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October 30, 2016

Instant observations: Cowboys 29, Eagles 23

Eagles NFL

The Eagles shook off a shaky start and went into the locker room at Jerry World with a 13-10 lead. And after a roller-coaster second half, we were treated to some free football for the second straight year in this matchup.

The Eagles lost the coin toss in overtime, and they never got the ball as Dallas drove down the field for a touchdown. In what ended up being a pretty crushing loss, Jason Witten's five-yard touchdown catch gave the Dallas Cowboys a 29-23 victory. Here's what I saw:

The good

• Jordan Matthews has played well in Dallas during his young career, and for the third consecutive year, he found the end zone. Great use of the hurry-up offense from Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz:

• Most running backs don't age well, but don't tell that to 33-year-old Darren Sproles. He was by far the Eagles' best offensive weapon on the night, finishing with 86 yards on 15 carries.

The bad

• In general, I thought Pederson was way too conservative with Wentz. The Eagles threw far too often behind the line of scrimmage, and on the biggest third down of the game, the Eagles decided to go to Trey Burton. Against a defense that you can move the ball against, I thought he played it too tight to the vest.

Wentz finished 32-43 for 202 yards and a touchdown. Let the kid air it out once in a while, Doug.

• Part of the reason that Pederson is hesitant to go deep is that the Eagles receivers do not inspire much confidence at all. Again in this game, they dropped too many catchable passes from Wentz.

The ugly

• Pederson has gotten off to a great start as a rookie head coach, but he had a terrible sequence that forced the Eagles to squander a golden opportunity at three critical points. Safely in field goal range at the 30-yard line, he called a backwards swing pass to Sproles that lost six yards. And then he decided against giving Caleb Sturgis a 53-yard kick... after Sturgis made a 55-yarder in the first half.

The whole thing was puzzling. More than anyone, Pederson was responsible for this loss with bad play-calling and poor clock management. And oh yeah, you're going to hear Andy Reid's name brought up a few times this week.

• I'm not a special teams expert, but Jalen Mills didn't seem to be doing much productive on a nice fake punt by Dallas. If you're not going to rush the punter, don't you have to be prepared for a fake?

• Yikes:

• With the Eagles up 10 points and the defense just getting off the field, it wasn't exactly the best time for Wendell Smallwood to fumble. You just can't have this:


Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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