All the great numbers from Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy didn’t matter. The Dallas Cowboys were in excellent position to pull of a dramatic victory. If it wasn’t for Brandon Boykin intercepting a bad pass from Kyle Orton, the Philadelphia Eagles might have been out of the playoffs for a third consecutive season.
It came down to some big defense plays to seal the game, pulling off the 24-22 win. The Cowboys came back from 0-10 and 7-17 through some precision field goal kicking by Dan Bailey to make a game of it again. With 6:09 left in the fourth quarter, it seemed like the Eagles were finally putting the game to bed. The Cowboys struggled to get anything more than touchdown with Kyle Orton at quarterback, but on 4th and 9, Orton connected with Dez Bryant to put the Cowboys only two points behind the Eagles, 4:00 minutes left in the game. The Cowboys went for the two point conversion, but Cary Williams managed to punch the ball away before it reached Bryant.
The Eagles usually efficient offense botched up the next drive, making it a 3-and-out, giving the Cowboys the chance to start from their own 32. Kyle Orton overthrew Miles Austin, Brandon Boykin was there for the interception, and thus another season finale ended in disappointment for the Cowboys, while the Eagles got to the postseason without their high powered offense doing most of the work when it mattered the most.
We kept fighting. We believed in each other. When the offense was struggling, the defense picked us up. With the stats and the records, none of that stuff means anything, if you don’t win in the end. That’s the most important thing.
The Cowboys went into the game with 5-0 record against NFC East rivals, but being unable to slow down LeSean McCoy (131 yards, 27 carries) or win the turnovers battle (Eagles 1, Cowboys 3) meant it was too much of an uphill battle when considering they were playing without Tony Romo. No matter what the critics say about him and his late-game gaffes, putting Kyle Orton on the field instead of him made it quite unlikely that they’ll end up as winners.
Orton did a decent job considering he hasn’t started since 2011, completing 30-of-46 passes for 358 yards, two for touchdowns and two intercepted. The quarterback change didn’t stop the Cowboys from putting the ball in the air while DeMarco Murray carried the ball 17 times, gaining only 51 yards against the excellent run-defense the Eagles presented this season.
The Cowboys tried using their best asset against Nick Foles, their pass rush, without too much success. They blitzed him on 46% of his dropbacks, but Foles was 9-of-11 for 131 yards and two touchdowns against such pressure. Foles’ 9.9 yards per attempt is the second-best in the NFL against added pressure, and he also did a lot better than in week 7, when the Cowboys actually hit him so hard and often he had to be taken out of the game.
How confident are the Eagles going into their first playoff game in three years? Their home record isn’t formidable, but they have won 7 of their last 8 games. They didn’t put on the best of performances against the Dallas Cowboys, which might suggest that the pressure is going to get to these players when they play at home against an awful road team like the Saints.