Tuesday, October 21, 2014
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Eagles-Cowboys Day-After Dissection

Breaking down Sunday night’s impressive 34-7 win over the Cowboys while wondering what the over/under is on the length of Kim Kardashian’s next marriage:

Eagles-Cowboys Day-After Dissection

Breaking down Sunday night’s impressive 34-7 win over the Cowboys while wondering what the over/under is on the length of Kim Kardashian’s next marriage:

 

THE NUMBERS GAME

--Tony Romo now is 5-4 as a starter against the Eagles. In the Cowboys’ five wins, he has a 111.7 passer rating (.690 completion percentage, 9.5 yards per attempt, 11 touchdowns, 4 interceptions). In their four losses, including Sunday night, his passer rating is 47.7 (.475 completion percentage, 5.3 ypa, 2 TDs, 7 INTs).

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--The Eagles, who had converted just 7 of their previous 20 red zone trips into touchdowns, were 4-for-6 against the Cowboys. They converted their first three trips inside the 20 into touchdowns on their way to a 24-0 first-half lead. Mike Vick, who had completed just 17 of 31 passes in the red zone in the first six games, was just 3-for-7 against the Cowboys, but had two red-zone TD passes to Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek. The Eagles’ receiving breakdown in the red zone in the first seven games:

            Jeremy Maclin       7-50-4

            Brent Celek           4-27-2

            LeSean McCoy       5-6-1

            Jason Avant           2-22-0

            Clay Harbor           1-16-1

            DeSean Jackson     1-6-1

--The Eagles converted 7 of 12 third-down opportunities, including 2 of 3 third-and-ones. It’s the first time they’ve converted more than 40 percent of their third-down chances since Week 3. They have converted 51.2 percent of their third-down opportunities in their three wins, and 39.6 in their four defeats.

--It’s still hard to get a read on the Eagles’ run defense. Because they fell behind so quickly Sunday night, the Cowboys only had 10 rushing attempts. Two weeks ago, the Redskins only had 14 rushing attempts. The Cowboys averaged 8.5 yards a carry Sunday. DeMarco Murray had 74 yards on just eight carries. He had three double-digit runs of 15, 20 and 26 yards. But after jumping out to a 14-0 lead, the Eagles clearly were much more focused on rushing the passer than they were stopping the run. This much is clear. Since Fred Jackson’s 22-yard run to open the second half of the Eagles’ 31-24 Week 4 loss to the Bills, something good has happened to the Eagles’ run defense. Since Jackson busted that run, the Eagles have held opponents to 3.63 yards per carry (49-178). Before that, opponents had been gouging them to the tune of 5.28 yards per carry.

--In the Eagles’ first five games, opposing quarterbacks had a 104.3 passer rating (.637 completion percentage, 7.82 yards per attempt, 11 TDs, 3 interceptions). In the last two games, opposing QBs have a 45.1 rating (.486 completion percentage, 6.4 ypa, 1 TD, 5 INTs).

--Vick jumped from 25th in the league in third-down passing to 14th Sunday. His third-down rating improved from 70.8 to 82.1 after completing five of seven third-down passes for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys.

--With four more sacks Sunday, the Eagles now have 22. All 22 have been by defensive linemen, including nine by Jason Babin. A breakdown of the Eagles’ sacks by down and quarter:

            BY DOWN

            1st down: 4

            2nd down: 7

            3rd down: 10

            4th down: 1

 

            BY QUARTER

            1Q: 3

            2Q: 7

            3Q: 5

            4Q: 7

 

DEFENDING WITTEN

One of the things at the top of the Eagles’ to-do list going into Sunday night’s game was neutralizing Jason Witten. Witten is one of the league’s best tight ends and has been a bear against the Eagles in his career. In 17 previous games, including the playoffs, he had 91 receptions for 1,055 yards and 7 touchdowns.

In their 34-7 win, the Eagles held Witten to four catches for 28 yards and no touchdowns. It was his second lowest receiving yards total in 17 games against them. He was held to 27 yards in a 21-20 Cowboys win on November 14, 2005.

Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo matched up cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha with Witten a lot. Linebacker Jamar Chaney also spent a good deal of time with him and turned in one of the best coverage performances of his young career. On the few occasions when Witten caught a pass, the Eagles tackled well and limited his yards after the catch. In the Cowboys’ previous three games, Witten had been targeted 20 times by Romo and caught 17 passes. On Sunday, he was targeted 12 times.

 

BREAKING DOWN LESEAN

McCoy ‘s 30 rushing attempts and 185 rushing yards both were career highs. So were his 200 yards from scrimmage.

McCoy’s combined 58 rushing attempts and 62 touches against the Cowboys and Redskins are far and away the most he’s had in back-to-back games in his career. He had 42 carries and 49 touches in Weeks 2-3 v. the Falcons and the Giants.

Brian Westbrook had 60-plus touches in back-to-back games just twice in his career. He had 61 touches in games against Tennessee and Indianapolis in 2006, and 64 touches in back-to-back games against Arizona and the Giants in ‘08. For what it’s worth, after those games against the Cardinals and Giants, Westbrook surpassed 70 rushing yards just twice more in his career.

McCoy had seven runs of eight yards or more against the Cowboys. That gives him 34 on 135 carries this season. He’s got 12 runs of 15 or more yards.

He is averaging 8.2 yards per carry in the fourth quarter this season, and 6.5 yards per carry in the second half.  Four hundred seventeen of his 754 rushing yards have come in the second half.

Seventeen of his 30 rushing attempts and 104 of McCoy’s 185 yards Sunday came out of two-tight end sets. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry out of two-tight end sets as both Brent Celek and Clay Harbor did a good job of run-blocking.

In the Eagles’ first six games, McCoy had converted just 11 of 19 situations of two yards or less into first downs and/or touchdowns. Against the Cowboys, he was 5-for-5.

McCoy’s most impressive run of the game may have been his 11-yard run on the Eagles’ second possession. The play was supposed to go inside, but nose tackle Jay Ratliff read the play and was waiting for him. But the running back put on the brakes about a foot in front of Ratliff and bounced it outside before the nose tackle could get his hands on him. Linebacker Sean Lee then looked like he was going to be able stop him for no gain. But McCoy kicked it into high gear and veered around him to pick up the first down.

 

QUICK THOUGHTS

--Cowboys linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer are going to be seeing wham blocks in their sleep after the heavy dose of them they got from the Eagles. Both of the Eagles’ tight ends -- Brent Celek and Clay Harbor -- had a lot of success with the across-the-formation blocks on Ware and Spencer. Celek had a nice wham block on Ware that opened up the hole for LeSean McCoy on his 35-yard run that set up McCoy’s two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Harbor sealed off Spencer with a wham block that sprung McCoy for a 22-yard gain in the third quarter on a second-and-18 play.

--Jason Babin has developed a pretty good spin move that he used on both of his sacks Sunday. It’s not in Dwight Freeney’s league, but it’s not bad, as the Cowboys’ rookie right tackle, Tyron Smith, will attest.

--Mike Patterson wasn’t credited with any of the Eagles’ four sacks of Romo Sunday, but the defensive tackle gift-wrapped two of them for Babin and Trent Cole. He set up Cole’s second-quarter sack when he beat Cowboys left guard Montrae Holland and flushed Romo out of the pocket and right into Cole’s arms.He got inside pressure on Babin’s fourth-quarter sack, forcing Romo to step up, where Babin met him.

--Remember the problems Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield gave Vick and the Eagles last December with all of those slot blitzes? Well, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan tried it on consecutive plays on the Eagles’ first possession Sunday with safety Gerald Sensabaugh. On a second-and-nine at the Dallas 12, Sensabaugh came off the edge on a blitz and forced a hurried incompletion from Vick on a pass to DeSean Jackson. Sensabaugh blitzed again from the same side on the very next play. But Vick saw it coming pre-snap and audibled out of the play that had been called and went with a quick wide receiver screen to Jeremy Maclin on the same side that Sensabaugh was blitzing from. Vick still had to get the ball around Sensabaugh, which he did with a nifty sidearm throw. Maclin, with great blocking help from left tackle Jason Peters and left guard Evan Mathis, took it in for a touchdown.

 

– Paul Domowitch

Paul Domowitch Daily News NFL Columnist
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Paul Domowitch Daily News NFL Columnist
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