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October 17, 2022

First half observations: Eagles 20, Cowboys 3

As "Dallas Sucks!" chants ring through South Philly, the Eagles have taken a commanding 20-3 first half lead over the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. If a Phillies NLDS win this weekend got things going for Philadelphia, a potential beatdown of Dallas is going to smash the city's cockiness meter. 

Here are my takes from the first half that was...

The Good

• Meek Mill rapped "Dreams and Nightmare" on the sideline before the game started. It was big "anyone could get it tonight" energy that felt pretty apt throughout the rest of this first half performance. 

• I know I'm the "vibes" guy and I don't want to just keep beating the "this crowd is insane" horse in the Philadelphia sports scene this week, but, for real, the fans at Lincoln Financial Field right now are incredible. If the Eagles can continue this level of play and pull off this Sunday night win, plus the Phillies partaking in the NLCS for the first time in a dozen years, things are just going to hit the ceiling in this city. Those fans deserve it. 

All hell broke loose after this Chauncey Gardner-Johnson interception:

All the defensive players ran down to the south end zone and partied like it was 2017. These celebrations and these moments harken back to that season, and I'll have more on that below, but this team is special right now. Yes, there is the obvious caveat that this is only the first half and there is 30 minutes of football still to be played, but if that goes anything like the first 30 minutes, people are going to be crowd surfing while leading "DALLAS SUCKS" chants. 

• Fletcher Cox looks reborn in his age-32 season. He's getting after the passer the way he hasn't since his All-Pro peak and is still a force in the run game. He clogged the running lanes on a third and two on the game's opening drive, allowing Josh Sweat to make a great play and stuff Ezekiel Elliott. It fed into this raucous crowd.

• The second quarter Birds rear their heads again: On literally the first play of the second quarter, Miles Sanders bullied his way into the end zone for the game's first score. Things were scoreless in the first quarter and it's as if the Eagles were toying with the media members and fans worried about the lack of first quarter production. 20 first half points are 20 first half points no matter what quarter they came in. 

• Marcus Epps: the dude plays all out. His diving deflection on the Cowboys' second offensive drive was massive, not allowing Dallas to steal any semblance of momentum after the Birds' offense sputtered early. 

• A Jalen Hurts quarterback sneak: the most unstoppable play in the history of football. 

• Is there a world where the Eagles have two All-Pro corners this season? Darius Slay and James Bradberry balled out in the first half. 

• The Eagles' aggressiveness during the franchise's Super Bowl season changed how offenses around the league handled fourth down attempts. If Doug Pederson was fine with playing the numbers and going for it on fourth, Nick Sirianni and the Birds' current staff take that to another entire plane. The Birds were 1-1 on fourth down attempts (not including an encroachment penalty against Dallas on a fourth down that gave the Birds a new set of downs), but the sheer drive that Sirianni and play-caller and offense coordinator Shane Steichen have right now is just crushing any defense that dares step in their way. 

The Bad

• I am no NFL coach, but, I don't know, I probably wouldn't run a naked bootleg on fourth and one with Cooper freaking Rush. 

• The Birds were cruising up 20-0 before a 62-yard kick return from KaVontae Turpin damped what appears to be a complete throttling. Special teams: important even if your offense and defense are operating like the most elite units in the NFL! The Eagles will certainty take that 20-3 lead though.

The Ugly

• There's a guy sitting in the section in front of the press box wearing the fakest, most poorly constructed Roger Staubach Cowboys jersey of all time. 

• During the preseason, I ranked every NFL backup quarterback. Perhaps it was a bit troll-y, but I had Cooper Rush dead last. Of course, he's played much better than that leading Dallas to a four-game winning streak, but, this is the type of performance that makes my ranking feel justified. 

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