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Broaddus: With Vick Out, Ryan Turned Up Defensive Pressure
Heading into this game, I knew the records meant nothing because both teams know the other so well. It was going to come down to who could limit their opponent from making big plays.
I really believed that Eagles head coach Andy Reid would make this battle about running back LeSean McCoy and the Cowboys were going to have to focus on him. When Michael Vick then went to the sidelines with an eye injury and concussion, it became Nick Foles game. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had to be careful in how he played Vick because of the way the veteran quarterback likes to use his legs to make plays. Once that was no longer a threat, Ryan was able to focus his pressure on Philadelphia’s patchwork offensive line and the rookie under center.
After the half, though, Foles settled down, and with no pass rush and a blown coverage, found Jeremy Maclin for a touchdown that allowed him to get a little more comfortable and put the Eagles ahead. But Ryan and his defense were able to settle down themselves and get some timely stops in the second half, a pick-six from Brandon Carr and a huge sack from DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer to seal the victory.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Cowboys, head coach Jason Garrett and his staff went away from a lot of the “11” and “12” personnel groups they had been working with the last couple of weeks, replacing them with a more traditional offensive set with two backs and two tight ends. Garrett did a nice job with his mix, getting Felix Jones and Lance Dunbar going early.
With the way the Eagles play their defensive ends wide, there were going to be some shots to run the ball inside, but also on the edge with a toss. You have to give Jones a lot of credit in this game. When he did get the opportunity to run the ball, he did a solid job and played with a physical style.
In the first half, the Cowboys receivers did a poor job of getting open against these Eagles corners, who have also had their share of problems, but in the second half, the Dallas wideouts did a much better job, highlighted by the 30-yard pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant that put the Cowboys ahead for good.
From my press box seat, it looked like right tackle Doug Free did an outstanding job against Eagles defensive end Jason Babin, who I thought could have been a real factor in this game. He wasn’t. Give Free a tip of the cap for what he was able to do this afternoon. It was a big-time performance on his part.