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Cowboys game ball: Jake Ferguson catches the Eagles slipping

The Cowboys rookie tight end sidesteps Eagles defenders and dashed away with this week’s game ball.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In the absence of Dalton Schultz, rookie tight end Jake Ferguson has had to grow up fast in the Dallas Cowboys offense. He’s shown progress along the way, but the way Ferguson played in the Cowboys’ 26-17 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles proves that he is fulfilling his potential.

Tasked with having to play more snaps against a tough opponent, the first-year tight end came up big on Sunday night. Flashing the potential that was talked about since being drafted, Ferguson caught many viewers’ attention against the Eagles and this week’s game ball.

The call to action

Facing an undefeated Eagles team, the Cowboys were well aware that to win they were going to need all hands on deck, especially on offense. The Cowboys’ offense has struggled to score throughout the season and sustain drives. With quarterback Dak Prescott on the mend, the Cowboys have sorely needed the pass catchers to make plays for backup Cooper Rush. Unfortunately, starting tight end Dalton Schultz was not going to be one of those options.

Although he practiced during the week leading up to the game, Schultz was ruled out of Sunday’s game. This left a sizable burden on the first-year tight end, Jake Ferguson, along with fellow rookie Peyton Hendershot to fill the void.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story

Ferguson’s stat line of four catches for 40 yards may appear to be tame, but it was the timeliness of his biggest plays that mattered most. Down by 20-10, the Cowboys’ offense was on the move and in Eagles’ territory. With quarterback Cooper Rush struggling with accuracy and struggling to connect on big plays down the field, Jake Ferguson delivered a big one.

On 1st and 10 from the Eagles’ 47-yard line, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore called a play-action pass to misdirect the Eagles’ defense. Rush dropped back, and threw what appeared to be an overthrown pass to a streaking Ferguson. Ferguson leaped in the air to make a difficult catch for an explosive 22-yard gain.

Perhaps even more impressive was Ferguson’s catch and run on his seven-yard touchdown catch. Through a methodical approach, the Cowboys found themselves knocking at the door in the red zone to open the fourth quarter still trailing by 10. Throughout the game, the Cowboys were finding success in passing on bootlegs to the tight ends in the flat.

With that in mind, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore tried it once more on 1st and goal from the seven-yard line. As the Eagles committed to the run fake, Ferguson leaked out into the flat and caught the pass from Rush. Flashing some nifty footwork, he dodged and darted past several Eagles defenders on his way to the end zone for the score. A great game by the rookie that showed even without Dalton Schultz, the Cowboys’ tight end spot looks to be in good hands.

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