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Defense Falters In Second Half

Posted Dec 3, 2012

Arlington, TX -- The Eagles entered halftime Sunday night with a 17-10 lead against the Dallas Cowboys and appeared primed to snap the team's seven-game losing streak. But things slipped away from the Eagles in the second half, thanks in large part to a defensive effort that fell in vain as the Cowboys scored touchdowns on each of their first three offensive possessions in the second half.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, in fact, was perfect after halftime, completing all 10 of his passes for three touchdowns and 169 yards, good for a perfect quarterback rating. Romo's performance was another in a string of dominant performances by opposing quarterbacks against the Eagles of late. In the last five games, opposing quarterbacks have tossed 16 touchdowns against zero interceptions and have completed over 75 percent of their passes.

"It's killing us that the numbers are like that for these quarterbacks," said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

Once again, there appeared to be defensive lapses in the secondary that left opposing receivers all but uncovered at times. That was compounded by an inability for the defense to make big plays when called upon. The Cowboys were only forced to punt once in the second half, on their final offensive possession with under a minute remaining - a punt that was returned by Damaris Johnson for a 98-yard touchdown.

Perhaps the turning point Sunday night came on the play when it appeared the Eagles did stop the Cowboys. On the final play of the third quarter, the Cowboys faced a 4th-and-inches from the Eagles' 39-yard-line. Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was met at the line of scrimmage by Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans and defensive tackle Cedric Thornton for what was initially spotted as short of the first-down marker. But Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett challenged the spot of the ball and, in a rare occurrence in the NFL, the referees overturned the spot.

Three plays later, Romo would find Cowboys receiver Miles Austin for a 27-yard touchdown pass.

"We were on an emotional high," said Ryans. "We felt like it's a big stop there. But when it got overturned, we still have to come out and get over that and move on and get a stop. We didn't. I'd say it had little to do with the overturned call, it's just us not getting off the field."

In all, it was another disappointing performance for a defense that has struggled mightily during the team's eight-game losing streak.

"Each week becomes way harder," said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was unable to tackle Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant on a quick pass from the Eagles' 9-yard-line that gave the Cowboys a 31-27 lead. "The offense gives us good position to win the game and the second half, Romo does basically what he wants to do. It's hard to come back and watch film and correct it because it hurts.

"I look at film and just from a personal standpoint, I have a whole lot of, 'Wow's,' like, 'Wow, what are you doing?' At some point, I think things just keep going back and you fight so hard not to do wrong until you end up just doing wrong and you don't allow yourself to just go out there and be you. I think we just have to go out there and be us as individuals, stop worrying about everything and just go play."

One of the few bright spots on defense came courtesy of third-year defensive end Brandon Graham, who was making his first start of the season following the release of Jason Babin earlier in the week. Graham notched 1.5 sacks on the night, though both came in the first half. Following the game, Graham took little solace in his performance after another loss.

"I'm just tired of this feeling," he said. "I feel for the fans. I'm so frustrated ... I just really thought we were going to have this one. I don't know what else to tell you right now other than I'm going to try to come back Wednesday and try to correct it."

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