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Spadaro: 10 takeaways from Sunday night's tough loss in Dallas

Jalen Carter
Jalen Carter

It was a rough Sunday night for the Eagles at AT&T Stadium, where they lost to Dallas 33-13, the first time since October of the 2021 season that Philadelphia suffered back-to-back defeats with Jalen Hurts at quarterback. The loss dropped the Eagles to 10-3, tied with San Francisco and Dallas for the best record in the NFC.

Here are some takeaways from the game ...

1. Turnovers were drive-killers

The three best offensive players on the team – Hurts and wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith – lost fumbles in the open field and in Dallas territory. Those three giveaways ended promising offensive drives and turned momentum in the Cowboys' favor (although Dallas had momentum from the jump, scoring on its opening four offensive drives (24 points)). Hurts lost the ball at the Dallas 20-yard line, Brown fumbled in the third quarter at the Dallas 37-yard line, and Smith had the ball punched out at the Cowboys' 13-yard line in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia now has 19 giveaways, matching last season's 17-game total. The Eagles lost the turnover battle, 3-1.

2. The defense got off to a slow start

Dallas converted 5 of its first 6 third downs (the Cowboys converted on fourth down following the lone missed third down) and put up 24 points on its opening four drives. The Eagles were hurt in the middle of the field in both the run and the pass and Dallas had some positive plays on the edges as well. The Cowboys kept the Eagles' defense off balance with misdirection, a quick-passing game from quarterback Dak Prescott, and conversions on third downs. The Cowboys were methodical, patient, and won the line of scrimmage. The Eagles made some nice adjustments at halftime and limited Dallas to three field goals in the second half, but by then, the Eagles were unable to catch up offensively.

3. Middle pressure really disrupted the offense

Dallas had some success coming after Hurts with more blitzers than the Eagles had blockers. Pressure up the middle knocked the offense off kilter. The Cowboys were aggressive in coverage against Brown and Smith, and, while they gave up some plays, they didn't allow the "chunk" plays and kept the Eagles in front of them. Smith had a long gain of 30 yards. Brown had a long gain of 24 yards. Tight end Dallas Goedert was back on the field and that was great to see, but his impact was limited to 4 receptions for 30 yards. The Eagles' offense failed to put the ball in the end zone for the first time this season. The Eagles had two offensive touchdowns in the loss to the 49ers and zero on Sunday night. Hurts completed 18 of 27 passes for 197 yards and 5 carries for 30 yards.

4. The Eagles trailed at halftime for the sixth straight game

The catch-up story was nice while it lasted, but the Eagles knew they had the challenge of playing a full 60 minutes against the very best teams in the league, and Dallas is one of those best teams. But the Eagles couldn't take control of the game from the very start – Dallas had those first four scoring drives – and for the sixth straight game, Philadelphia trailed at the half. Playing catch-up football is not the formula to win in the NFL.

5. The defense couldn't get Dak Prescott off his spot

The Eagles tried some pressure, but it wasn't enough against Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott. He completed 24 of 39 passes for 271 yards and a pair of scores. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb was held to 6 receptions and 71 yards, but Prescott was able to spread the ball around – tight end Jake Ferguson had gains of 32 yards, 27 yards, 8 yards, and 7 yards. He was a weapon. Michael Gallup had 3 catches for 48 yards and a score. Brandin Cooks had a 30-yard gain. Tony Pollard had 7 catches as a safety valve. The Eagles were whistled for 3 pass-interference penalties.

Dallas opened the game by running the football and establishing the line of scrimmage and that loosened things up and Prescott picked his poison. The Cowboys ran 74 offensive plays and controlled the football for 36 minutes, 36 seconds.

6. Penalties were a problem

The defense hurt itself with so many mistakes. The Eagles were whistled for 10 penalties for 95 lost yards (Dallas had 7 penalties for 65 lost yards). Yeah, flags were picked up and it was infuriating, but mistakes are mistakes. Too many penalties. Too many missed opportunities. You can't do that against a team like Dallas.

7. Special teams came up big with a trick play

It led to a field goal and it was overshadowed by the loss, but calling a fake punt – punter Braden Mann completed a pass to wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus for 28 yards to convert the fourth down was a thing of beauty. Great play, even though it didn't change the outcome of the game.

8. Fletcher Cox still has it

The veteran defensive tackle had 3 tackles and a quarterback sack that forced a fumble recovered and returned by rookie Jalen Carter for a touchdown that gave the Eagles some life at 24-13 in the third quarter. Cox has had a fine season in Year No. 12. Other than Cox, Haason Reddick had a pair of quarterback sacks and played hard, physical football.

9. The postgame demeanor was as it should be: Leadership is strong

As Cox said: "We're going to keep this locker room tight. We're going to keep this team tight. We've won 10 games and you have to be excited about having another chance to another game next week." Which leads to ...

10. Despite the two losses, the Eagles are still in a strong position

It won't be easy returning home at 6 AM on Monday and then turning around and traveling to Seattle, but that's the schedule and the Eagles are going to have to meet the challenge. Philadelphia is 10-3 and the Eagles control their destiny in the NFC East. Winning in Seattle would be huge with games against the Giants, Arizona, and at the Giants to finish out the season.

The Eagles are 10-2 and have the best record in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys enter just one game behind with a 9-3 record. The Week 9 showdown between these two teams went down to the final play. What will happen this time around? The Eagles are in Dallas to take on the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football!

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