Not much went right for the Eagles on Monday night at Dallas in a 41-21 loss to the Cowboys. A dominating first half propelled Dallas to a 20-7 lead after two quarters and an interception returned for a touchdown early in the third quarter pushed the lead to 20 points and then a touchdown early in the fourth quarter was the dagger as the Eagles fell to 1-2.
The "good" news is that the Eagles won't have any time to dwell on the loss, with Kansas City coming to town on Sunday. Here are some observations from the defeat ...
1. Quarterback Jalen Hurts didn't turn the ball over in the first two games of the season, but he threw a pair of interceptions on Monday night. The first ended the team's first offensive drive when he underthrew wide receiver Jalen Reagor down the right sideline.
The Eagles' defense made its big play of the night two plays later when Javon Hargrave sacked quarterback Dak Prescott and forced a fumble that Fletcher Cox caught in the air in the end zone (more on that below). Hurts' second interception happened on the first drive of the third quarter when he tried to get the ball outside to DeVonta Smith on the left sideline, but Smith fell down and cornerback Trevon Diggs made the interception and returned it for a touchdown. Hurts' final numbers: 25-of-39 passing for 326 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. But the first-half numbers were far more telling – Hurts was 7-of-12 for 102 yards and the offense gained just three first downs and 121 yards, failing to convert on four third-down opportunities.
2. Here is what the Eagles' offense did in its first seven possessions: Interception (43 net yards on drive), punt (5 yards), punt (7 yards), punt (29 yards), punt (27 yards), interception (28 yards), and punt (4 yards). By that time, the score was 27-7 midway through the third quarter.
"We knew we had to score with this team because we knew they were able to score and score quickly," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said. "I just felt like we would get the ball to midfield and it would stall out for different reasons, whether I didn't call a good enough play, whether there was a pre-snap penalty or a penalty, whether there was some pressure. It was coaching, it was execution. We all had a hand in this loss."
3. The defense did an excellent job keeping Dallas out of the end zone early in the game, stuffing Prescott on a quarterback sneak on fourth down and taking the ball away for the touchdown, but for the rest of the game the defense didn't have answers for a Dallas offense that rolled up 27 first downs – 19 of them in the first half – 380 total net yards and converted 6 of 12 third downs. The Cowboys started the game with a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the first offensive possession.
4. Hargrave continued to dominate inside, registering two quarterback sacks, one tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, and six total tackles. He's so quick and powerful off the snap and he's been a monster inside. Very impressive. His sack of Prescott in the end zone was a potential momentum builder for the Eagles and it was an example of just how good Hargrave is: He busted through double-team blocking and collapsed the pocket and reached out with his left hand and knocked the ball loose as Prescott wound up to throw. Cox was there to catch the ball in the air for the touchdown and the first takeaway of the season for the defense.
5. The penalties are a problem. Philadelphia had 14 penalties for 89 yards in the Week 1 win in Atlanta, 8 for 57 yards against San Francisco, and another 13 for 86 yards on Monday night. The Eagles need to tighten up in that area right away.
"We've got to get that fixed. The ones that you don't like and the ones that are the most troublesome are the pre-snap penalties and we've got to take care of that. That's just us being disciplined," Sirianni said. "We've got to go to work and get better at that because that's obviously unacceptable. We're all in this together and that starts with me and it's unacceptable on my part."
6. Already down two starters to begin the game, the offensive line also lost left guard Isaac Seumalo with a foot injury in the fourth quarter. He went down as he backpedaled in pass protection and was carted off the field. Landon Dickerson made his NFL debut starting at right guard with Brandon Brooks hurt and Andre Dillard started at left tackle in place of Jordan Mailata. The Cowboys' speed pass rushers Micah Parsons and Randy Gregory were trouble all night, and playing catch-up football isn't the ideal recipe to run the offense, but the Eagles generated just three first downs and 121 total net yards in a first half in which they didn't score an offensive point.
7. In Week 1, the Eagles gave up just four receptions for 31 yards to Kyle Pitts. In Week 2, the defense did a good job against San Francisco's George Kittle, who had four receptions for 17 yards. On Monday night, Dallas had great success throwing to its tight ends as Dalton Shultz and Blake Jarwin combined for eight catches for 94 yards and a pair of scores, both by Schultz.
8. Along with that, the Eagles' run defense didn't handle Ezekiel Elliott (17 carries, 95 yards, two touchdowns) or Tony Pollard (11 carries, 60 yards). Dallas gained 162 yards on 39 carries.
9. Prescott averaged 9.2 yards per passing attempt, a big-play number. He completed 21 of 26 passes and tossed three touchdowns.
10. Philadelphia's running game was not productive, outside of Hurts and his 35 yards. Miles Sanders had two carries for 27 yards and Kenny Gainwell carried once for 2 yards.