Until the Eagles' final, pointless drive, Riley Cooper had one catch.

For zero yards.

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You read that right.

The Eagles receiver was hardly the lone culprit in the Eagles' deflating, 38-27 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

But he's as good a target as anyone, especially when you consider his disappointing season.

When the locker room opened for media access after the game, Cooper was not available. Last week after the Seahawks loss, he feigned a leg cramp when a few reporters tried to ask questions.

Chip Kelly and the Eagles have insisted all season long that they have been happy with Cooper, that his blocking abilities justified his place as a starter, and that the way defenses have been playing more zone against their offense has limited his deep chances.

But on a night when the defensive secondary couldn't cover, well, even a receiver like Cooper, the Eagles needed the passing offense to run on all cylinders. It did not. Jeremy Maclin provided a spark in the third quarter with a 72-yard catch.

But he has never been the problem. The problem has been the lack of a complement on the outside. Jordan Matthews has helped as the slot receiver, but he came up with no catches against the Cowboys.

In all fairness, Mark Sanchez didn't help his receivers. The Eagles quarterback wasn't by any means a disaster on Sunday night. He made a number of strong throws over the middle to his tight ends, but aside from a few passes, he hardly threw successfully outside the numbers.

Sanchez is limited as a thrower, particularly from the pocket. This is a problem and will continue to be if the exam Nick Foles has on Monday shows that his broken collarbone hasn't healed enough for him to return for Saturday's game at the Washington Redskins.

Foles has a better arm and therefore can reach his receivers. After seven games with Sanchez at quarterback, it's a fairly obvious statement to make.

But, aside from Maclin and Josh Huff, he got no help from the receivers, and for the second straight game the unit came up short. It would be remiss to not make the obligatory mention of DeSean Jackson. He has been missed, maybe not in the locker room, but certainly on the field.

It should be noted that Jackson, playing with a leg injury, had only three catches for 15 yards in the Redskins' 24-13 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.

"Too many missed opportunities," said Maclin, who fielded every question asked after the game. "There's plays to be made. I think everybody across the board has to go look back and reevaluate and correct it and get things right.""

On the Eagles' first play from scrimmage, Cooper was set up with a screen pass. He ran one way, and then another, and then into a Cowboys defender and flopped to the grass for no gain. It was his lone receiving contribution until a 17-yard reception with two minutes left in the game.

In the first quarter, he bobbled a pass on the sideline and dropped it as he went out of bounds.

Maclin had been quiet in the first half as the Eagles took advantage of space in the middle of the field with throws to tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz. He had only one catch for 11 yards. But he came up huge to open the third quarter.

After their defense held to open the second half, the Eagles faced an early third down on the ensuing possession. Sanchez went to Maclin short, and the throw was a touch off - as many of the quarterback's passes had been. But the receiver plucked the ball out of the air with his fingertips to convert.

A play later, Sanchez went back to Maclin on the sideline. He was wide open, and when Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr went for the ball, Maclin had nothing but green earth in front. Matthews blocked all the way downfield, and Maclin nearly crossed the goal line.

But Maclin didn't get much help. Matthews also had a drop when he couldn't pull in a shoestring grab.

After the Cowboys expanded their second lead to 35-24, Kelly called for a pass on first down that had Cooper running a deep post. He didn't get separation, however - neither did the other receivers, for that matter - and Sanchez was sacked.

But Huff, of all people, pulled the Eagles out of their second case of the doldrums. Sanchez hit the rookie over the middle, and not only did Huff catch it, he broke two tackles and raced a total of 44 yards into Cowboys territory. A field goal trimmed the lead to 35-27.

Kelly has said many times that Huff is explosive with the ball in his hands. And while he displayed that on a 107-yard kick return touchdown against the Titans last month, he hadn't done so as a receiver.

If Huff had played anywhere near that level during his previous offensive snaps, he might have given the Eagles an immediate alternative to Cooper. Matthews has shown enough this season to declare him the real deal, but the rookie was trained to play the slot, is probably best served playing inside, and that was another reason Cooper's role remained the same.

Cooper is a good blocker. He has done, for the most part, what Kelly has asked of him. But he should only be a role player. But has a starting outside receiver ever been valued more by a team for his blocking over his receiving?

Let that one marinate for a while as the Eagles head into the final two games of the season with the playoffs now slipping away.

@Jeff_McLane