Philadelphia Eagles blow early lead vs. Dallas Cowboys, get ousted from playoff contention
ARLINGTON, Texas – DeSean Jackson flipped into the end zone and the Philadelphia Eagles were seemingly on their way to a winner-take-all game against Washington next week.
Then the offense stopped producing and the defense didn’t hold up its end.
A 37-17 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday eliminated the Eagles (4-10-1) from playoff contention in the woeful NFC East. Dallas (6-9) stayed alive along with Washington (6-9) and the New York Giants (5-10).
The Eagles had reached the postseason three straight seasons, winning the Super Bowl three years ago.
“As the leader of the team, it starts with me,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said about the team’s problems. “If I don’t look at myself in the mirror, it’s hard for me to correct anyone else.”
Making his third start since replacing Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts threw for 342 yards and a touchdown and ran for 69, but he also had two interceptions and lost a fumble.
“It’s never about one guy,” Pederson said. “Football takes all 11 offensively, defensively and on special teams to get the job done.”
The Eagles took a 14-3 lead in the first quarter after Hurts connected with Jackson on an 81-yard TD pass. It was Jackson’s first game in two months and his first TD since Week 1 last year.
But the offense couldn’t finish off any drives the rest of the way and the defense fell apart once Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox left the game with a stinger.
“I’m frustrated for sure,” defensive back Jalen Mills said. “I was lucky enough to win a world title at a young age so at that point my expectations are at the highest. Definitely frustrated I’m not getting a chance to play in the postseason. This team has so much potential. It’s frustrating we came up short knowing we had an opportunity to get in.”
The Eagles had plenty of chances down 30-17, but turned it over on downs and turnovers on three straight possessions in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys scored again. Philadelphia then turned it over one more time.
After Darius Slay returned an interception to the Cowboys 28 late in the third quarter, the Eagles had an excellent opportunity to narrow a 13-point deficit. Instead, they committed one holding penalty and two false starts and went for it and failed on fourth-and-15 instead of trying a 51-yard field goal.
They had a first down at the Cowboys 15 midway through the fourth quarter, but Hurts threw an interception on third down.
They had a first down at the Cowboys 18 on their next possession, but Hurts fumbled it away.
“It’s a big-time learning experience,” Hurts said. “I have to step away from it, evaluate it and learn from it. Those guys believe in me to get it done. … We got stagnant. Had great opportunities to put points on the board. Those are perfect opportunities to score points. We stopped ourselves due to lack of execution. A lot to learn from on my end. I take it personally. We’ll be better for it.”