Just CHILL: Cowboys Grades vs. Eagles; Getting the second half started right
Run offense: B – Coach Jason Garrett said Felix Jones was the healthiest he has been all season and it showed as he rushed for 71 yards on 16 carries to lead a strong rushing attack. The Cowboys rushed 25 times for 101 yards in the game and took some pressure off the passing game. Undrafted rookie free agent Lance Dunbar added six carries for 20 yards and fullback Lawrence Vickers added a surprising 13-yard burst.
Pass offense: B-- Quarterback Tony Romo didn’t have a big game numbers was but he was efficient and mistake free, completing 19 of 26 passes for 209 yards for two touchdowns. He recorded the second highest quarterback rating of the season of 122.1. Romo tossed two touchdown passes, including a perfect 30-yard strike to Dez Bryant, who made a spectacular diving catch. But Romo’s best play was avoiding three would-be sacks to make a magical 25-yard throw to Miles Austin. Romo however was sacked three times in the game and took a number of hits as the line continued to have its issues. Bryant also had a 49-yard catch to go with the touchdown in what was clean performance that featured two timely big plays.
Rush defense: C-- The Eagles did some damage against the Cowboys on the ground, rushing 23 times for 91 yards. They got 82 yards on 16 carries from LeSean McCoy. They likely could have done more if they would have run it a few times, especially McCoy but that is the curious play calling of Andy Reid. Linebackers Bruce Carter and Anthony Spencer were the team’s best defenders. Carter led the way with 10 tackles and helped the Cowboys live without the injured Sean Lee easier than expected.
Pass defense: C—Cornerback Brandon Carr scored the first touchdown of his career when he returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown. It was a huge play in the game and proved to be the biggest highlight for the pass defense _ though they got a sack and forced fumble for a touchdown in the waning moments. But all was not pretty as the Eagles threw two touchdown passes, including a shocking 44-yarder to Jeremy Maclin by overmatched rookie quarterback Nick Foles because of a blown coverage by safety Charlie Peprah. And then there was rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne who had a forgetful day with five penalties, including two offsides and to two defensive holding calls, in addition to giving up a touchdown pass.
Special teams: A -- Wide receiver Dwayne Harris grabbed a strangle hold on the punt return job with a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown that proved to be the game-deciding play. It followed big return last week in his first game replacing Dez Bryant on punt returns. The job is now firmly his. Ho hum, Dan Bailey made a 30-yard field goal. And Brian Moorman continued to impress with an average of 41.1 yards on a whopping seven punts.
Coaching: A—Jerry Jones talked about his tough week But nobody had a tougher week that Garrett who had to listen to rumors about Super Bowl winning coaches Sean Payton and Mike Holmgren taking his job. He also had to suffer criticism from former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson about him running a country club atmosphere in the locker room with no accountability. The Cowboys didn’t have a clean effort. But Garrett kept his team focused on the task at hand and they got the job done against a similarly distracted and flawed team in the Eagles.