Three drives. All deep in their own territory. No first downs. Fourteen total yards.
Punt. Punt. Punt.
The Eagles’ inability to move the ball in the fourth quarter made life very difficult Sunday afternoon.
They escaped with a 28-23 win, but the Cowboys followed each of those Eagles’ 3-and-outs with drives inside the Eagles’ 30. Some timely defensive plays saved the day – the Cowboys only netted six points on those three possessions – but 14 yards on three drives – for a team that prides itself on being able to run out the clock late in games – is concerning.
Nick Sirianni spoke Monday about those nine plays that averaged 56 inches each and even defended the bizarre 3rd-and-3 deep ball to AJ Brown with five minutes left.
“I think when you just look at the stats and don’t look at the context of the way that the plays happen, I guess it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, three three-and-outs,'” Sirianni said.
“Well, we’d like to keep those drives going, of course. We would like to convert backed up, of course. We’d like to keep a drive going in a four-minute (drill). But those are played the way they’re played because of the situation of the game and that we’re in and where the ball is on the field.”
FIRST DRIVE: Leading 28-17 with 10:07 left, the Eagles took over on downs at their own 1-yard line after Reed Blankenship stopped Luke Schoonmaker inches shy of the goal line. The Eagles got two yards on a Jalen Hurts keeper, then Hurts threw incomplete to Olamide Zaccheaus and completed a short pass to DeVonta Smith two yards shy of the sticks. Punt.
SECOND DRIVE: After the Cowboys drove 52 yards in 2:13, the Eagles took over on their own 25 with 6:22 left. Runs by D’Andre Swift for two yards and Hurts for five yards left the Eagles with a 3rd-and-2, and that’s when Hurts threw deep down the left sideline incomplete to AJ Brown. Punt.
THIRD DRIVE: The Eagles drove inside the Eagles’ 30 on their next drive – 45 yards in 3:21 – but went out on downs, giving the Eagles the ball on their own 29 with 1:17 left. Three Swift runs netted minus-one yard, and the third one was almost a disaster, when Swift collided with AJ Brown and fumbled. Tyler Steen recovered at the 31st Punt.
The Cowboys outgained the Eagles 163-14 in the fourth quarter, had 14 first downs to none for the Eagles and held the ball for 11:18 to 3:42 for the Eagles.
The Eagles’ longest play in the quarter went for five yards. The Cowboys had plays of 12, 13, 14, 14, 16, 21, 23 and 32 yards … just in the game’s final eight minutes.
Sirianni on the first drive: “When you’re backed up, on the minus one-yard line, you’re limited, obviously, in the things that you can do. So the backed-up one, we gave ourselves some breathing room on the first play with a sneak, we were a little off on the next play and then just didn’t convert on the screen that we threw on the last play. We felt good about all those, gave ourselves some breathing room and gave Braden (Mann) an opportunity to punt the ball back to them.”
Sirianni on the second drive: “It looked like AJ had a hard time seeing that ball, for whatever reason on that one, but I like the aggressive play called by Brian (Johnson) and the aggressiveness of Jalen on that one. That’s been a high-percentage, a high-completion-percentage play for us. We’ve been pretty successful on those go balls, it just didn’t work out on that particular one, but a 1-on-1 with AJ Brown and the tear that he’s been on the vertical route? I’ll take that. I’ll take that any day of the week. And we just didn’t execute on that particular one for a flukey reason.”Sirianni on the third drive: “As that drive started, as we look at it, I’m good if we give them the ball back with under 40 seconds or under 50 seconds, inside the 20, with no timeout. … (On the fumble), just a little bit of an execution (error) there. I’ll leave it at that. We’ve got to coach it better. And we just had a little bit of an execution error on that particular one. We ran that play a couple of times (earlier) in the game. Didn’t have an execution error on those. But we just got to make sure in different scenarios that we do a good job of reminding them of those things. But that can’t happen.”