboys touchdown, cutting the lead to just two points.
9. There is no QB controversy in Dallas
The Cowboys have survived these less-than-flattering offensive performances largely due to not making mistakes. Backup Cooper Rush has been labeled a game manager for his ability to make smart decisions and not turn the ball over. On Sunday night, the no-pick streak ended as Rush threw not one, not two, but three interceptions.
Not that there ever was, but the Cowboys can’t win with half a team and a Cooper Rush offense isn’t built to keep up with the better teams in the league. It was a nice run, but this team is much better with Dak Prescott at the helm.
10. It gets easier
It’s tough to lose a key divisional game and the Cowboys now fall two games back of Philly. Even the hot New York Giants have managed to jump ahead of Dallas as they sit with a 5-1 record. That’s a tough card to be dealt, but things get a little easier.
The Cowboys go back home to play the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears who have three wins between them. And Dak Prescott will also return. The Eagles may have won this battle, but the Cowboys fought back and made it tough for them, and you have to like what the future holds when they get their starting quarterback back.