By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—The Eagles defense did something to the Dallas Cowboys offense that the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins couldn’t do in the last two weeks.
They held Tony Romo and the Cowboys high-powered offense to under 20 points. That was the good news for the Birds defense. Of course, the bad news was that the offense provided little to no help and could only come away with a field goal in the Eagles 17-3 loss to Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field.
“All we know was that we had a game plan and we were going to execute that plan to the best of our ability and we did,” said defensive tackle Vinny Curry, who sacked Romo in the second quarter.
The Birds put pressure on Romo, sacking him twice and intercepting him twice. They held him to 69.2-passer rating. He completed 28-of-47 passes for passes 317 yards with one touchdown pass.
The Eagles defense knew that players like wide receiver Dez Bryant, who had eight catches for 110 yards and no touchdowns, were going to put up numbers. They also figured that tight end Jason Witten was going to work the middle of the field. The Cowboys tight end caught four passes for 48 yards.
“I thought our guys did a nice job,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis. “(Dallas’) strength is their pass receivers and their quarterback. I thought our guys took a big step. They didn’t stop them, but it’s a very potent offense. They can put 45 on you real easy.
“I thought the pressure was better. I thought the coverage was tight. I thought I was going to give more doubles to Dez Bryant, but I didn’t have to. The corners did a nice job of handling them.”
The defense limited the Cowboy to a pair of touchdowns. That should have been enough for the Eagles to come out of the game with a win. But the offense didn’t do their part and it wasted what was probably the Eagles best defensive performance of the year.
“Anytime our defense plays that well we should win,” said Eagles center Jason Kelce.
“If you ask me before any game if our defense holds anybody to 17 points, we’re going to win or lose, I’ll tell you we’re going to win.”
In the fourth quarter, the Eagles defense put the offense in position to make the game close thanks to an interception by middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. With the Bird trailing 10-0 and the Cowboy looking to add more, the defense pressured Romo into throwing the pick.
“(The defense) was talking about getting some momentum and getting a turnover, and I was fortunate enough to come down with it,” said Ryans, who had one of the two sacks of Romo. “I was looking forward to it giving us some momentum and flipping it to our side.”
Unfortunately, the Eagles offense could only muster a field goal. On the Cowboys next possession, Romo led them on a 10-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard TD pass to Terrance Williams.
When your offense is not helping you even the best defense is going to give up a score late in the game. It is akin to a pitcher in baseball having a good outing without run support.
The only solace the Eagles defense can take from this game is that they are getting better as a unit. For three straight weeks they have not allowed a team to score more than 21 points in a game.
“Guys know what they can and can’t do and you see how good we’re getting,” Ryans said. “Even though this was a solid outing, we still have some things to work on.”