Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys: NFL Week 17 Post-Game Analysis

This could’ve potentially been a significant game, but the Philadelphia Eagles have already clinched the NFC East and a berth in the playoffs. With their loss to Minnesota Vikings last week, they also lost a chance for a bye week heading into the playoffs. Now they are resting their starting quarterback Michael Vick for this game due to his thigh contusion, and Kevin Kolb will get his start again since early in this season.

The other Eagles inactives for this game are: running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson, defensive ends Trent Cole and Trevor Laws, cornerback Asante Samuel and middle lineback Stewart Bradley.

And, for the Dallas Cowboys, Jon Kitna will be active for this game but serve as a backup to Stephen McGee.

My observations for this “training ground” game for the Philadelphia Eagles backups and a must-have game for Dallas Cowboys and quasi-interim head coach Jason Garrett:

  • Both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys attempted to establish the run early.  The Cowboys running back Felix Jones and backup Philadelphia Eagles running back Jerome Harrison both had big runs early into the half, with Felix Jones being a bit more successful.
  • The Eagles and the Cowboys are still playing a rivalry game.  Both defenses stood their ground until late first quarter when Cowboys defense suffered from miscues.  But the Cowboys defense stepped up.
  • The Eagles defense was still playing aggressively.  Stephen McGee’s pocket kept on closing, and his rookie jitters wasn’t helping the Cowboys much into the half.
  • The Dallas Cowboys secondary was horrible in the first half. Kolb began finding holes in the secondary, even when passing to backup wide receivers.  Wide receiver Chad Hall, promoted from the practice squad, scored a touchdown early in the second quarter.
  • The pressure from the Cowboys defense forced Kevin Kolb to a defensive touchdown by DeMarcus Ware from 17 yards out. And once the pressure begun, the floodgates opened with DeMarcus Ware and his constant harassment of Kevin Kolb into and after the second quarter.
  • Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee has shown that he has mobility and enough intelligence to slide, unlike Michael Vick and enough intelligence to dive for the first down when tripped up short of the line.  He had rushed for 56 yards this game.
  • Cowboys Felix Jones was more effective than Eagles Jerome Harrison. Jones had 7.4 yards per carry whereas Harrison had 4.7 yards per carry on half the number of carries. Harrison still lacks the talent to be an elite running back, but he is more capable of a change-of-pace running back.
  • Eagles Kevin Kolb was still interception-prone, but Michael Vick is about as guilty.  Whereas Kolb is a pocket passer, Vick can cover his interceptions by scoring with his feet.
  • The Dallas Cowboys used the entire backfield in this game, including fullback Chris Gronkowski, Marion Barber and  Tashard Choice.
  • Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten demonstrated his Pro Bowl caliber play with 42 yards and 1 touchdown.
  • Eagles Jerome Harrison had a 99 yard game, just short of a 100 yard game.
  • Both quarterbacks had medicore statistics in this game. Stephen McGee had a 68.0 quarterback rating with a touchdown, and Kevin Kolb had a 37.0 rating on 2 interceptions and a touchdown.

With this cold and rainy game at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles lost to the Cowboys 14-13.  For the Cowboys, Stephen McGee, on his first NFL start, wasn’t impressive, but he did get the win and helped his coach Jason Garrett possibly secure his position as head coach for next year.

The Philadelphia Eagles will play the Green Bay Packers next week in a wild-card game.  Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers won’t be easy to stop.  With the blueprints from the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants on stopping Michael Vick, this formidable Packers defense will be a handful.  They know that Vick gets jumpy when he gets hit too often, and with this upcoming game, it should be the same.


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