The Cowboys and Eagles have been two of the most prolific first-half scoring teams in the NFL, so of course they combined for a lousy three points in the first 30 minutes Sunday. But the Cowboys finally found an offensive rhythm and were able to pull away from the Eagles in a 17-3 win.
You can call it Monte Kiffin’s revenge…or Nick Foles’ pants-ing. The Eagles’ backup quarterback had been solid the past two games, but he had no clue against the Cowboys. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher and his band of no-name brethren applied steady pressure to Foles, but the quarterback also missed wide-open receivers throughout the game. When the sure-handed Jason Avant flashed open in the end zone, Foles delivered a wobbler that was initially ruled an interception because it bounced into the arms of Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly may be the next big thing, but on Sunday it was hard to tell what he was trying to accomplish. Tailback LeSean McCoy is one of the most talented players in the league, but he was harmless against the Cowboys. When he tried to bounce outside, middle linebacker Sean Lee took care of him. And the rest of the defense did a tremendous job of rallying to the ball on the few occasions he appeared to have some room. Lightning-fast wide receiver DeSean Jackson wasn’t able to cause much damage due to tight coverage and a tight quarterback. The only Eagles offensive player who had a good day was Michael Vick, who will hang onto his starting job for the foreseeable future.
Foles’ lack of mobility allowed the Cowboys to play man coverage throughout much of the game. The Cowboys said they prepared for both quarterbacks in practice, but it’s Foles who had most of their attention. Kiffin’s defenses at USC had given up an average of 50 points and 600 yards in three games against Kelly’s Oregon Ducks. He didn’t want to make too much of that subplot, but his players knew it was something that was important to him. Kiffin’s unit would’ve likely pitched a shutout if not for Tony Romo throwing an interception in the third quarter.
Romo finally found his rhythm with seven minutes left in the first half. He connected on passes to Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams, who has definitely become the Cowboys’ No. 2 wide receiver. Dallas only managed a 38-yard field goal on the drive to take a 3-0 lead at halftime, but Romo led his team on a touchdown drive on the first possession of the second half. Bryant made a couple of nice catches before drawing a pass interference penalty in the end zone. That set up a short touchdown run by Phillip Tanner.
Romo’s interception late in the third quarter came on a throw that was likely intended for Cole Beasley. Tanner was running a short crossing route and attempted to make a play on the ball, but Eagles linebacker Demeco Ryans snatched it from him. The Eagles had third-and-goal on the ensuing drive, but starting defensive end George Selvie and recent addition Jarius Wynn sacked Foles and sent him out of the game with a head injury. It may have been a mercy injury based on how Foles played for three quarters. Former USC star Matt Barkley entered the game and promptly threw three interceptions.
The Eagles settled for a short field goal to cut the lead to 10-3, but Romo responded with his best drive of the day. He was 7-of-8 for 69 yards, and he capped it with a nice throw to Williams on a slant route for a touchdown.
The Cowboys now have sole possession of first place in the NFC East and they are 3-0 against NFC East opponents. It was also their first road win of the season. Winning back-to-back games against the Redskins and Eagles should give the Cowboys momentum heading into Detroit next Sunday.
The Redskins and Eagles are now tied for second place in the NFC East with 3-4 records. It’s not like the Cowboys are going to run away with this division, but they’re certainly in a good position now.
And if they could get one more crack at Foles this season, they’d really be sitting pretty.