Kendricks steps up for Eagles D
Mychal Kendricks continued his strong sophomore campaign by forcing two first-half interceptions. On the opening drive, Kendricks knocked the ball out of the grip of Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, and Bradley Fletcher recovered the fumble. In the second quarter, Kendricks reeled in a bobbled pass to Jason Witten for his third interception of the season. The Eagles scored points off both turnovers, which proved to be the difference in the first half.
Mychal Kendricks continued his strong sophomore campaign by forcing two first-half interceptions.
On the opening drive, Kendricks knocked the ball out of the grip of Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, and Bradley Fletcher recovered the fumble. In the second quarter, Kendricks reeled in a bobbled pass to Jason Witten for his third interception of the season. The Eagles scored points off both turnovers, which proved to be the difference in the first half.
Kendricks is one of four players in the NFL with four sacks and three interceptions this season. Tampa Bay's Lavonte David, Arizona's Karlos Dansby, and Baltimore's Daryl Smith are the others. Kendricks became the third player in Eagles history to achieve that feat.
Alex Henery continued his hot streak with a 47-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Henery was inconsistent earlier this season, but he entered the game perfect since Nov 10. Three of Henery's four longest field goals of the season have now come in the last three weeks - a 51-yarder at Minnesota, a 49-yarder vs. Chicago, and the 47-yarder against the Cowboys.
The Eagles continue to struggle in third-and-long situations. One of the costliest plays of the game for the Eagles defense came when Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton connected with Terrance Williams on a 39-yard pass over the top of Brandon Boykin on third and 12. That play led to a Dallas touchdown.
On the Cowboys' next drive, they gained 12 yards on third and 9. The longer field has not always been an advantage for the Eagles this season, who have allowed conversions on 58 percent of third downs from 7 and 8 yards to go but keep opponents to 44 percent on third downs of 2 and 3 yards to go.
Nick Foles' third-quarter fumble was a rarity for him this year. In 2012, Foles fumbled eight times and lost three of them. He's started four more games in 2013 than last year, but has been more careful with the ball.
Sunday's fumble was only his fourth this season and the second that he lost. For a player who had more turnovers than touchdowns last season, Foles' ball security is a major reason he's now the team's starter.
Foles up and down
After an impressive first half, Foles got off to a rough start in the second. He failed to pick up a pass rusher on first down and was sacked for the third time. The Eagles lost 9 yards, and even though LeSean McCoy picked up 16 yards on a second-down rush, Foles had to burn another pass into the ground on third down.
Who had the tight end? After Orton hit Williams for a big 39-yard completion, the Cowboys went back to the air two plays later. Rookie tight end Gavin Escobar was wide open underneath and there wasn't an Eagles defender within 10 yards. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans was the closest, but he hardly blows coverages.
Escobar ran untouched until Nate Allen dove at his legs at the goal line, but the tight end flipped over into the end zone for the score as Dallas trimmed the Eagles lead to 10-7.
It was the third touchdown by a tight end the Eagles allowed this season.
Up for grabs
On the first play of the second quarter, all of Foles' receivers were covered when he dropped back on first down at the Cowboys' 25. But the Eagles quarterback did something he had been reluctant to do in the first Dallas game. He tossed the ball up for grabs to a covered Jason Avant.
But Foles took a little air out of the ball, and the receiver came back to make a leaping 22-yard grab. Avant's role has decreased this season, but he still has some of the best hands in the game. The Eagles scored a play later when Foles hit McCoy for a 3-yard touchdown.
The Eagles defense did plenty of bending in the first half, but Kendricks' two turnovers saved it from breaking. Orton, after throwing short passes early, went deep on the Birds in the second quarter and took advantage of a secondary that has been susceptible to long balls. He completed 15 of 23 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown but did toss the one interception to Kendricks.
The Cowboys also got decent push up front, but DeMarco Murray managed just 43 yards on 11 tries (3.9 average) before the break.