Eagles 44, Cowboys 6: The Right Word is Ignominious
This blog does not employ profanity, which severely limits the words that fit the Cowboys’ performance today. Here’s a word, though: Ignominious.
1 : marked with or characterized by disgrace or shame : dishonorable 2 : deserving of shame or infamy : despicable 3 : humiliating , degrading
Before the noon games today, the Eagles had to hope for two teams to win just to have a chance to make the playoffs. Philadelphia got that wish when the Raiders beat the Buccaneers and the Texans beat the Bears.
At that point, the Eagles just had to worry about their opponents from Dallas, who simply never showed up. Here’s a look:
Special Teams are Miserable
Nick Folk opened the game by promptly kicking the ball out of bounds, giving the Eagles the ball on the Dallas 40. Philadelphia drove into Dallas territory, but on a third down play, Brian Westbrook fumbled. The Dallas recovery was one of the few breaks in the game for the Cowboys.
The Eagles were back in good field position on their next drive thanks to a 21-yard return by DeSean Jackson. Philadelphia moved the ball to the Dallas 22 before settling for a field goal.
Bruce Read needs to be fired before he leaves Philadelphia. In fact, if Jerry Jones could somehow convince the Eagles to take him, all the better.
The Offense Looked Lost
The Dallas offense went three and out to start the game. On the Cowboys’ next possession, the team drove 61 yards in 14 plays, but on a 3rd-and-1 play, Jason Garrett decided to call a hitch pass to Roy Williams. After a moment of hesitation, Romo threw to Williams, who lost four yards.
The long drive in the first quarter was the only decent drive Dallas had in the first half. The Cowboys went three-and-out on two consecutive possessions in the second quarter as the game was starting to get away from Dallas.
The Defense Joins in and Looks Terrible
Why not have a complete breakdown? After bad special teams and bad offense, the defense starting showing cracks in the second quarter. It started when Donovan McNabb rolled to his right on a third down play and hit Correll Buckhalter, who weaved his way through Dallas defenders for a 59-yard play.
There has been quite a bit of talk about how the Eagles are having red-zone problems and how good Dallas has been in the red zone. That wasn’t the case on Sunday, as the Eagles scored a touchdown after Buckhalter’s catch-and-run.
After a Dallas three-and-out, the Eagles went on the move again. On a third-and-9 play from the Dallas 37, McNabb found Jackson on a seam route, and Terence Newman never saw the ball. Jackson took the ball down to the three. On third-and-goal from the four on the same drive, the Dallas defense was completely screwed up and allowed Buckhalter to score on a pass out in the flat, giving the Eagles a 17-3 lead.
The Complete Meltdown Begins at the End of the First Half
The Romo-to-Williams connection that the Cowboys wanted never happened today. After missing Williams on several passes in the first half, Romo tried again late in the first half. Throwing some sort of a toss-up pass off his back foot, Romo’s pass was short of Williams, who never turned to look for the ball. Sheldon Brown returned the ball to the Dallas 42 with 1:04 remaining in the half.
Field goal, perhaps? No. Newman was called for pass interference in the end zone, and the Eagles scored on the next play.
On the ensuing kickoff, Pacman Jones fumbled, and the Eagles recovered with three seconds left. It was enough time to allow the Eagles to kick a field goal.
This was essentially a playoff game, and Dallas was behind 27-3 at the half.
The Implosion Continues in the Second Half
The first half was bad. But what happened to start the second half defies words, even with the help of a combination dictionary/thesaurus.
1. Romo’s Fumble Returned for a Touchdown
Dallas looked like it had a bit of life when the Cowboys pulled off some sort of trick play. Romo rolled left, then threw the ball back to Jason Witten, who threw to Terrell Owens for a 42-yard gain.
Two plays later, Romo was sacked and fumbled the ball. It was recovered by Chris Clemons and returned for a touchdown.
Philadelphia 34, Dallas 3
2. Barber’s Fumble Returned for a Touchdown
On the next drive, Romo hit Owens deep and got back into Philadelphia territory. On a first down play from the Eagle 12, Romo dumped the ball off to Marion Barber, who looked as if he was going to score.
Then he was hit and stripped by Brian Dawkins. Joselio Hanson picked the ball up and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown.
Philadelphia 41, Dallas 3
The game was over before those fumbles, but it was obvious that everyone quit after that. The Eagles were playing soft defensively, but Dallas still had trouble moving the ball. The Eagles didn’t do anything fancy on offense, but Dallas didn’t want to tackle.
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Three years of blogging, and three big season-ending disappointments.
2008: Ignominious Defeat, Ignominious Season