Examining the Cowboys: Five Points

A win on Sunday gives the Eagles open road to take the NFC East over the next two games. The Cowboys, however, are still licking their chops after Thanksgiving.


Not since Week 1 did Tony Romo have a game as bad as he had on Thanksgiving. At least in the opening defeat at San Francisco's hands, he managed to throw a garbage touchdown. On the feasting holiday, Romo was hammered to the extent of throwing two picks and no touchdowns, for a miserable 53.7 rating. A number of overthrows underscored the four sacks sustained, all signs of the "Bad Romo" that is often mocked in media.

Romo ably bounced back against the sad-sack Bears, going 21 of 26 for three touchdowns and no picks in a primetime smashing, but there's more on the line in this instance. A loss Sunday night puts the Eagles further into the driver's seat for the division title, with a win over the Redskins or Giants cinching it. Romo's history in must-win games has been spotty, despite his quality play otherwise.


If DeMarco Murray is to fall short of Eric Dickerson's elusive rushing yards record, then the loss to the Eagles will go down as one of the culprits. Murray was held to 73 yards on 20 carries by an Eagles defense that plays the run expertly, behind the likes of Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks. The hemming in of the run went a ways in forcing Romo to try and steer the sinking ship.

Murray currently sits 500 yards exactly from breaking the mark, after a monster evening in Chicago (179 yards, 5.59 YPA, and a touchdown). The Eagles were the only team to really bog Murray down below four yards a carry (3.65), and only one back has cleared 100 yards against the Birds this season: Frank Gore with 119 on September 28.


After a big catch near the end of the first quarter over a harried Bradley Fletcher, Dez Bryant became a spectre, invisible for much of the remainder of that 33-10 loss. The only time Bryant really made an appearance was during bark-sessions on the sideline, with both Romo and the Cowboys defense. Should have hired Tony Robbins; the motivational speeches didn't take, and Dallas fell further behind.

From November onward, Bryant's topped 70 yards four times, but only once in that frame has he cleared the century mark (158 vs. the Jaguars in London). His 73 yards on Thanksgiving were boosted by the 36-yard catch on Fletcher (three grabs for a pedestrian 37 yards otherwise). That's still worlds better than the one-catch days Jason Witten and Terrence Williams had themselves.


One oft-noted point from the one-sided Eagles victory concerns Dallas' vulnerability to the up-tempo offense that Chip Kelly institutes. Two long touchdown drives early ended up gashing the Cowboys defense, who appeared to be sucking wind mightily by the close of the first quarter. All Dallas had to hang their collective hat on were a fumble recovery and some red-zone stops.

The speed of the offense took away from Dallas' eight-man rotation along the front line, forcing the likes of Tyrone Crawford, George Selvie, Nick Hayden, and Terrell McClain to play extended stretches, and only Crawford came out looking any bit strong. If Dallas doesn't have a counter in mind for the rematch, they could once more be cut up early, especially with the Eagles coming off of a painful loss.


The Eagles loved to pick on Brandon Carr in the victory, and for good reason. The corner was targeted seven times to the tune of four receptions and 80 yards. Although the win for the Eagles was mostly a run-heavy performance, Mark Sanchez enjoyed success through the air, and Carr took much of the brunt of it.

The safeties fared somewhat poorly against the run, with Barry Church missing two tackles against making four stops. J.J. Wilcox and C.J. Spillman were each on the hook for a missed tackle as well. After Philadelphia took the air out of the Cowboys defense, some of the poor play can be attributed to a dearth of strength.

Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used to write this story.

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