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Rested Eagles Benefit From 0-3 NFC East

Posted Nov 12, 2017

It was early in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys-Falcons game on Sunday when Dallas radio play-by-play announcer Brad Sham summed up the Cowboys’ day: “Pathetic. Just pathetic. That’s what this is.” Dallas lost 27-7, capping an 0-for-3 day by the NFC East as the Eagles enjoyed their bye weekend.

It was early in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys-Falcons game on Sunday when Dallas radio play-by-play announcer Brad Sham summed up the Cowboys’ day: “Pathetic. Just pathetic. That’s what this is.” Dallas lost 27-7, capping an 0-for-3 day by the NFC East as the Eagles enjoyed their bye weekend.

It’s back-to-work time for the Eagles after a wonderful bye weekend as they eye Sunday’s prime-time game in Dallas against the 5-4 Cowboys. It’s far too early to speculate on what the division is going to look like when January 1 rolls around, but right now it’s the Eagles and everyone else.

At 8-1, the Eagles have a three-game lead on Dallas and a four-game lead plus a head-to-head sweep of Washington. The Giants are in the throes of a miserable season at 1-8.

Of course, the Eagles are thinking only about Dallas, and rightfully so. That 9-3 Eagles team in 2014 that seemed so primed for a playoff run ended up 10-6 and out of the postseason, so the lesson is to keep the focus on the week ahead, and that week alone.

With that in mind, watching Dallas play on Sunday and listening to the Cowboys’ radio broadcast was enlightening. Dallas took a beating in Atlanta, in every way. Already without running back Ezekiel Elliott, who served the first game of his six-game NFL-mandated suspension on Sunday, and minus Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith (groin), the Cowboys lost star linebacker Sean Lee late in the first quarter after he aggravated a hamstring injury, and Dallas just had no answer for an Atlanta team playing with urgency.

Dallas took a 7-0 lead early in the game after an interception of Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan put the Cowboys in prime scoring position, and quarterback Dak Prescott scooted into the end zone on a keeper and it looked like maybe the Cowboys could pull out a game in a tough road spot.

But no chance.

Not as the offensive line, mostly left tackle Chaz Green, who replaced Smith, gave up a total of eight quarterback sacks, six to Adrian Clayborn (the most sacks the Cowboys have allowed to an individual player in a single game). Not as the defense allowed Atlanta to convert 7 of 13 third downs and churn out 132 rushing yards.

A late first-half sequence hurt the Cowboys badly. They trailed 10-7 and had the football at the Atlanta 39-yard line with a first down. But Clayborn beat Green and got to Prescott, who then ripped the football away from the Cowboys’ quarterback for a killer Dallas giveaway.

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In the third quarter, Atlanta took the opening kickoff and went on a touchdown drive to make it 17-7, and then Dallas got something going in the running game with Alfred Morris and eventually set up Mike Nugent for a 38-yard field goal attempt. His kick missed off the right upright, and the Falcons took over and ground down the Dallas defense for another touchdown drive and, just like that, it was 24-7 Atlanta.

The Eagles have put themselves into extremely favorable position in the NFC East and, truly, in the NFC. It is that time of the year when we look at what teams did, and there were three in the NFC that impressed on Sunday – Los Angeles blowing out Houston, Minnesota whipping Washington at FedEx Field, and New Orleans trampling the Bills on the road and in the cold.

As the Eagles get back on the practice field on Monday at the NovaCare Complex, they’re going to be thinking about Dallas, the first opponent in a tough final seven games of the regular season. The Rivalry is renewed with the Cowboys, which is perfect for an Eagles team that has won seven consecutive games and is coming off a bye week. If there is any chance of looking ahead, well, that doesn’t happen with Dallas on the schedule.

The bye week came and went and the Eagles are in better position now than they were a week ago. That’s how it works, generally. The bye week is a wonderful sight on the schedule and the Eagles took advantage by: 1. Locking up defensive tackle Tim Jernigan to a four-year contract; 2. Resting and recovering physically and mentally, and 3. Seeing the NFC East take an 0-3 pounding on Sunday. Welcome back from the bye weekend, everyone. Sunday night at Dallas just can’t get here quickly enough.

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