On a night when the Eagles' offense started slowly but managed to fight back from multiple deficits, the Eagles' defense couldn't come up with the answer to slow down the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, as the Cowboys left Philadelphia with a 27-20 win.
"At the end of the day it's about winning and losing, and I don't think we made enough plays on defense," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said afterward.
"I haven't watched the tape, but they did convert a lot of third downs on us and we've just got to be better. We're a really good third-down team when it's crunch time, but obviously today we weren't. They made plays and we didn't."
The Eagles entered the game already shorthanded in the secondary with Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones inactive. To make matters worse, Ronald Darby went down in the third quarter with a knee injury, leaving the Eagles with Rasul Douglas and Chandon Sullivan (recently promoted from the practice squad) as the two outside corners. The Cowboys attacked the inexperienced corners with a quick passing game, setting up holes in the running game.
The next man up mentality that the Eagles have preached for the better part of two seasons was not enough to get the job done on Sunday night.
"That's no excuse. We're all pros," Cox said. "At the end of the day, the next guy has to step up. We're all in the same meetings, we're all at the same practices, and we all participate in everything together. The 'next man up' should be no excuse.
"It's not like we have time to sit there and cry about it," added Malcolm Jenkins. "At the end of the day, you put the next guy in and play. I thought (Chandon) Sullivan came in and played well. We weren't out there wide-eyed. We knew what we were doing. ... We don't have time to make excuses."
With time winding down in the first half, the Cowboys possessed the ball holding a slim 6-3 lead. The Cowboys were out of timeouts, but Doug Pederson elected to use his, putting faith in his defense to make a stop and get the Eagles' offense back on the field with a chance to score. But on third-and-15, Dak Prescott found Cole Beasley for a gain of 21 yards. Prescott reached the ball across the goal line on a QB sneak just a few plays later.
The drive swung momentum back in Dallas' favor just before the half.
In the third quarter, the Eagles' offense started to find its groove, as Carson Wentz found Zach Ertz for a game-tying touchdown. The Cowboys then methodically drove down the field, capitalizing on chunk plays from Beasley and Ezekiel Elliott, to get back on top 20-13.
Again, the Eagles answered with an Ertz touchdown, but again, the defense faltered. Dallas marched down the field, as another drive culminated in an Elliott touchdown.
Dallas took the lead for good this time.
"One of the things I think we knew coming into this game was that we were going to get a steady diet of the run game," head coach Doug Pederson said. "Zeke is a big back. He's a powerful back.
"I thought overall we didn't tackle great. That's one of the areas that we've got to get better at is tackling. Tackling in space, tackling in the box, and making sure we get the guys on the ground. There were too many yards after contact and things like that, and those are areas that we have to concentrate on."
The Eagles will need to adjust quickly on defense, as the next game on the schedule is a trip to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints offense.
"We've just got to get ready for next week," Cox said. "Obviously, this loss sucked and we've sucked at home. Normally we're really good at home, but lately, we've sucked. We've got to do something about that and put this game behind us and get ready to go to New Orleans next week. It's a real test for us."
Check out the best photos from the Eagles' Sunday-night clash against the Cowboys.