Another week, another loss for the Dallas Cowboys. This time to the Philadelphia Eagles, in overtime, 33-27. Six in a row, and in most of them, despite their painful problems on offense, the Cowboys had at least one shot at winning the game.
The Cowboys for once didn’t struggle moving down the field, finishing with 411 yards. Matt Cassel didn’t avoid any interceptions, but wasn’t afraid of throwing deeper than before, finishing with 299 yards, three touchdown passes and an interception. Darren McFadden ran for 117 yards and the team was limited to just 4 punts. They dominated time of possession (38:19 vs 25:42). But couldn’t get in the end zone when it mattered, and lost the coin toss in overtime, allowing the Eagles to convert a fourth down and get the game winning touchdown, a 41-yard touchdown to Jordan Matthews from Sam Bradford.
The defense couldn’t stop the run. Bradford was good with 292 yards and a touchdown pass, but the Eagles running for 172 yards did most of the damage. The Cowboys defense only got one sack, with Greg Hardy being the one to do it. Still, as Eagles offensive linemen later said, it seemed as if the events of the last few days have taken a toll on him, and he wasn’t as effective and menacing as usual. The Cowboys once again finished with 0 takeaways, making it only four through the first eight games of the season.
An exhausted defense and an offense that seems to struggle so much in moving up the field. After the Eagles made it 21-14, it was only a 79-yard kick return by Lucky Whitehead that made the touchdown by Dez Bryant possible. Cassel did put the Cowboys in field goal range on the final drive, but some very soft pass interference calls made it possible. You never got the sense that he, or the players around him, believe that they’re going to come through.
Maybe this is where the page turns for the Cowboys? Cassel finally getting a rhythm with his receivers (both Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley had over 100 yards receptions)? McFadden looking comfortable behind the offensive line? It seems the whole passing-running-defense trinity can’t work for the Cowboys at once, and when you’re playing with a quarterback that’s going to have one or two big mistakes each game and doesn’t strike a shred of fear in the defense he’s facing, that’s a difficult situation to be in.
The Cowboys have lost six consecutive games for the first time since 1989, the year they began building towards the dynasty of the 1990’s, winning three Super Bowls in four years. Except for getting crushed by the New England Patriots midway through this streak (but who hasn’t been?), they’ve been within one score of tying or winning the game each time. They did lose to the Falcons by 11 points, but that game was also within their grasp and they blew it late.
Some losses do help a team win the next week. However, for the Cowboys, who have the November 22 date marked with a huge, fiery red marker, it might be too late now to catch the playoff train. The NFC East isn’t very good, but the Cowboys aren’t very good either without their starting quarterback. They’re two games behind the 8th spot in the Wild Card race and 2.5 games behind in the division title race, and it might get worse before it gets better.