When Nick Foles knelt the ball for the final time, it was a scene that we all knew too well. The Dallas Cowboys would once again be home for the playoffs, falling one game short, but this time losing at AT&T Stadium.
You have heard me say this a bunch this week: I wasn't worried about quarterback Kyle Orton and the way he was going to play. I was confident that you'd get the very best from him, and talking to his teammates, it was clear that they felt the same way.
As the backup quarterback, Orton gets no work with the first team during practice. As a matter of fact, he takes a grand total of zero reps with the first offense during game week when he is the backup quarterback. Despite that lack of work with the first offense, Orton was ready. I thought he gave his team a chance to win, but he was going to need plenty of help. Fortunately, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, the offensive line and even Gavin Escobar came to play.
What you have to know about Orton is that he wasn't going to take a sack, and if the ball needed to go underneath, he was going to make that happen. In my view, the problem for Orton in this game was that they were never able to get DeMarco Murray going, and I believe if they had, it would have helped him even more. I understand how much the Eagles struggle when it comes to defending the pass, but I am almost positive that Orton dropping back 46 times was not going to be in the best interest of this offense. We hear about balance daily from head coach Jason Garrett and this coaching staff, but it is rare when we actually see it.
As the game unfolded, I was surprised at how well the Cowboys defense was able to hold them in the game. I had a strong feeling that Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was going to get his yards, but when you hold him to a long carry of only 20 yards and one catch for just three yards, there are 11 guys doing their jobs. The same could be said for the job that the defensive backs were able to do on receivers DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper. When you are able to hold that pair to six catches for 67 yards and no touchdowns, you are giving your team a chance to win.
The pressure from the Cowboys defensive line was outstanding all night. They finished the game with five sacks, which was their highest total since totaling six against the Rams earlier in the year. There were some rushes in the first half that could have resulted in some more, but they were unable to get quarterback Nick Foles on the ground. Still, the pressure was there. [embedded_ad]
When the Cowboys beat Philadelphia earlier in the season, the defensive line was able to play on the Eagles' side of the ball, and Sunday night, they were able to accomplish that several times. It didn't matter who defensive line coach Rod Marinelli put on the field, those guys were in the mix to make a play. [embedded_ad]
Standing on the field after the game, I had that same feeling that I had after the Kansas City, Denver, Detroit and Green Bay games: Why is this team always in these situations? Why does it always come down to a play here or a play there or a coaching decision that affects the outcome of the game? It just seems that too many times, great efforts are wasted in these losses.
There is clearly something missing here, and it's not just about the injuries because all teams go through them. Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones need to sit down and not just evaluate what they have seen this year, but what has happened in the last three seasons. If they decide that Garrett deserves the opportunity to continue on for a fourth season at the helm, then that is their call and the organization moves forward. But something needs to change because coming up one game short every season has proven not to be the correct answer.