Observations on the Eagles-Cowboys game

The Eagles' Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie breaks up a pass to Dallas' Kevin Ogletree.
The Eagles' Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie breaks up a pass to Dallas' Kevin Ogletree. (   RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 03, 2012

Here are some observations and ruminations about Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game:

ARLINGTON, Texas - Bryce Brown's rushing has been a revelation the last two games, but some of the credit for all those yards has to go to the Eagles' offensive line.

The addition of Jake Scott seems to have made a big difference. With the veteran in at right guard instead of Danny Watkins, the unit has opened some mammoth-sized holes for Brown. And the rookie running back has wasted little time hitting them.

With offensive-line coach Howard Mudd confirming last week that he will retire at the end of the season, it will be interesting to see if the Eagles get a replacement that will keep the blocking schemes that are tailor-made for Scott, guard Evan Mathis, and injured center Jason Kelce.


- Jeff McLane


Halftime boost

After Dallas went on an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive to cut the Eagles' lead to 14-10 with 45 seconds remaining in the first half, the Birds would have taken that score into halftime without complaint.

Instead, rookie quarterback Nick Foles oversaw a drive that shifted momentum, and it was the type of drive the Eagles have seldom had this season.

It started when Brown ran for 20 yards out of the shotgun. Coach Andy Reid used his first timeout with 28 seconds remaining. Foles overthrew Jeremy Maclin on the next play, but redeemed himself with a 29-yard pass to Jason Avant with 14 seconds remaining.

The Eagles handed the ball off to Brown twice to make it an easier field goal, and Alex Henery hit a 43-yarder to close out the half.  

- Zach Berman


Good challenge

It's been a rough season for Reid in all sorts of ways. Challenging calls on the field has been one of them.

The Eagles coach, however, made a wise decision when he challenged a first-down catch by Jason Witten. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks was covering the Dallas tight end and came up claiming that the ball hit the ground. The Cowboys tried to get the next play off quickly, but defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins pretended to be injured so that Reid would have time to hear from upstairs on whether he should review the play.

Reid tossed his red hankie, the play was overturned, and Reid's record on challenges improved to 3 for 7.  

- J.M.


Why not McCoy?

The Eagles' coaching staff defended their use of LeSean McCoy throughout the season, but it's reasonable to wonder why they didn't feed their all-pro running back with running plays early in games the way they have for Brown while McCoy is out with a concussion.

Brown had 14 carries for 107 yards in the first half on Sunday, one week after he had nine first-half carries. The Eagles showed a clear commitment to a balanced offense. Of course, Brown coughed up the ball in the fourth quarter and the fumble was returned for a touchdown.

In 10 games this season, McCoy averaged 81/2 first-half carries. The game plan changed when Michael Vick suffered a concussion, but it would have been interesting to see what McCoy could have done during some of the losses this season when he didn't receive as many carries.  

- Z.B.


No safety valve

Faced with third down and 13 on the Eagles 48 with 1 minute, 11 seconds left before the half, the Cowboys went right at rookie cornerback Brandon Boykin.

Tony Romo hit wide receiver Miles Austin on a crossing pattern short of the sticks, and Boykin, who was trailing the whole way, could not come up and make the tackle. Austin's 19-yard catch gave Dallas a first down, and a play later Romo hit a wide-open Witten for 28 yards down to the 1-yard line.

It was difficult to say which Eagle was responsible for the breakdown, but it came in the area in which the safeties are normally supposed to cover.


- J.M.


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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