The Dallas Cowboys‘ sixth game of 2022 was an unfortunate departure from the joys of their recent win streak. But while the 26-17 loss in Philadelphia was ultimately disappointing, Dallas rallied back from a 20-0 deficit to make the game interesting late and prove they can hang with the undefeated Eagles.
How did different parts of the team contribute to the early disaster and the comeback effort? Let’s break it down and grade their performance.
Cowboys Offense: C
On the positive side, the run game was strong with a 5.2 average per carry. Ezekiel Elliott had his best game of the season so far, getting 81 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries. Tony Pollard chipped in 11 carries for 44 yards. And while last week’s rushing stats were boosted by one major play, no single run went for more than 15 yards against the Eagles. This was just consistent production throughout the night.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to set up QB Cooper Rush and this passing offense for success. Rush’s mystical avoidance of turnovers was dispelled with three interceptions, a couple of which his lack of arm strength was a clear contributing factor. He also completed just 18 of 38 passing attempts and was unable to find any consistent rhythm.
There wasn’t much indication that the receivers were to blame. If anything, we saw WR CeeDee Lamb and TE Jake Ferguson make some good plays for extra yardage once the ball was in their hands. The rookie Ferguson also scored his first NFL touchdown and had social media chirping about just how much Dallas really needs to keep Dalton Schultz beyond 2022.
Even the offensive line doesn’t feel like a culprit in this loss. They gave up no sacks and there were only a few instances where pressure seemed to influence Rush’s decisions or throwing mechanics. And as we mentioned before, the run game was consistently effective thanks to strong blocking.
No, this one really seemed to come to the backup quarterback finally getting exposed. Thankfully, it looks like Dak Prescott will be returning this week to shore up that issue.
Cowboys Defense: B-
On paper, this would seem like a good game for the defense. They held the Eagles to just 268 total yards, had four sacks, and never gave up a play of more than 22 yards. But while Philadelphia’s total production was low, they were able to execute in key moments to extend drives, score three touchdowns, and make the mountain too high for Cooper Rush to climb.
A key to Philly’s success was limiting LB Micah Parsons‘ impact on the game. Normally a stat sheet stuffer, Parsons was held in check with just seven tackles and no sacks. Though he did have two pass deflections, Micah was unable to affect the game the way that Dallas has relied upon so much during their four-game win streak. And when the Eagles took some of their run-pass option plays over to his side, Micah was burned twice on a 4th-down conversion and later for a touchdown.
Granted, the Cowboys’ offensive issues also contributed here. Two of Rush’s interceptions set Philadelphia up on Dallas’ side of the field, one leading to a touchdown and another to a field goal. Those 10 points obviously mattered greatly in a nine-point loss.
Cowboys Special Teams: A-
It was another great outing for John Fassel’s crew. KaVontae Turpin had a 63-yard kick return and nearly broke loose on a couple more touches. Punter Bryan Anger bombed his two kicks for 60 and 59 yards each. The Eagles only had one decent return on the night with a 14-yard takeback on a punt.
Brett Maher’s miss from 59 yards late in the game hurt, obviously, but is hard to kill the kicker for. That’s a tough kick in any environment and especially a cold night in Philly. It wasn’t an egregious miss either, just a little wide right but having plenty of distance.
Cowboys Coaches: B-
Were the Cowboys unprepared for the Eagles? That’s hard to imagine given their division rivalry. This felt more like the players just getting hit in the mouth by the most talented team they’ve seen so far in 2022, and the talent disparity at quarterback finally having the effect we’ve been dreading since Dak Prescott’s injury.
If anything, you have to credit the coaches for how Dallas rallied in the second half and made it a fight again. Adjustments were clearly made that helped the offense find ways to produce and limited Philadelphia to just six points after halftime.
If I’m knocking anybody after this one it’s the much-lauded defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. As was mentioned before with the defense, the Eagles got what they wanted in several key moments that really dictated the outcome. A conversion on 4th-and-3 led to Philadelphia’s touchdown and Dallas has no answer when they went into that QB sneak package for a few other major 1st-down pickups.
Quinn has been getting wreaths hung around his neck all year for how well the defense has performed, and justifiably so. But while the offense was hamstrung by its quarterback, Dan has no personnel issues to blame for this one. He simply got outcoached by Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen in those key moments.