Week 5 Game Recap: Dallas Cowboys 24, Philadelphia Eagles 38
What you need to know
This was supposed to be the great return to Philadelphia by WR Terrell Owens, but Owens was virtually shut down in the game by the Eagles’ defense. Owens failed to catch a single pass until the third quarter, and later added just two more catches for a grand total of three catches for 45 yards despite leading the team with 13 targets. That number is somewhat deceiving, as nine of the 13 came in the fourth quarter and the Philadelphia secondary really tightened the coverage late in the game.
QB Drew Bledsoe was under constant pressure all game, getting sacked seven times, fumbling once and throwing three interceptions. While officially Bledsoe ran five times for 24 yards, none of those were planned. Bledsoe ran for his life more often than not and was able to dive just inside the pylon for a seven yard touchdown in the second quarter.
RBs Julius Jones and Marion Barber shared the carries, but not equally. Jones had 26 carries to Barber’s seven, as Jones seemed to be the feature back with his number being called at least five times every quarter. Jones got exactly 100 yards rushing, but only four first downs. Barber managed to get three on far fewer carries, and was able to score a touchdown on a third down from the Philadelphia two after Jones failed twice from the one yard line.
The Dallas defense did well early, forcing two turnovers and sacking McNabb three times. LB DeMarcus Ware had half of those sacks (1.5) and also recovered a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Two key players for the Eagles were game time decisions. WR Donte Stallworth sat out this game, but RB Brian Westbrook was able to go. Westbrook hit the ground running, catching the first two passes of the game for 35 yards, but he lost the handle on the second play and fumbled it to Dallas. He later added a five yard touchdown on the ground, but he contributed more as a receiver throughout the contest.
WR Hank Baskett got the starting role this week with Stallworth out, and he had the biggest game of his young career. He finished with over 100 yards for the first time, highlighted by a remarkable catch and run for 87 yards and a score in the third quarter.
QB Donovan McNabb posted gaudy numbers once again, throwing for two scores and running in a third touchdown on his own. McNabb connected with seven different receivers and continued to mix the short and medium passing game with the deep ball. Both of his touchdowns came on long passes, the first going to Baskett and the second a flea flicker for 40 yards to WR Reggie Brown.
The Philadelphia defense deserves special mention. The Eagles sacked QB Drew Bledsoe seven times, forced a fumble, and intercepted three passes, including a game winning 102 yard touchdown by DB Lito Sheppard.
What you ought to know
|QB Drew Bledsoe, Pass: 18 - 38 - 223 - 0 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 5 - 24 - 1|
Bledsoe was under duress all game. The Eagles hit him and pressured him and made him run all game long. Bledsoe finished the game with three interceptions and a lost fumble, as Philadelphia threw everything and everyone at him for much of the contest. He was sacked seven times, more than twice what the Cowboys had given up in their first three games combined.
Bledsoe was able to throw enough to pick up over 200 yards passing, but he was unable to throw for a touchdown. The pressure he was under did force him to run more than usual, and Bledsoe took matters into his own hands and ran in from seven yards out in the second quarter of the game. Even though the stats say he ran for 24 yards, it was not his intention to run for any of that. The defensive pressure forced Bledsoe to scramble for all that yardage.
|RB Julius Jones, Rush: 26 - 100 - 0, Rec: 1 - 22 - 0 (2 targets)|
Jones racked up 100 yards, but it did not seem like he was dominating on the ground. Only one of his 26 carries exceeded ten yards, as he ran for 11 yards and a first down in the second quarter for his longest carry. Jones was also stuffed twice at the Philadelphia goal line in the first quarter, unable to score the touchdown.
Jones was clearly the featured running back, getting at least five carries in every quarter. He also added a 22 yard catch in the final period.
Barber had just seven carries and 22 yards, yet he picked up three first downs on the ground, only one fewer then RB Julius Jones. He also took away Jones’ touchdown, as he scored from two yards away on a third down at the goal line after Jones had failed to get in on the first two tries.
Barber also added more production as a receiver. Barber was targeted once in every quarter, and he caught three of four targets for 26 yards receiving.
Polite had just one target in the second quarter and was a non-factor in the game.
Glenn benefited from all the attention that was paid towards WR Terrell Owens, and was able to get open quite often in the first half. Glenn caught all four balls thrown in his direction before halftime, catching them for between seven and 19 yards. The latter three were for 14, 14 and 19 yards respectively and each picked up a first down.
Glenn was limited to just one catch for seven yards on four second half targets, but he did provide more than just that. He succeeded in getting a 57 yard pass interference penalty in the final minute of the game on fourth down, setting Dallas up in the Eagles’ red zone down by just one touchdown. Unfortunately for Dallas, DB Lito Sheppard had other plans and returned a pass for a touchdown on the next series.
In what was billed as the “Return of T.O.” to Philadelphia, WR Terrell Owens had a very quiet game. In fact, Owens did not catch a single pass until the third quarter, a short pass of just nine yards. He was targeted just four times in the first three quarters, but with Dallas trailing that quickly changed. Owens become the most targeted Cowboy, getting nine balls thrown in his direction in the final 15 minutes. He caught just two of them for 36 yards and two first downs, but that was nowhere near what the Cowboys needed. Only one pass could really be classified as a drop, as DB Lito Sheppard blanketed Owens for much of the game.
Crayton caught two passes on three targets for short yardage. He snared a six yarder in the second quarter and doubled that to a 12 yard catch and a first down in the final period.
Witten was having a very productive game, catching four of his first five targets for 51 yards and four first downs, but that all changed on the sixth target. Witten was the intended receiver in the end zone in the final minute of the game, but Philadelphia DB Lito Sheppard stepped in and intercepted it, then returned the pass 102 yards for the final touchdown.
Fasano had just one target in the second quarter and was a non-factor in the game.
Vanderjagt made all four of his kicks on the day, converting three extra points and a 39 yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The field goal was very important at the time as it tied the score at 24.
RB Brian Westbrook was unable to pick up big chunks of yardage on the ground, as his longest carry went for eight yards. RB Correll Buckhalter faired only slightly better, getting a long of 11 yards in the final quarter. Dallas gave up just three rushing first downs and one touchdown to QB Donovan McNabb who dove in from the one yard line.
Dallas was able to bend but not break for the first half, but then the Eagles finally snapped through in the second half. Eagles QB Donovan McNabb hit two big plays, an 87 yard touchdown pass to WR Hank Baskett, and then a 40 yard flea flicker score to WR Reggie Brown. They Cowboys were able to sack McNabb three times in the first half and also forced a fumble that was returned for a score by LB DeMarcus Ware. Aside from that play and an early forced fumble after a catch by RB Brian Westbrook, the Cowboys did not force any additional turnovers.
|QB Donovan McNabb, Pass: 18 - 33 - 354 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 1 - 1|
McNabb had an above average first half, completing 60% of his attempts for 163 yards, but things got even better after halftime. First McNabb hit WR Hank Baskett on a deep pass that Baskett took 87 yards for his first NFL touchdown in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, McNabb worked with RB Correll Buckhalter on a flea flicker play that allowed McNabb to throw a perfect pass to WR Reggie Brown for a 40 yard touchdown. Even though he completed just six passes in the second half, he was able to get two passing touchdowns and nearly 200 yards after the half.
McNabb contributed only once as a ball carrier, as he dove in for a score after the Eagles failed to move the pile at the goal line. His one yard score was the third rushing TD for McNabb this season.
Despite concerns about his knee, Westbrook started the game and performed well right out of the gate. He caught two passes for 35 yards on the first two Eagles’ plays, but he fumbled the ball and lost possession on the second catch. While he did not contribute much statistically as a rusher, averaging just three yards on 11 carries for 33 yards, he did manage to score on the second drive of the game from five yards out. Westbrook contributed even more as a receiver, finishing with five catches for 53 yards, all in the first half.
Westbrook had five carries and just one target in the second half as QB Donovan McNabb got the passing game in gear with the wide receivers and TE LJ Smith. Despite only getting one second half target, Westbrook finished as the most targeted Eagles’ receiver with eight.
Buckhalter was used sparingly, getting three of his four carries in the fourth quarter. His mission was to move the chains and protect the lead, and he did pick up one first down in the final quarter. Overall his contributions were minimal.
|RB Thomas Tapeh, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (1 targets)|
Tapeh had one carry, and it was from the Dallas one yard line, but he could not break the plane for the score. He also caught one short pass but lost a yard in the second quarter.
Moats had one carry in the first quarter for two yards, so he was a non-factor.
Brown had just one catch in the first half for a paltry seven yards, and then stepped up the production after halftime. Brown caught a 15 yarder for a first down in the third quarter and then poured it on in the final period. He was the recipient of a deep QB Donovan McNabb pass on a flea flicker (with RB Correll Buckhalter) that he caught in stride 40 yards downfield for a touchdown. The scoring play put the Eagles up for good at 31-24.
Baskett scored his first NFL touchdown on an 87 yard strike from QB Donovan McNabb in the third quarter. Baskett caught the deep ball on the sideline, then broke a tackle and sprinted to the end zone to put the Eagles up 24-21. Baskett also had two catches for 25 combined yards in the first half. Two of his three other targets were deep balls that he did not have much of a play on, but it did show that he was used as a speed receiver to stretch the field. His 112 yards was his personal best game and the first 100 yard game of his young career.
Lewis was a forgotten receiver until the second half. He had three targets in the final 30 minutes, converting the last two for a 24 yard and an eight yard reception, respectively, in the fourth quarter. Both catches were also good enough for first downs.
Avant had two targets in the second half, but neither was catchable.
Smith caught just two passes in Week 5, but he got a lot out of his second catch. Smith caught a ball down the seam in stride and dashed down to inside the Dallas five yard line for a 60 yard reception in the second quarter. He was the intended receiver on the next play in the end zone, but the ball ticked right off of his hands. To be fair, it may have been tipped slightly at the line, but it did seem rather catchable.
Schobel caught one pass for 16 yards and a first down in the second quarter. It was his only target for the game.
Akers connected on a 27 yards field goal in the first quarter of the game, and then later added five extra points. He made all of his attempts.
Philadelphia gave up 146 total yards rushing, but did hold both RB Julius Jones and RB Marion Barber to less than four yards per carry. Despite the numbers, the Cowboys picked up 11 first downs on the ground and two scores, so they were able to move the ball when it counted. The Eagles made a valiant attempt to keep Dallas out of the end zone at the one yard line, holding Jones out of the end zone twice until Barber came in and scored on third down.
QB Drew Bledsoe was running for his life all game. The Eagles registered seven sacks and were in Bledsoe’s face all game, disrupting pass after pass. Bledsoe was struck on the arm a number of times to force a fluttering wobbler of a pass out into the secondary. The Eagles were able to grab hold of three Bledsoe passes, none more important that DB Lito Sheppard’s 102 yard touchdown in the final seconds of the game. They also forced a Bledsoe fumble in the opening period that helped the Eagles to an early lead.