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Eatman: When a "Game of inches" felt like a mile 


PHILADELPHIA – For 59 minutes and 33 seconds, never did I seriously think the Cowboys were going to win that football game on Sunday in Philadelphia.

For one reason or another, it just didn't seem as if they were going to make enough plays, or get enough of the calls and breaks that it takes to win games like that.

But all of a sudden, there they were, sitting at the Eagles' 6-yard line with 27 seconds to play. Just like that, momentum had turned so dramatically that there was a part of me wondering if the Cowboys actually needed to run some of the clock off before they scored the go-ahead touchdown.

I should've known better. The previous plays in that same fourth quarter should've taught me a lesson that I thought I already knew – close to the end zone definitely isn't a score.

And that seemed to be the theme that ultimately doomed the Cowboys in this dramatic 28-23 outcome.

It's easy to look back now and second-guess knowing what we know now – that the Cowboys would make four trips inside the Eagles' 30-yard line in the fourth quarter, including three separate times inside the 10.

But those four trips led to six points. And that my friends, was the ball game in a nutshell. The Cowboys got close, very close at times, like an inch-away-from-goal-line close and it still was not good enough.

That seems to be the overriding theme for the Cowboys right now when it comes to the Eagles. Yeah, they were close. Close to scoring a touchdown like twice in the fourth quarter. Close to getting the biggest 2-point conversion we've seen this year.

And overall, close to beating the best team in the NFL right now.

But close doesn't get the job done. And let's be honest, this fan base is tired of being close.

But that's where the Cowboys are right now here in the first week of November with eight games down and nine to play.

This game was an example of what they've been for the last few years. They moved the ball on offense for the most part. They played fairly well on defense, considering the offense they were facing. But when it came time to really make the plays, they didn't get the job done on either side of the ball.

Sure, you can argue the defense got some necessary stops at the end, but we all know Philly wasn't running the same offense. It felt to me that whenever the Eagles really wanted to get yards, they could. And when they were down to start the third quarter, the Eagles came out with two big scores to take command of the game. That proved to be the difference.

But it probably shouldn't have been. The Cowboys – time and time again – moved the ball into scoring position, but it proved to be one thing or another.

In the first half, it was a key dropped pass by Michael Gallup that prevented a touchdown drive and turned into a field goal. In the fourth quarter, the offensive line allowed too many sacks and/or pressure in crucial moments to give Dak Prescott enough to make some of those plays.

You can argue that Luke Schoonmaker didn't run a deep enough route at the goal line, but the pressure was right there on Dak, who had to get rid of the ball. The Cowboys were able to get the ball back and score, but that 2-point conversion was the difference in the game. Again, it was pressure on Dak, who thought he had enough room to get to the pylon, only to step out inside the 1-yard line. Yet again, a game of inches.

The next drive was another one in which the offensive line couldn't hold up enough to move the ball for a touchdown. Again, had Dak made the 2-point conversion on the previous series they likely kick a field goal to tie the game.

But through all the issues with the offense and defense, the Cowboys still stood on the 6-yard line with 27 seconds to play – needing a half-dozen yards to win this game.

So close. But too far away in the end.

And that begs the question from an overall standpoint. Sure, the Cowboys seem to be rather close to the best team in football. But will they be far away in the end?

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