Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
Eagles feel good heading to Dallas
It is less than a month since the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys last played each other, but even in that relatively short period of time the Eagles have become a different team.
After losing to Dallas 27-20 at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 11, the Eagles were hammered mercilessly by the New Orleans Saints. Since that 48-7 beatdown, though, the Eagles have turned around their season, and will now play the Cowboys in Arlington, Tex., on Sunday for first place in the NFC East.
"We've talked about the New Orleans thing before, but listen, the New Orleans deal was, I think for us as a team, it wasn't us, No. 1," said head coach Doug Pederson. "It wasn't how we expect to play or expect to finish a football game in that game. So we've kind of put ourselves in a position where each game from then on, really matters, and just focusing in on each week.
"The guys have done a great job during the week of practice, preparing themselves and understanding the game plan and I think what you're seeing, too, is we had a lot of young guys - we had some injuries in that game and a lot of young guys play in that game. And what you're seeing now is those young guys getting a little more confident each week every time they are out on the field defensively. And then the offense is catching a little bit of rhythm right now. It's been a good last couple of weeks against two quality division opponents."
Since losing to the Saints, the Eagles have beaten the New York Giants, 25-22, and the Washington Redskins, 28-13, to reach 6-6 and pull within a game of the 7-5 Cowboys.
When the Eagles last played Dallas, they played without running back Darren Sproles and cornerback Sidney Jones, running back Josh Adams hadn't yet seized control of the position, and receiver Golden Tate was playing his first game as an Eagle since being acquired in a trade with the Detroit Lions.
Against Washington on Monday night, Sproles played in his first game since Sept. 6 and scored a 14-yard touchdown. His presence infused the offense with some life.
Adams had just seven carries for 47 yards in the first meeting as the Eagles ran for just 71 yards as a team. During their two-game win streak, he has carried the ball 42 times for 169 yards and a touchdown. Adams began the season on the practice squad but has made great strides recently.
Meanwhile, Tate is becoming more of a force on offense, and the team no longer looks like it is forcing the ball to him to get him involved. He scored his first touchdown as an Eagle, added a two-point conversion catch, and had seven catches for 85 yards on Monday night, and Jones is healthy again.
SERIES HISTORY: 116th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 64-51. Dallas won the first meeting this season, scoring 14 fourth-quarter points to outlast the Eagles in Philly, 27-20. Dallas got 151 yards rushing and 36 yards receiving from Ezekiel Elliott while the Eagles managed just 71 yards rushing.