January 09, 2022
The Philadelphia Eagles got smoked by the Dallas Cowboys in a (mostly) meaningless regular season finale, 51-26. As always, win, lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.
The Eagles treated their Week 18 game like a typical final preseason game, playing their second and third stringers. There were a few rare exceptions, like Jason Kelce and DeVonta Smith (we'll get to them momentarily), and some starters who haven't really played like starters, like Jalen Reagor, for example.
But if you're a fan who only casually follows the team, there's a good chance you had never heard of half the guys who played Saturday night. In the fourth quarter, I'm pretty sure they pulled a fan out of the stands, put a No. 50 jersey on him, and had him play left tackle.
It was 100 percent the right call by Nick Sirianni and the Eagles' brass, by the way, for all the reasons we laid out after the Eagles clinched a playoff berth last Sunday night.
The Eagles should be fresh for their wildcard round playoff matchup. Whoever they play will have likely played their starters.
The Eagles activated Kelce off of the COVID list on Friday, pretty much so that he could keep his streak of games started alive. Kelce has now started 122 straight games, which is second-best in the NFL among all active players.
|Player||Consecutive games started|
|OT Jake Matthews, Falcons||126|
|C Jason Kelce, Eagles||122|
|OT Charles Leno, WFT||109|
|OT Alejandro Villanueva, Ravens||106|
|QB Tom Brady, Buccaneers||92|
(The Bucs' Ndamukong Suh also appears to have 163 straight starts, but for some reason, the NFL doesn't list him among the league's leaders.)
In case you're wondering, the all-time record for consecutive starts is held by Brett Favre, who had 297. I'm envisioning asking Kelce during the 2032 offseason something like, "Hey Jason, I know that every year is a new decision on whether or not you'll continue to play, but how does the consecutive games streak factor in?"
On Monday, the Eagles placed a dozen players on their COVID list, all of whom are either starters or play a substantial number of snaps. Only Kelce was activated in time to play. The others were (in alphabetical order) LB Genard Avery, DT Fletcher Cox, S Marcus Epps, TE Dallas Goedert, OG Nate Herbig, RB Jordan Howard, CB Avonte Maddox, S Rodney McLeod, RB Boston Scott, LB Alex Singleton, and TE Jack Stoll.
Expect the vast majority of those guys — if not all of them — to come off that list in the next day or two.
Heading into their matchup with the Cowboys, the Eagles had rushed for 2,566 yards, the most in the NFL this season. It was also the second-most in team history, trailing the 1949 Eagles, who rushed for 2,607 yards.
The Eagles rushed for 149 yards against the Cowboys, breaking the team record for rushing yards in a season.
In the first quarter, DeVonta Smith had three catches for 41 yards, bringing his season receiving yard total to 916, breaking DeSean Jackson's rookie record of 912 yards in 2008. Of course, Smith did it in 16.25 games, while Jackson did it in 16, but whatever. We won't put an asterisk on that like Roger Maris.
Smith was promptly pulled from the game after breaking the record.
One of training camp and preseason standouts this summer was Jackson, who dazzled with his unmissable size and impressive athleticism. Unfortunately, he got hurt during joint practices against the Patriots, and he missed the first eight weeks of the regular season, becoming something of an afterthought during the regular season.
Heading into Week 18, Jackson had 0 catches on two targets. Against Dallas he got his first NFL catch, which also happened to be a touchdown.
Unfortunately, he appeared to seriously injure his knee, and was quickly ruled out for the night.
Huntley showed some juice both as a returner and as a runner against the Cowboys. I'm not sure who you sit to make room for a guy like him in the playoffs, but he's clearly the best kick returner on the team, right?
Just when you're starting to feel like J.J. was sort of an unsung, blue collar, lunch pail kind of guy who deserved some positive recognition for working hard despite not seeing targets, he reminded us all of why the ball doesn't come his way.
Come on, man.
After a decent enough season (I guess?), Siposs had two ugggggly, shanked punts against the Cowboys. He was fortunate that they happened in a completely meaningless game. Obviously, that cannot happen in the playoffs.
With a win over Dallas, the Eagles would have almost certainly played the Buccaneers in the wildcard round. With a loss, it'll still likely be Tampa, but the options are a little more open. In case you haven't seen this, here's your handy dandy visual of who the Eagles will face in the playoffs depending on the results of the NFL's Sunday slate of game:
There was no buildup whatsoever for a final regular season game between the Cowboys and Eagles, who are both playoff-bound, which feels like a rarity. Once the Eagles' opponent is known for sure, the fun will begin again.
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