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Eagles vs.Cowboys: The Grades


Just when you think the Eagles are ready to take command of the NFC East, they go out and give up serve to the Dallas Cowboys, losing at home, 20-16, Sunday night.

The Eagles are now 5-3 at the midway point of the season, but are also 0-2 in the only close games they have played this season and are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games decided by a touchdown, or less.

Here’s a breakdown of the team’s units against the Cowboys.

PASSING OFFENSE -- Not a good game for quarterback Donovan McNabb, who threw two interceptions and was lucky he didn’t have four, or five. McNabb finished 16-for-30 for 227 yards and a 61.4 quarterback rating. He showed poor touch on some passes, missed open receivers on others and had some other passes dropped. Dallas played off wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and rolled the coverage to DeSean Jackson, taking away the big play the Eagles have lived off this season, and the Eagles could not take advantage of the small plays.

Grade: D+

RUSHING OFFENSE – Playing without running back Brian Westbrook for the third, and probably not the last, time this season, the Eagles backs carried 21 times for 87 yards. LeSean McCoy had 54 yards on 13 carries and fullback Leonard Weaver gained 33 yards on eight carries. Problem was they didn’t run enough, and also failed on 3rd-and 4th-and-short in critical plays. The blame goes to the line, especially the right side with Stacy Andrews, at times, and Winston Justice. Center Jamaal Jackson didn’t earn any Pro Bowl votes either.

Grade: C-

PASSING DEFENSE – The defense got pretty good pressure on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and sacked him four times, but could only force him into one first-quarter turnover, Sheldon Brown’s fourth interception of the season. Romo finished 21-for-34 for 307 yards. Brown played well the entire night, but got beat on a double move by Miles Austin for the game-winning 49-yard touchdown. Asante Samuel was sloppy all night and got called for a stupid, costly penalty. Safeties Quintin Mikell and Sean Jones were good as was nickel back Joselio Hansen.

Grade: C+

RUSHING DEFENSE – The Cowboys gave their backs the ball 20 times and they gained 79 yards, with Marion Barber getting 50 yards on 12 attempts, not a great amount. For more than three quarters the Eagles did a nice job up front and controlled the Cowboys running game. Then, on the final drive when the Eagles needed the ball back, Dallas ran at will and killed the clock. That’s not the sign of a defense that thinks it’s good.

Grade: C

SPECIAL TEAMS – Once again a killer penalty took away a big play, a 96-yard kickoff return to start the second half. Other than that, this unit did OK. They didn’t have any other big returns, but did a very good job in coverage against a good Dallas return game. David Akers made all three of his field goal attempts, including a 52-yarder that would have been good from 62. Punter Sav Rocca had a nice game as well, putting two of his three kicks inside the 20 yardline.

Grade: B-

photo- AP/Mel Evans