The Dallas Cowboys four-game winning streak was snapped on Sunday night at the hands of the undefeated, NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles. With the 26-17 loss, Dallas moves to 4-2 and falls to third in the division.
Cooper Rush and the Cowboys offense made some early mistakes that were too much to overcome. Media members like Troy Aikman had quotes last week about Rush possibly retaining the starting job, even when Dak Prescott returns. That take can undoubtedly be put to rest.
Here’s a breakdown of just what went wrong for the Cowboys:
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Slow start too much to overcome
The Cowboys were flat to start the game and it wound up being too much to come back from. Here’s how each Dallas offensive possession went in the first half:
- Turnover on downs
- Field goal
The offense struggled on every level in the first half. Rush had 36 passing yards and two interceptions. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for 37 rushing yards. CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup combined for 17 yards on two catches.
This meant the Cowboys defense was on the field constantly, and the Eagles offense took advantage. QB Jalen Hurts had 111 yards and a touchdown. His top targets were A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith, who had 82 yards. Philadelphia was also able to control the line of scrimmage, rushing for 73 yards.
Things changed in the second half and the Cowboys deserve credit for nearly coming back and winning the game. Dallas outscored Philadelphia 14-6 in the last two quarters. But the Cowboys needed to play perfectly to complete the comeback, and they couldn’t get it done.
Rush’s strength became his weakness
Rush had his worst career game as a starter. He was inaccurate and constantly putting balls in danger of being intercepted. Rush threw three picks but in reality, he should’ve had a few more.
His first interception set the Eagles up at the Cowboys 44 yard line. Philadelphia would score a touchdown on the drive.
Rush’s second pick allowed the Eagles to start the drive on Dallas’ 46 yard line, and they cashed in on a field goal.
That 10-point swing was the difference in the game. If the Cowboys avoided the turnovers, they may have punted away and prevented the Eagles from lighting up the scoreboard.
Rush’s third and final interception came late in the fourth quarter as Dallas was driving to make it a one-possession game. The pick by Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson clinched the win for Philadelphia.
Eagles offense controlled the line of scrimmage
The Cowboys have a below average run defense, and the Eagles exploited that on Sunday night. Philadelphia’s offensive linemen controlled the line of scrimmage, and the Eagles had no problem converting on a handful of third-and-short situations.
Philadelphia finished with 136 rushing yards on the night. Miles Sanders led the way with 71 yards and a score, followed by Hurts with 27 yards.
Dan Quinn and the Cowboys defense needs to eliminate this weakness or it will surely come back to be Dallas’ fatal flaw as the season continues.
The Cowboys inability to stop the run prematurely ended its season in the Wild Card round last year. The San Francisco 49ers ran for 169 yards in its 23-17 defeat of the Cowboys. If things don’t change, it’ll be deja vu all over again.