December 11, 2023   7 MIN READ

Falling Stars

Birds Pounded By 'Boys, Suffer Double-Digit Loss Second Straight Week


Already reeling from a 23-point loss to the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday, the Eagles traveled to Arlington, Texas, this weekend for their second-round showdown against their division rival, the Dallas Cowboys, who dropped the first matchup at the Linc back in Week 9.

This time, however, the Cowboys (10-3) bested the Eagles (10-3), 33-13, in a game that never felt particularly close.

A red-hot Dallas offense rolled up three first-half touchdowns before seemingly shifting into cruise control, as kicker Brandon Aubrey did the heavy lifting, converting field goals of 59, 45 and 50 yards.

For the Eagles (10-3), both the offense and defense struggled to establish much of a rhythm for a second consecutive week, this time fumbling three times on offense while providing little resistance on defense against a surging Cowboys’ offense.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts completed 18-of-27 pass attempts for 197 yards while his counterpart, MVP candidate Dak Prescott, completed 24-of-39 pass attempts for 271 yards and two touchdowns.

Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson led Dallas in receiving, snaring seven passes for 72 yards. Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown hauled in a game-high 94 yards on nine catches.

Jalen Hurts Cowboys

GETTY IMAGES: Jalen Hurts’ first-drive fumble set an ominous tone for the Eagles’ offense – and overall – in their 33-13 loss to Dallas.

Let’s go ahead with the observations.

*Inactives: QB Tanner McKee (3rd QB), RB Rashaad Penny, DT Moro Ojomo, G Sua Opeta, TE Albert Okwuegbunam.

* Still perplexed as to the team’s plan for Penny, who has largely been a non-entity through 13 games. Perhaps the thought here is to preserve the oft-injured running back for postseason play. With Goedert returning from a forearm fracture, Okwuegbunam – who doesn’t contribute on special teams – would have been a luxury.

*Linebackers Zach Cunningham and Nicholas Morrow reunited in the starting lineup, assuming the lion’s share of workload as the newly signed Shaq Leonard acclimates. I’d expect Leonard to seize a more prominent role next week in Seattle. Elsewhere, CB Bradley Roby experienced his first Eagles-Dallas showdown, primarily drawing weapon WR CeeDee Lamb in coverage. The veteran was sidelined with an injury when these two teams met in Week 9.

*The Cowboys experienced little resistance on their opening drive, a 10-play, 75-yard march that culminated in a 13-yard touchdown from Prescott to Lamb. Notably, on WR/KR KaVontae Turpin’s 22-yard end around, RB Tony Pollard covered up Morrow to spring the play. On the ensuring play, an 11-yard Pollard run, S Kevin Byard whiffed on a tackle that would have yielded second down. On the touchdown, Morrow and Roby trailed a wide-open Lamb. Missed tackles and poor coverage have become rampant issues for the back end of the Eagles’ defense lately.

* Eagles DT Jordan Davis appeared to be held on the play – and a flag was initially thrown – but officials thought better of it and picked it up.

* Sloppy, undisciplined play from the Eagles on their opening offensive possession. RT Lane Johnson (false start), LT Jordan Mailata (false start), and WR A.J. Brown (pass interference) were each tagged with penalties. Brown’s infraction wiped away a 14-yard Dallas Goedert catch that would’ve set the offense up at the Dallas 7-yard line. Jalen Hurts on a designed quarterback run fumbled on the ensuing play, recovered by Cowboys S Donovan Wilson at the 21.

* On a 2nd-and-9, Prescott was pressured by rookie EDGE Nolan Smith, forcing an ill-advised throw to WR Brandin Cooks – who was blanketed by CB Darius Slay – that fell incomplete. For a struggling pass rush, good to see Smith get involved.

* In the first meeting, Lamb reeled in 11 catches for 191 yards, primarily drawing rookie Eli Ricks in coverage. But the reality is, Lamb is a mismatch for any defensive back. On his 26-yarder on 3rd-and-9, Roby trailed in coverage.

* A combined eight penalties were called through the first three possessions. Tight officiating.

* The Eagles’ defense rebounded and held firm on Dallas’ second possession, forcing a 60-yard field goal from rookie K Brandon Aubrey. Aubrey, previously of the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL, already appears to be among the league’s top kickers, and that sequence underscored the trust the team has in him.

* ST coordinator Michael Clay’s units continue to deliver. On a 4th-and-2 from the Eagles’ 33, punter Braden Mann completed a short toss to the right to WR Olamide Zaccheaus for a well-executed fake punt.

* Brown has no shortage of highlight-reel-worthy plays this season, but he must find a way to secure that perfectly placed 3rd-and-5 deep shot early in the second quarter. It’s a play that Brown has made over again. Instead, the Eagles settled for a 52-yard Jake Elliott field goal.

* Thought the Cowboys really set the tone early from a physicality standpoint, bullying the Eagles in the trenches, particularly offensively, where Pollard and RB Rico Dowdle surged through the teeth of the defense.

* S Reed Blankenship entered concussion protocol after going low to tackle Cowboys TE Jake Ferguson, bringing on rookie S Sydney Brown. Blankenship’s absence exploited the Eagles’ lack of depth at safety. The team rosters just three true safeties on the 53.

* The veteran Morrow, who had a tough outing last week against the 49ers, has largely been serviceable in his starts. On a 2nd-and-1 from the 1, Morrow made a nice play in coverage, defending a pass to Ferguson.

* Curious decision by DC Sean Desai to insert rookie CB Kelee Ringo – who had played just one defensive snap all season – in for the two-minute drill. On an eight-yarder to WR Brandin Cooks, Ringo committed multiple fouls – pass interference and a facemask, which advanced the ball to the Eagles’ 35 with 44 seconds remaining until the break.

* Legendary battle between Brown and Cowboys CB Stephon Gilmore, a Super Bowl champion. While Brown caught his share of passes, Gilmore got the better of him in the third quarter, stripping the receiver following a 7-yard completion. While the Cowboys recovered, the drive failed to yield any points.

* Sydney Brown, playing in Blankenship’s place, stood out for how he swarmed to the football and played like hair was on fire. The rookie bailed out CB James Bradberry – who was beaten cleanly off the line by Lamb down the left sideline – to defend a deep pass. Brown was also tossed aside on a 32-yard pass over the middle to Ferguson.

* You know it isn’t the Eagles’ night when WR DeVonta Smith – owner of some of the league’s surest hands – fails to secure an end zone shot in the waning moments of the third. Gilmore and CB DaRon Bland won many matchups, too, but credit the Dallas pressure for never allowing Hurts or the offense to establish rhythm.

* Dowdle stood out to me at the East-West Shrine Bowl some years back, so I’m not surprised to see the South Carolina product eventually find a steady complementary role in the NFL. His running style pairs perfectly with Pollard. The Cowboys have found an effective two-headed rushing attack.

* No issue with the Eagles going for it on 4th-and-8 from the Dallas 30, but to not have routes go beyond the sticks is inexcusable.

* Ferguson is quickly becoming one of the league’s top tight ends. Tough, strong, soft hands. Very Jason Witten-like.

*  The Cowboys scored three times in the first half, but the offense sputtered coming out of intermission, mustering only three Aubrey field goals. Still, the Eagles couldn’t capitalize.

* With the Eagles offense bumbling through the game, it’s surprising that Zaccheaus doesn’t have more of a role. The 26-year-old has come up big in his opportunities and is at his best on the move in space, seemingly a sound recipe for success against a penetrating Dallas defense.

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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