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In one of the ugliest days of football in recent memory, the Sunday Night Eagles-Cowboys game was as good as everybody hoped, with three lead changes and two ties in a 30-27 game. Michael Vick didn’t play his sharpest game, throwing two interceptions to blemish his 270 yards and 3 touchdowns (one rushing). His two big plays went to Desean Jackson, a 60-yarder to start the game and a 91-yard pass play that DJax took by himself all the way from the 17-yard line. Jackson caught 4 balls for 210 yards and the one touchdown, coming away from Dallas with a bum ankle that could be cause for worry over the next week. LeSean McCoy was invisible in the first half but came to play after the break, going for 149 yards, most of which came from a time-wasting drive at the end that sealed the deal. It looks like Jackson, McCoy, and Maclin will all easily break 1,000 yards this season.
Though the defense wasn’t always there, allowing Jason Witten to score twice, his 5th and 6th career touchdowns against the Eagles, they made a few big plays on quarterback Jon Kitna. Quintin Mikell and Dmitri Patterson each stole a ball from the Cowboys, with Patterson’s being a late killer that led to the Eagles two-score lead. The secondary is still definitely the weak spot, but Trevard Lindley and Joselio Hanson had pretty good games, holding Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and Roy Williams to 4 total catches for 45 yards and no touchdowns. The loss of Stewart Bradley (dislocated elbow) in the middle is a big concern for the rest of the season, as he may end up sitting out for more than a few weeks. Rookie linebacker Jamar Chaney played solid in replacing Bradley, but I’m sure Howie Roseman is going to be looking for a few veteran additions to sub in there. Pray that it’s not Jeremiah Trotter.
Other game balls go to David Akers (who hit his longest field goal of the season at 50 yards), Darryl Tapp (his 3rd sack of the season, proving to be a great pickup just before the season started), and Todd Herremans, who led a terrific offensive line tonight, protecting Vick and creating holes for McCoy especially at the end, as well as catching a touchdown pass, the second of his career. The special teams, with the exception of Jorrick Calvin’s idiocy, was really solid today, limiting returns on punts and kicks. The field position battle is always important in games like these.
The Eagles move back into first place in the NFC East and will watch the Giants play Minnesota in Detroit (huh?) tomorrow night, hoping to keep sole possession of the division going into the New Meadowlands next week for another huge divisional battle. It’s great to beat the Cowboys any time, especially considering what they did to us in three games last season, even when their record is less than stellar. Having the Redskins lose and the Giants game in flux makes it even sweeter.
A 9-4 record with three games to play. Kudos to Andy Reid and crew for keeping this thing going.
The Eagles defense was an inch away from sacking Jon Kitna and for all intents and purposes ending the game. But three Philly defensive linemen whiffed on the sack of the ancient QB and let him run 10 yards on 4th and 8 to keep the drive alive. Then Ernie Sims watched Tashard Choice cut right by him for 17 yards. Jason Witten, who has underachieved all season long and always kills the Eagles, caught a Kitna pass, stonewalled a tackle and walked into the end zone making it 30-27 Eagles.
On the return, Jorrick Calvin scampered around the end zone trying to waste time (and failing because the clock doesn’t start on a kick off in the end zone), before taking a knee. Fine. But then he jawed at Alan Ball and things escalated to where he popped Ball in the helmet and got charged for a personal foul. Dumb.
Sure, after the Dmitri Patterson interception of Jon Kitna, it would have been nice to score a touchdown and lock this game up. But on fourth down with over one yard to go on the Dallas 11, kicking the field goal was the right play there. It’s likely that with a Michael Vick sneak, the Eagles would have gotten the first down, but when the opportunity is there to make it a two score lead, you have to take it. Andy Reid went for the field goal, David Akers’ third this game, and Dallas is now down 30-20 with time ticking away.
Make a stop and get the ball to LeSean McCoy (78 yards away from 1,000 on the season) and run out the rest of the clock. Unfortunately, and we say this every time an Eagle gets injured every week, Brandon Graham is down with an injury.
With his 91 yard TD, DeSean Jackson has 210 yards from scrimmage tonight. That’s the 3rd most in team history behind Tommy McDonald, who had 237 on 12/10/61, and Kevin Curtis, who had 221 on 9/23/07 in the ugly uniform game.
There’s still about 8 minutes left in the fame. So another reception or two could give Jackson the single game franchise record.
From the 9-yard line, Michael Vick threaded the needle to Desean Jackson on the sideline, missing the outstretched fingers of Mike Jenkins by a hair. Jackson turned upfield and cut and cut and then he was gone, beating the Cowboys secondary to the end zone for his longest career touchdown at 91 yards. It’s also the longest play from scrimmage in the NFL this season. He’s got 210 yards on 4 catches today. He’s 28 yards away from 1,000 yards on the season.
Unfortunately he celebrated while still on the field, which is a bummer, but a play like that I can handle him doing that. He was penalized 15 yards for excessive celebrating but the Eagles kickoff coverage was money anyway and it didn’t matter.
Jon Kitna’s first play of the drive went to Roy Williams but got picked by Dmitri Patterson for his 4th interception of the season and Kitna’s second of the day. The Eagles are riding LeSean McCoy in the red zone now, trying to make this a two score game with almost half the fourth quarter in the books.
27-20 Eagles. That happened fast.
Colt Anderson started the post-FG Dallas drive by breaking up the return and tackling Kevin Ogletree at the 8. The Eagles defense came up with a big three-and-out, giving the offense the ball back around midfield to start the drive. Desean Jackson was being looked at on the sidelines after the punt return.
On a game-teetering third down, Michael Vick targeted Jason Avant for 13 yards and his second catch of the game. A few LeSean McCoy runs and another Avant first down later, and the Eagles were marching to the Cowboys 30 as the 3rd quarter expired. Down a field goal, Vick went deep to Jackson (back on the field) in the corner of the end zone and missed another hook-up by a few feet. A swing pass got blown up by Bradie James when Todd Herremans missed the block to open it up. On 3rd and 12, Dallas rushed three and Vick, with a ton of time, threw in between Avant and Jackson.
David Akers was sent out for a game tying 50-yard field goal and nailed it with plenty of leg, his longest make of the year. He’s got 122 points for the Birds this season.
LeSean McCoy finally broke a play, taking a Mike Vick handoff 56 yards into the Cowboys red zone. He’s been absent all game and Andy Reid hasn’t committed to the run game all day. His quick legs should be able take advantage of a slowing Cowboys D in the 4th quarter.
Unfortunately, Reid went right back to McCoy, then an Owen Schmitt short gain led to a quick sack by Orlando Scandrick, the first of the game for Dallas. David Akers was called on for the 39 yard attempt and he banged it home, cutting the deficit to 3 with five minutes to go in the third.
Michael Vick already threw a pick this game that netted the Cowboys a field goal and this one hurt worse. He rolled to his right, bad for a left-handed quarterback, and threw a strike to Jeremy Maclin who got hit as he tried to catch it. The ball popped up and fell into the happy hands of Bradie James. That’s Vick’s third pick of the season and his first time throwing two in one game (obviously).
With a short field, the Cowboys went to Felix Jones on an effective screen pass to take the ball all the way to the Eagles 2. Simple enough, Jones pushed the line forward on second down and put the ball into the end zone for 6. The Cowboys lead for the first time this game. Somebody on either side of the ball needs to make a play to retaliate quickly.
Jon Kitna has been using the middle of the field this drive, no doubt with the intention of exploiting the young MLE Jamar Chaney. Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett and Kyle Ogletree have done most of the damage, while Dez Bryant and Miles Austin have been relatively quiet. The Cowboys had little trouble driving to the Eagles 30, but once they got there, things got tougher for them. Philadelphia’s D tightened up, forcing two incomplete passes, an offensive hold, and a giving up 3rd and 20 run by Felix Jones.
And it continues.....
Courtesy of the .com, SBNation.com.
Anthony Spencer did not get flagged for this clear case of unnecessary roughness. Michael Vick was on his way out of bounds with a foot already out before Spencer delivered the full blow. If I have to hear "err on the side of player safety" one more time without seeing it consistently on the field, I'm going to write a long, expletive-laden letter to Roger Goodell. Just watch.
Anyway, Spencer just got whistled for roughing the quarterback on an obvious make-up call, although on second look it was even more clearly a helmet to helmet by Spencer and Olshansky. Thanks anyway, refs.
Michael Vick and the Eagles offense finally started using the screen game to beat the Cowboys defense. The signature play of the drive was a 37-yard hook to Desean Jackson, who cut diagonally across the field and used a nice Jeremy Maclin block to get all the way to the Dallas 2-yard-line. Two plays later, Vick faked the handoff to LeSean McCoy and found a wide open (and eligible!) Todd Herremans for the third score of the game. That’s Herremans’ second career touchdown after lining up as a tight end. Red zone touchdowns are huge in rivalry games like this one.
News out of the locker room is that Stewart Bradley is out with a dislocated elbow. He’ll definitely miss the rest of the game and it’s a possibility he misses the remainder of the season. Jamar Cheney, rookie out of Mississippi State, will take over at middle linebacker. Sad for Stew.
Just like last week, the Eagles secondary looks lost without Asante Samuel (and Ellis Hobbs). The “not blitzing” strategy has hardly been effective for Sean McDermott and it seems like it would be a good idea to scrap that whole plan. Still, the Cowboys haven’t tried exploiting it and continue to run draw plays, curls and bubble screens to people that aren’t named Dez Bryant, for which I and the Eagles are very grateful.
Both teams punted in their second drives of the game as the first quarter winds itself down. The Eagles have 90 yards to go at the start of their third drive.
It’s pretty impressive for Vick to break that record for a franchise that has had running QBs like Donovan McNabb & Randall Cunningham playing for it, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that he did it in just eight starts…
After a Dmitri Patterson facemask penalty bailed the Cowboys out of a 4th down, a double end-around to Miles Austin picked up 26 yards to take Dallas into the red zone too quickly against this Eagles defense which has been horrible inside the 20 this season. Tashard Choice took two big chunks of yards from the Eagles, making it first-and-goal from the 4. Another Choice carry got the ball to the 1, on the precipice of killing the Eagles red zone D again, which had given up a record-setting 26 touchdowns in 33 red zone defenses this season. But Antonio Dixon stuffed Choice before he got to the line of scrimmage, setting up a third down.
Jon Kitna lined up shotgun and easily found Jason Witten for the touchdown. Too easy. The Eagles simply have no solution to their red zone problems. Championship teams don’t give up 27 touchdowns in 34 red zone trips — that’s gotta get fixed.
As the Eagles have done so many times this season, Andy Reid dialed up a bomb to start the game. Michael Vick rolled out after a play action and unloaded one to Desean Jackson that went for 60 yards into the Cowboys secondary. With the ball on the 16 and third down, Vick scrambled and found Chad Hall just a half yard shy of the first down. Andy took the rsk early, letting LeSean McCoy plow through the line on 4th and short.
In a goal-to-go situation, Vick took a quarterback draw from the shotgun and ran through the line easily for the first score of the game just over three minutes in. That’s his 7th rushing touchdown of the year, his most since he got 8 with Atlanta in 2002.
Bad news on the injury front for the Eagles. The team announced today that neither CB Asante Samuel or starting RT Winston Justice will make the trip to Dallas. This means that Joselio Hanson and presumably King Dunlap will start in their place.
We all know how important Samuel is, but the prospect of King Dunlap protecting Michael Vick’s blindside against the likes of DeMarcus Ware is a truly scary thought. I suppose the one bit of optimism we can have here is that last time we expected disaster with Dunlap in the lineup was against the Falcons and he actually played pretty well.
Still bad news any way you slice it.
Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg met the media this week to talk Eagles vs Cowboys and the subject of Dallas’ 3-4 defensive scheme came up. Specifically, Marty was asked whether the Eagles struggle against 3-4 defenses?
“Oh no, we love the 3-4. This offense is built around [playing the 3-4]. There are some really good 3-4 defenses. There are some that blend it, too. Every defense is different. This is sort of a different 3-4 than another 3-4. They base the 3-4 personnel, but they play a little bit different style.”
Does the 3-4 defense gives the tight end more opportunities to catch passes?
“Well, it depends on how they’re playing that 3-4 and what type of coverage—all of those things. There are some where it does, there are some where they take care of the tight end pretty well.”
How the Dallas 3-4 is unique?
“Well, some 3-4’s are two-gap. Some 3-4’s you don’t see much of it. Some 3-4 personnel don’t play all that much straight 3-4. It’s 3-4 personnel, they typically reduce on the weak side there. Every 3-4 personnel—they’re structured just a little bit different.”
Exactly why do the Eagles enjoy playing against a 3-4 defense?
“Well, it’s what this offense was built [for] way back when, when everybody was in the 3-4 back then.”
It should be noted that the Eagles biggest offensive output of the year came against the 3-4 defense run by the Washington Redskins.
Earlier this week, I wrote on Bleeding Green Nation that to be truly accepted by Eagles fans as their starting quarterback, Michael Vick has to go beat the Dallas Cowboys. It's a rite of passage for an Eagles QB. This week, Vick said he understands the rivalry.
"I didn't have to be here long to know that this was a heated rivalry. When I was young, I'd seen so many Eagles-Cowboys games and tempers flared, and teams really didn't like each other when they were out there on the field. And that's how it is within a division. You just have to go out there and block that out and just play football, because at the end of the day it is football."
He also says he hasn't forgotten how last season ended.
"It was a tough feeling last year, going down there and losing two weeks back to back, and the way we lost. So, we just have to come out and play with confidence, be poised, stay patient, weather the storm. We know they're going to be fired up in the beginning, and [we have to] just play smart. But it was an ill feeling leaving out of there last year and there was nothing we could do about it, because they ended our season."
It had to be doubly frustrating for Vick to watch what was happening and only to be able to get in for a few plays. He's got a chance to do something about it this time around and make a lot of Eagles fans believers in the process.