Sadly, I have no news this week on the Eagles, since they play tonight on ESPN, so I’ll deliver the predictions and recap tonight, with the News and Notes coming tomorrow. News and Notes about the Eagles’ week 8 game when they play the Cowboys in week 10 strike me as useless, so if you want to see them come back on Tuesday.
In the first half, the Cowboys actually played pretty well save for a key Ogletree third down drop that cost the Cowboys a possible 7 points and two almost-picks that luckily resulted in no turnovers.
The first time, Dunta Robinson practically tackled Jason Witten which led to a pick that the referees later overturned, and the second time Asante Samuel simply dropped the pass. On that particular play, Dez Bryant actually had him beat but as he slowed up toward the back of the end zone that gave Samuel enough time to catch up and almost cause a decisive turnover. I actually thought Tony Romo took a reasonable risk, so I wasn’t as angry about an almost-pick as I should have been. Especially considering that was the drive later voided by the Ogletree drop, that was the best opportunity for a touchdown the entire first half.
In the second half, the Cowboys got off to a hot start, getting past mid-field on just three runs, but a three yard rush on 1st down, followed by an incompletion and crumple-sack (basically Tony Romo flopped) killed all the momentum and the Cowboys had to punt. Totally unrelated to the game: Michele Tafoya related a story about Sean Lee that demonstrates just how valuable he is. In training camp, Sean Lee would call out plays and Bruce Carter would have to detail every thing about them, from the coverage to who was rushing to where everyone would be at any given time. Carter said that it helped him grow as a player and credits it with his success this season.
Speaking of Bruce Carter, Cris Collinsworth said on the Falcon’s first drive that Bruce Carter was “playing” after breaking up a pass and stopping a receiver short of the first down marker (which contributed to a missed field goal that kept the game tied.)
On the next drive, a holding call and a Miles Austin drop forced the Cowboys to punt. Again. Then the Falcons marched all the way down the field, much of it on a 43 yard rush by Michael Turner. Luckily, the defense responded with allowing only a field goal despite giving up almost seventy yards. A key sack on first down by Victor Butler shifted the pendulum of the drive in the Cowboys’ favor, and excellent pass defense by Brandon Carr sealed the field goal.
On the next drive, Jason Witten set the Dallas Cowboys’ franchise record for receptions (Michael Irvin had the record with 750 career receptions). Later, Romo threw a strike (after marching down the field in the two minute offense despite the fact that the game had 8 minutes left) to Kevin Ogletree which brought the score back to within three. After the touchdown, the Falcons spent the next six minutes dinking and dunking the ball down the field, with Orlando Scandrick almost single-handedly cost the Cowboys a victory.
Scandrick missed a tackle on Jacquizz Rodgers that kept the Falcons on the field, and then Scandrick had a holding field kept them on again, which let the Falcons run the clock down to 17 seconds. Tony Romo tried to throw a Hail Mary but Felix Jones couldn’t rush the last forty yards and the Cowboys lost another disappointing game. No matter what, I think this seals Jason Garrett’s fate as a free agent to be, since every classic Cowboys mistake (missed tackles, penalties, disappointing ways to lose) reared its head. Especially with Sean Peyton available this offseason, I’d be stunned if Garrett stayed.
News and Notes
The Eagles are now as desperate as we are. They lost to the Saints 28-13, Michael Vick got sacked seven times, the Eagles struggled to apply pressure, more than a fourth of the team’s passing total came on a DeSean Jackson touchdown reception, they gained almost 500 yards on offense and scored one touchdown and even Marcus Vick is complaining about the offensive line. At least their fans are suffering as much as we are.
Jay Ratliff isn’t injured. After an ankle twist during the second half, the only defensive lineman that applied consistent pressure went down and had to leave. ESPN Dallas reports that he’ll be okay and should play against Philadelphia.
Sean Payton is available. Roger Goodell voided Payton’s contract on Sunday, so as of now he’s a coaching free agent. Under the ridiculous assumption that Garrett is let go in the offseason, Payton is as good an option as any to replace him, but the Eagles, should they fire Andy Reid, also figure to pursue Payton.
Predictions on the Philadelphia Eagles Game
Michael Vick finally gets benched. Vick has been atrocious this season, and though his sabermetrics present him as simply average, 6 fumbles rates him (in my eyes) as well below average. Public calls for his benching has only increased in recent weeks (articles now state that he won’t be benched) and if (somehow) he isn’t benched against the Saints, he will be sometime against the Cowboys, hopefully after two pick sixes.
DeMarcus Ware sacks Michael Vick at least twice. DeMarcus Ware has 9.5 sacks on the season and the Eagles have already given up 27 sacks (including 7 against New Orleans) and DeMarcus Ware abused a very capable Atlanta Falcons offensive line. A strip-sack wouldn’t surprise me either given Vick’s propensity to fumble, but no matter what, I’d be shocked if Ware didn’t dominate.
The Cowboys win 24-21. This game is going to be sloppy. Tony Romo and Michael Vick are prone to turning the ball over and both defenses are super aggressive, so I expect at least four total turnovers. If DeMarco Murray returns, I think the score bumps up to 27-21, but right now I wouldn’t bank on it. Dez Bryant should do well against an aggressive secondary, and if the Cowboys keep the ball on the ground it’ll set up an effective play-action pass which I think could be the deciding score. Against any other team, I’d be inclined to give the opposition the advantage because of the Dallas Cowboys’ unique talent to make stupid mistakes, but Philadelphia is rather similar in this regard, so it averages out to a Cowboys victory. Barely.