This game was much closer than it should have been, but the Cowboys defense was able to close it out by way of a fumble returned for a touchdown by Morris Claiborne. Just imagine them holding onto a thin lead, without the fumble return, and then the Eagles return the punt for a touchdown. The return by Claiborne was the difference in the game.
But the mistake was on special teams, so let’s not take anything away from a depleted defense that did what they had to at the end to seal the victory. It was very frustrating to watch the back and forth nature of this game, knowing how terrible the Eagles have been this year. But I suppose that goes back to all the Cowboys defensive injuries and the confusion they are dealing with as other newer players, that are not as good, continue to be integrated into this defense.
One thing for sure, DeMarcus Ware’s hit on Eagles Quarterback Nick Foles on the first offensive play of the game did not end up being the trend I hoped to see for the rest of the game.
After another slow start, that caused them to have to play from behind, the Cowboys were able to put points on the board without going to a no-huddle offense. The most notable use of the no-huddle was when Tony Romo tried to get the next play off before replays could be called to review a couple of catches by Jason Witten.
No doubt one big difference for the Cowboys on offense was having DeMarco Murray back after missing six games. The difference he made in the running game, which was substantial, also made a big difference in the passing game. A good running game keeps the opposing defense honest by forcing them to devote more manpower to stopping the run.
And that is also the key to making play action work. The hesitation caused by Romo faking the handoff, keeps the linebackers out of the passing play and allows more room for the receivers to work themselves open. There were still several frustrating penalties, but less than in many games we have seen.
However, a major source of aggravation was seeing infractions by the Eagles that should have been penalized, but were not. There were several instances of holding on the Eagles offensive line and hands to the face by their defensive line that were just not called. But I’ll take the win.
If I were the one handing out game balls, there would not been enough of them available for me, because it really was a team effort. But if I had to be that selective, I would choose the following players:
DeMarco Murray-The difference he makes in the running game makes the whole offense work.
Tony Romo-Not just any player can do what he is able to behind this offensive line. It was also a record night for Tony, passing for more touchdowns than any quarterback in Cowboys history.
Dez Bryant-Two touchdowns, catching the balls that came his way and not making the game killing mistake gets my game ball.
Morris Claiborne-His heads-up play of seeing the fumble on the ground and running it back for a touchdown put the game away.
Honorable mention goes to Miles Austin for the touchdown he came up with.
We’re all feeling good tonight, but where do we go from here? A defense that had a difficult time with the depleted offense of the Eagles certainly has some challenges ahead with the likes of the Bengals and Steelers. Let’s hope we find a way to shut them down enough on defense and score enough on offense to win.