The Cowboys and Eagles faced off on Sunday Night Football this week, and it was the rare midseason occasion where it felt like there was something bigger on the line. Every year for the first few weeks of the season each game feels like it could make-or-break the season.
The first few weeks are where teams set the tone for how their year's going to go. By Halloween, though? The tone's pretty much been set for all but a few teams. The Cowboys and Eagles are two of the exceptions.
Philly and Dallas came into Sunday at 2-4 and 3-3, respectively, only the Eagles could have been at least 4-2 if not for idiotic mistakes, and the Cowboys might be 6-0 if Jason Garrett and Tony Romo weren't evil spirits sent to Dallas as karmic torture for all the sins of the '90s.
Anyway, Sunday figured to be a showdown between two teams that were better than their records suggest, who (because of their records) both needed this game more than anyone expected. All of which is a long way of saying I committed to keeping some notes as the game unfolded Sunday night, and the results are below.
By the way—I'm a Cowboys fan, and this was all a horrible idea.
All times eastern and approximate
8:17 — Maybe I'm missing something, but for some reason Brian Williams and Bob Costas are talking about Jon Stewart at the end of the pregame show. And then this from Costas: "Obviously there's an entertainment element, but this news magazine is in a sense more like an old style news magazine. It's different from what we've come to think of news magazines over the last decade."
The best part is that the news magazine he's talking about is a TV show.
Please note: Nothing's more pretentious than referring to your website, Tumblr, random newspaper, or iPad app as a "magazine." I didn't even realize people can cross that line with a TV show, but I think the element of surprise makes the analogy twice as pretentious. Like when Kanye West says, "It's not a music video, it's a work of art."
No no no, it's a music video.
8:19 — So yeah, you can catch 'Rock Center' with Brian Williams Monday night at 10. Now, who's ready for some football?!
8:31 — Okay, actual football! Eagles start with the ball, and Vick takes a sack on the first play. If anyone can exploit the Eagles' horrible gawdawful joke of an offensive line, it's Rob Ryan.
8:38 — Eagles TD on one of those annoying Andy Reid screens. After that first play, the Eagles walk down the field pretty much at will. What the f**k just happened? "And just like that, it's 7-0 Philadelphia."
8:40 — You know, America's had a pretty good laugh at the downfall of the Dream Team That Never Called Themselves The Dream Team, but on a week-to-week basis, the Eagles offense is still completely terrifying.
8:41 — Here's Nnamdi Asomugha dressed as Harry Potter visiting a Children's Hospital.
Expelliarmus, haters. Nnamdi out here gettin that J.K. Rowling cheese.
8:49 — Penalty and a re-kick and another penalty gives the Cowboys the ball at the Eagles 40. Time for Romo to go to work. ... After the drive goes to the Eagles' 40, a holding call and a sack puts them at 2nd and 27. Fantastic. Let's just punt it now.
8:55 — A broken-play on what looked like a halfback dive turns into a 10-yard run for Vick. Is it okay to be rooting for a high ankle sprain? I feel like there's a difference between rooting for an injury and rooting for a "tweak". Nobody should get injured, but if Cris Collinsworth ends up saying "looks like he tweaked an ankle" and he doesn't make it back till next week, then that's alright. Isn't it?
8:57 — Touchdown No. 2. The previous entry also applies to LeSean McCoy, who just had 40 yards in two plays and made a mockery of the Cowboys defense.
8:57 — [Camera pans to Rob Ryan, looking homeless and disgruntled.]
9:00 — Via ESPN Dallas' Tim McMahon:
Cowboys hadn't allowed more than 2 10-plus-yard runs in any game this season. Eagles have 3 already.
[few minutes later]
Cowboys had allowed 5 10-plus-yard runs all season. Eagles have 5 already ... including last 3 plays.
Patriots (101 yards on 25 carries) were only team to crack triple digits rushing vs. Cowboys. Eagles have 104 yards on nine carries.
9:05 — [Cue Cowboys interception, cue blowout]
9:06 — ERGJNUVFJLSIVERGHUVRIGJFDKGEKDLGLJSVKDNFLSKHGKHFFGDK. You know the Antonio Gates Revolution? Where big, fast tight ends that used to play basketball can just be plugged in anywhere on the field and somehow they dominate by default?
Well Martellus Bennet seems to be the antithesis there. Not only has he made a stupid mistake in just about every NFL game he's ever played, but I don't know if I can remember him ever actually doing anything well. I know he has, technically. But has he, really? Anyway, he just dropped a first down catch from Tony Romo, but just to add some mediocre flair to it, he bobbled it right into the hands of Asomugha for a pick. Beginning to think this isn't the Cowboys' night.
9:15 — Vick runs for a first down on third-and-six, gets called for an unsportsmanlike penalty after he angrily flips the ball downfield. Of course he also got slapped in the helmet on the way down, which might explain the outburst. But no, let's show the replay three times and not even mention that part. (We're just gonna be angry at everything right now if that's cool.)
9:18 — Turns out, Sean Lee—the second-year linebacker and budding star of the Cowboys defense—was the guy who smacked Vick on the way down. He hurt his hand and hasn't returned. Karma.
9:25 — Another Ealges touchdown. Or Eagles, even. This is getting out of hand, and I'm reading Big Ghost to cheer myself up. The best section from his new Wale review:
5. Lotus Flower Bomb (ft Miguel) - Aight first off yo. Fuck this song title b. This shit dropped a while back n I never even peeped the shit cos the song title sounded like a yoga pose nahmean. Its sounded like some shit the broad in Coldplay might bang vaginas wit Gwyneth Paltrow too yo. But after listenin to this shit I feel like I need to slap box witta minotaur jus to restore some manhood to my senses b. This shit is like havin a waterfall of ovaries comin thru all the windows n doors in ya crib when you listen to it son. Its like audio breast milk. Ayo I understand you gotta gear summa ya shit to the females bruh...but this shit is straight bitchmade son. A dude listens to this shit one too many time n he gon get a period if he aint careful g. I hope I dont hear this shit again for like the rest of my life yo.
Watching the Cowboys is like having a waterfall of ovaries come through your TV.
9:30 — Another Tower Heist promo. Brett Ratner is proof that there's no hope for anyone.
9:40 — So, here's your weekly reminder that NFL players are insanely talented.
It's cool though. It didn't count. Of course it didn't. Time for another punt!
9:50 — LeSean McCoy takes a two-yard loss and bounces it outside for a four-yard gain. And ... I'm not saying he's Barry Sanders or anything, but there's not a more entertaining runner in the NFL right now. Especially because he doesn't even look that fast. If we had to choose one word to describe him, I'd go with elastic. He doesn't break tackles so much as bounce in and out of them, he wraps around the far side of the defense almost every play, and makes defense look stupid on like every other run. Every time you see a flashy college player make a mockery of defenses with stutter-steps and spin moves and cutbacks, you think, "He won't get away with that stuff in the NFL." But LeSean McCoy totally does, every single week.
9:52 — FYI, it appears the news magazine happens in an elevator.
9:55 — After roughly 5,000 shots of Rob Ryan on the Dallas sideline, NBC pans to Philly's
defensive coordinator offensive line coach Howard Mudd. And my girlfriend asks, "Why do all assistant coaches look homeless?"
10:00 — Second and goal from the five, and Philly runs a screen-draw to LeSean McCoy that runs right into the Dallas D-line. Andy Reid's the best.
10:04 — Eagles settle for a field goal (WOOOOO!) and the Cowboys get the ball back with a minute left. Take a five-yard penalty on first down, then take a 10-yard sack on to make it 2nd-and-25. So the Cowboys dressed up as the Colts for Halloween. Got it.
10:06 -- Not sure how this came up, but here's Al Michaels: "I don't know how many of you have ever shaken hands with Adrian Peterson, but if so, be forewarned... You will go to your knees." First of all, pretty impressive #humblebrag right there. Second, is he implying that Adrian Peterson arm wrestles every reporter he shakes hands with? Because if so, all athletes should be more like Purple Jesus.
10:07 — 3rd and 17 and I say, "I don't care what the Cowboys do here, just as long as it's not a draw out of the shotgun." Cue DeMarco Murray for 16 yards on a draw out of the shotgun. Jason Garrett LOVES that play. God he loves it. Love love love love LOVES the shoutgun draw. When he dies, someone should inscribe the play art on his gravestone. That and the bubble screen. "When you needed eight, he'd find a clever way to get you six." GOD BLESS HIM.
10:15 — Halftime! Let's all take a second and listen to Bob Costas.
Ahhhh, yes. As much as I hate it, I'm really beginning to look forward to Deep Thoughts With Bob Costas every Sunday night. The operative phrase this week: "Does any of this make sense?"
Costas is from St. Louis, so it would've been cool if he just wanted to talk about the Cardinals in his weekly Sunday Night Sermon. That World Series was crazy enough that it deserves some love. But tying it to the Rams "miracle" win vs. the Saints? Come on. NA miracle is winning the lottery. The Rams win was like winning 20 bucks on a scratch ticket. Less "HOLY S**T!" and more of a "Huh. Kinda cool." moment.
Related: At some point Bob Costas, Rick Reilly, and Mike Lupica need to have a poetry slam-style throwdown to see who's really the king of pedantic video essays. We can even give them prompts.
"College sports corruption: GET BUSY REILLY."
"The NBA lockout: LOOPTY-LUPICA, MORALIZE THESE MOTHAF***S.
"The Tim Tebow phenomenon: GET FUNKY WIT IT COSTAS."
Kinda needs to happen, doesn't it?
10:30 — While I was typing the previous entry, the Cowboys crapped the bed on offense and settled for a punt from the 40. Now the Eagles are driving and LeSean McCoy just went over 100 yards with 11 minutes left in the third quarter. So yeah, it's not gonna happen for Dallas tonight.
10:35 — Philly in field goal range. If Cowboys don't force a turnover or score on the next possession, we're calling the mercy rule on this one.
10:39 — Whoa hey look a turnover! Vick throws an incomplete backward pass to DeSean Jackson and Dallas recovers. Only problem: It was obviously a forward pass and unless the NFL really is rigged to promote close games on National TV, it's getting overturned. Not much worse than knowing refs are about to overturn a big play for your favorite team and that's happened twice tonight.
Actually, one thing that's definitely worse: Watching your favorite team get absolutely humiliated against a division rival in a crucial game on national TV.
Although this is still better than that time they gave away an 80-point lead to the Lions.
HOW BOUT 'DEM 2011 COWBOYS.
10:49 — Time to pull the plug here and offer some final thoughts. NBC just ran Collinsworth and Michaels as Troy Polamalu, the Cowboys went three-and-out and this is turning into the worst acid trip ever.
In closing, this was a Cowboys loss as much as it was an Eagles win. Philly was phenomenal in the game they needed to win, yeah; but Dallas was a full-on disaster. With all the sacks and penalties they took on offense, they didn't even get far enough for Jason Garrett to completely butcher the red zone offense. On both sides of the ball, it was basically just surrender.
Yeah, maybe it'll motivate them and in 10 weeks we all look back and say, "That Eagles game is when the Cowboys season changed." They've got one of the easiest schedules in the league over the next 10 weeks, so there's always a chance. But I don't know. The team just doesn't seem all there, mentally, and Jason Garrett doesn't seem like the guy to fix it. Losing is one thing, but the Cowboys have a special knack for just shattering to pieces.
As for the Eagles? If this was a "statement game", then the NFL got the message.
This is why teams should be afraid of Philly every single week, regardless of the records. Maybe they haven't delivered so far this year, but they can. When LeSean McCoy gets going in the running game and Mike Vick sprinkles in those 20-yard quick hits to guys like Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin, it's like the field gets 50 yards shorter. Then the defense gets to play the pass instead of the run, shut people down, and the offense goes back to work. It's a vicious cycle of awesomeness.
So... Yeah. Upon review, A.) Choosing this game to live-blog was the worst idea ever and B.) Philly's an easy punchline until you have to play them and they punch you in the face over and over again for 60 minutes. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find some hemlock.