The dreaded 'tale of two games'. Philadelphia iced them, and then Chicago left the door unlocked, both showing the yin and yang of Dallas' offense. Whether the Bears game 'woke up' the team's potential, or the Eagles simply showed how easy the Cowboys are to box in and shut down, is to be determined come Sunday night.
The Bears defense is so poor, it's little wonder why the Cowboys were able to pile on to the tune of 194 rushing yards in what was a blowout before letting Chicago back in with pity points. After Philadelphia largely bottled up Marshawn Lynch in spite of the loss, it's safe to say that the Eagles dominance of the run is no fluke.
Will "Bad Romo" rear his ugly head again? With the running game bottled up, and the pass rush mounting, Romo fell onto old, bad habits, such as overthrows, desperate heaves, and outright panic on Thanksgiving. If that sort of reversion is more capable through a great defensive effort, and less an aberration on Romo's part, then the template for the gameplan is set: keep Romo uncomfortable.
KEY STAT: The loss to the Eagles was the only one in which Romo failed to throw a touchdown pass this season.
Sitting 500 yards away from the NFL's all-time rushing yards mark doesn't mean much if you're in peril of missing the playoffs yet again. LeSean McCoy became the Eagles all-time leading rusher Sunday, and it was dampened by losing to Seattle. Philly's run defense is a powerful force, something Murray discovered when he only rushed for 73 yards on Thanksgiving, his poorest performance of the season.
KEY STAT: Only nine of Murray's 20 runs on Thanksgiving went for four or more yards, peaking with nine yards several times.
Not a happy turkey-day for Bryant, who would have been all but invisible following an early 36-yard reception had he not been filmed screaming at defensive players on the sidelines when things looked bleak. Other than Bradley Fletcher losing Bryant on that long reception to set up Dallas' only touchdown, the press coverage on Bryant was magnificent, and was the source of Romo's panic: take away the number one, and with the pass rush in his face, the pressure mounts.
KEY STAT: Bryant was targeted just seven times on Thanksgiving, his lowest since being targeted six times in the win over the Saints.
Bearing the worst brunt of the Eagles pass rush was left guard Leary, who caved in at the push of Fletcher Cox and Trent Cole from the right side of the Eagles line. After the Cowboys offensive line irked Eagles defenders with open challenges prior to the game, most of the group struggled. Zack Martin was pummeled by Connor Barwin, but Leary had the worst day against the pass.
KEY STAT: The Cowboys allowed 12 pressures, five alone from Leary (two sacks, a hit, and two hurries).
All things considered, the Eagles defense didn't play too poorly against the Seahawks, who introducing Philly to a new danger: the extended play where the receiver can get open. Brandon Boykin, Nate Allen, and especially Malcolm Jenkins fell victim to Russell Wilson's elusiveness, even as the team held their own against the run and a number of zone fakes.
Would a less mobile Romo be considered a respite after that outing against a dangerous Wilson? The man is playing (mostly well) with fractures in his lower back, and you'd think the Eagles would be able to contain him thusly. If the press coverage downfield holds, and Romo doesn't have time to dance off the rush, it's hard to imagine the Cowboys mimmicking Seattle's success.
Cox once more played better than any Eagles defender in that Seattle game, stuffing eight runs and reading Wilson like a book. If all ten teammates played the way Cox played, it would have been a shutout win for Philadelphia, but that's a staggering 'if'. No Eagle plays the run as expertly as Cox, who's flat-out having an All-Pro season. There may be no preparation for Dallas' offense to keep him from making noise.
KEY STAT: Over one third of Cox's run stops (12 of 35) have come in the last two games, against Murray and Marshawn Lynch.
Kendricks has blossomed into precisely the linebacker the Eagles need with DeMeco Ryans out, possibly for good. Kendricks alone recorded seven run stops on Sunday, and aided in bottling up Murray on Thanksgiving, including a knifing six-yard loss in garbage time when Kendricks came flying in unblocked. His instincts and timing have been finely honed, and hopefully he can lead a similar performance on Sunday night.
KEY STAT: Kendricks has ten QB hurries on the season, five of which came Sunday vs. Seattle.
The usually-reliable Jenkins fared poorly against the pass on Sunday, getting burned in one-on-one situations, and dropping what could have been a sure pick-six when the Eagles needed it most. Jenkins only played pedestrian football against the Cowboys while Cary Williams and Brandon Boykin played strongest for the secondary. Maybe a late season breakdown for a man in year one of the Chip Kelly Diet?
KEY STAT: Jenkins played 91 snaps on Sunday, topping 87 against the 49ers as the most he's played this season.
Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used to write this story.
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