In a game that neither offense could get untracked, some bad decisions ended up costing the Eagles the game and first place in the NFC East. A few of those decisions were on the Eagles and one was on the officiating crew, but all led to Dallas taking control of the game in the 4th quarter and time running out on the Eagles.
The Eagles squandered their time outs in the second half through their own actions and what appeared to be a bad decision by the officials, then compounded it all with a highly questionable decision to kick a late game field goal and hope to get the ball back. First, the Eagles had to burn a timeout when they wasted time shuffling Donovan McNabb back onto the field to replace Mildcat QB Michael Vick, who came in the game to hand off for a 3-yard gain.
Later, Andy Reid unsuccessfully challenged a third down spot on a pass reception by LeSean McCoy that appeared to have little chance of getting overturned. And, he lost his third timeout challenging a 4th down spot that appeared should have been changed to give the Eagles a first down. Unfortunately, Head Umpire Walt Coleman seemed more intent on backing up his crew than getting the call right, and the Eagles lost both the ball and their final timeout.
This proved to be very costly as the Cowboys promptly scored on a 49 yard pass to Miles Austin to take a 20-13 lead. On the ensuing drive, the Eagles moved the ball to the Dallas 33, but after a one yard loss on a sack, they faced a fourth and 11 with 4:36 left in the game. Rather than go for a first down, Reid surprisingly elected to kick a 52-yard field goal that left them still needing a touchdown. They kicked off and never got the ball back.
The Eagles showed none of the explosiveness that they have displayed throughout the season. The Cowboys kept DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin under wraps all night, with the team's only long play being a 45 yard screen pass to McCoy. The other big play was an Ellis Hobbs 96 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half, but it was nullified by a penalty.
Once again, the Eagles could not attain any consistency on offense and the Wildcat proved to be a detraction. The formation continues to disrupt the Eagles offense, gains a miniscule amount of yardage and last night cost them a valuable time out. Vick shows little in the way of speed, elusiveness or passing ability. It would seem well past the time for the team to acknowledge their error and keep Vick on the sideline as the emergency quarterback.
The Eagles find themselves once again at 5-3 at mid-season. The big play capabilities in all phases of the game tend to make this look like it is underperforming their potential, but perhaps that is an illusion. They now leave the friendly confines of Lincoln Financial Field, playing 4 of the next 5 games on the road against teams with winning records.