Many were expecting an offensive shootout between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, but what we saw were two defenses that, despite all the offensive weapons on both sides of the ball, were able to hold their own series after series.
Neither offense was able to get much going in this game, although Tony Romo was able to overcome some negative plays and even draw up a few in the dirt to reward his defense with a victory.
Numbers don't always tell the story, but what does is when you see your team play with the effort and determination that this Cowboys squad played with today. In a divisional game, on the road, with backup players at many positions, this team found a way to get it done, whereas at different times in the first half of this season, they failed badly.
Offensively, the tape will probably show a few problems in some protections, but nothing that can't be corrected. What the offense appeared to have corrected from last season was penalties along the offensive line, but as well as Doug Free has played at right tackle this year, his day was marred with three false starts, which cannot happen. Ronald Leary had one as well, and if it wasn't for Dez Bryant drawing a pass interference, Leary's flag would have resulted in a field goal instead of a touchdown.
For Tony Romo, it was as quiet a 300-yard passing day as he's had in his career. Romo did manage to lead the team to victory, but he wasn't as sharp as we have seen him the last two weeks. There were some throws that were off, and he threw two interceptions. Still, when he needed to make a throw or two against a soft Eagles secondary, he found Bryant, Terrance Williams or Cole Beasley.
The coaches went with a rotational system at running back, and I feel like it paid off. It took a great deal of the pressure off Joseph Randle and played to the strength of Phillip Tanner. Randle only averaged 3.5 yards per carry, but there were some tough yards gained. Both Randle and Tanner did a nice job of protecting the ball and that was the key.
If you would have told me that Eagles running back LeSean McCoy would average three yards a carry and four yards a reception in this game, I would have called you nuts. Monte Kiffin's defense was outstanding. They pressured the quarterback and attacked the ball, but maybe the thing they did best was tackle. Philadelphia's offense is about the big play, and preventing those plays is your only chance to win. Today, the Cowboys prevented the big play. They never allowed McCoy, quarterback Nick Foles or wide receiver DeSean Jackson to get rolling.
While the Cowboys offense was scuffling around, their defense held them in the game. The band of backups along the defensive line, the linebackers led by Sean Lee and the secondary came to play. No matter the situation, they had an answer. The pace and the style of play was not dictated by the Eagles and their head coach Chip Kelly, but by Kiffin and his defense.
All summer long we heard how Kiffin would struggle against these read-option attacks, but what we have learned the last two weeks is that there is a big difference between the personnel of the Cowboys and what he had at USC. Two games and two divisional wins, I would say there is not much of a struggle there.