For most of us, the way the bad dream works is that we're standing in front of a whole bunch of people and we've forgotten to put our pants on.
Donnie Jones lived that one out in reverse Sunday. With 5 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the second quarter of the Eagles' meaningless 6-0 loss to Dallas, Jones went back to punt from the Dallas 43 — wearing his black sideline warm-up pants over his white uniform pants. Jones was ready to take the snap when long-snapper Rick Lovato alerted him that he might want to check for a wardrobe malfunction. Jones quickly slipped off the extra warmth, which ended up wadded at the feet of an official, while Jones pinned the Cowboys to their 4.
Then Jones retrieved his pants and carried them to the sideline.
"That was not intentional," said Jones, who is also the Eagles' holder. He explained he had been working on the sideline with kicker Jake Elliott, thinking a field goal might be coming, when he heard someone yell "punt!"
"I just jumped up right away, totally forgot that I had 'em on," Jones said. "Rick kind of looked at me. He was like, 'Dude, your pants.' I was like, 'Oh my gosh!' "
Had Jones not discarded the warm-up pants, he would have been subject to a fine from the league for violating uniform regulations, but there doesn't seem to be anything in the rule book that would have necessitated a penalty.
Jones noted "it was busy" for the punters, on a day with one scoring drive and 15 punts, all by a Jones — Dallas punter Chris Jones booted eight, with a 38.1-yard net, landing four inside the 20, and the Eagles' Jones hit seven, with a 41-yard net, three inside the 20.
"It's extremely cold and the wind's stiff; the wind didn't die down all day," Donnie Jones said, on a New Year's Eve afternoon when it was 19 degrees at kickoff with a 17 mph northwesterly breeze that made it feel like 3 degrees. Jones is in his 14th season, his fifth with the Eagles, but before coming here he either kicked for warmer-weather teams (Seattle, Miami) or dome teams (St. Louis, Houston). "It's a lot different playing up here in the northeast, I'll say that."
Rasul Douglas started at cornerback for the fifth time this season, the first time since October. He hasn't had extended defensive action since November, so Sunday was an important game for his development.
"You just have to get back in the rhythm," Douglas said. "You just have to get your feet and get your groove with how you do stuff."
Results were mixed for Douglas, who said he didn't feel rusty. He allowed the game's only touchdown, in the fourth quarter, when Brice Butler beat him on a 20-yard slant pattern. Douglas said the Cowboys had tried double moves on consecutive plays before getting him on the slant. His learning point was to try to force a fade instead of allowing the slant, when he didn't have help from the safety. Douglas said he refused to "get down" about the touchdown or another big play he allowed.
"If you watched the game, I played good the whole game," Douglas said. "It was just those two plays I gave up. People only see those two plays. … I try to be 100 percent on every play."
Isaac Seumalo played center throughout the second half of the Eagles' loss, marking the first time Seumalo has played in the middle for the Eagles. It's the position that the 2016 third-round pick might fit best at long-term, after working at guard and tackle during his Eagles career.
"It was fun," Seumalo said. "Different set of challenges and different positions, but it was fun."
Seumalo said the adjustments came with the pre-snap reads and the need to be vocal so his linemates could hear his calls. Seumalo opened the season as the starting left guard before losing his job after two poor games. Other than playing the second half against the Rams after Stefen Wisniewski's injury, Sunday offered Seumalo his most work since Week 2.
"Obviously, I wish we would have won, but this is great to be out there playing," Seumalo said. "Experience always helps."
Brent Celek entered Sunday with 4,985 regular season receiving yards in an Eagles career that began in 2007 and could be over after this season. Targeted four times against Dallas, he caught three passes, for 13 yards — 2 yards shy of 5,000. Would've been nice, in a meaningless game, if the Eagles could have gotten that 9-yard pass with 13 seconds remaining to Celek, instead of to fellow tight end Trey Burton.
Only seven players in franchise history have achieved 5,000 receiving yards: Harold Carmichael, Pete Retzlaff, Mike Quick, DeSean Jackson, Pete Pihos, Tommy McDonald and Bobby Walston.