ABOVE PHOTO: Fans express their frustration after the Eagles lose their fifth straight, something that’s never happened in Reid’s 14 years in Philadelphia.
(Photos by Webster Riddick)
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
When he came onto the field, Eagles backup quarterback rookie Nick Foles received a standing ovation from the fans. Later in the game, he received in an even bigger cheer when he hit a wide open Jeremy Maclin for a 44-yard touchdown pass that gave the Birds a 14-10 lead early in the third quarter.
With Michael Vick out for the game with a concussion midway through the second quarter, it was the dawning of a new era in Eagles football-at least among the pundits and beat writers that cover the team.
But the way this game turned out, you might be seeing more of the former Arizona star because the sun is slowly setting on the Birds 2012 season and possibly Andy Reid’s career as a head coach in Philadelphia.
A punt return and a pick six by Foles sank the Eagles battleship and possibly their season as the Cowboys came away with a 38-23 win in front of a sellout crowd at Lincoln Financial Field who saw their team lose their fifth straight game.
“It’s hard to lose a game like that, ” said running back LeSean McCoy, gained 82 yards on just 16 carries. “We were in it and real fast we were down a couple of scores. That was really frustrating.”
Of course, the big question after the game was whether Foles, who completed 22-of-32 passes for 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception, would be the Eagles permanent starting quarterback? Reid said it would be Vick depending on his health.
“He’s the quarterback, yeah. But he’s hurt right now, so I just have to just see how’s he doing,” said a visibly annoyed Reid. “Let’s take a little consideration for Michael here.”
PHOTO: Rookie Nick Foles completed 22-of-32 passes for one touchdown, an interception and a fumble in place of the injured Michael Vick. Will he be the starter for a floundering Eagles team going nowhere fast.
(Photos by Webster Riddick)
Vick left the game having completed six of his first nine passes for 70 yards with a touchdown pass to Riley Cooper on the Eagles first drive of the game. It was the first time all season the Eagles have scored on their initial series of the game.
Foles didn’t play badly and led the Eagles to a 17-10 lead midway through the third quarter. He threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin and led the Eagles to a 40-yard field goal by Alex Henery. But two of Foles turnovers resulted in Dallas scores.
“For having not practiced at all with the first group, I thought he came in and did some good things,” Reid said. “You saw he kept his eyes downfield and there were some positives there but again the turnovers.”
But late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter, the wheels came flying off the cart for the Eagles. First, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo hit wide receiver Dez Bryant for a 30-yard touchdown pass.
After the Eagles went three and out on their first possession of the four quarter, it took the Cowboys less than a minute to put the game out of reach. Cowboys punt returner Dwayne Harris took a Matt McBriar kick 78 yards for the touchdown that put Dallas up 24-17.
Two plays into the Eagles next possession, Foles threw ball slightly behind DeSean Jackson and it was tipped into the hands of Brandon Carr, who took it 47 yards for the touchdown to give Dallas a 31-17 lead. Game, set and match. Both teams scored touchdowns late in the waning seconds, but it was already done.
The Eagles defense didn’t play poorly as they had in the last two weeks. They allowed 294 yards of total offense. They sacked Romo three times, but they did not force any turnovers. On two Cowboys scoring drives, the Eagles did a poor job tackling.
On Dallas first touchdown of the game-an 11-yard touchdown pass from Romo to running back Felix Jones-four Eagles defenders just missed him and did not wrap him up. Late in the third quarter on a third and five from the Dallas 39, Romo escaped the grasp of Mike Patterson and Fletcher Cox and hit wide receiver Miles Austin for a 25-yard gain to prolong the drive.
Three plays later, Romo hits Bryant with a touchdown pass to give Dallas their first lead of the game.
With a 3-6 record, the stunned Eagles believe that they still have a chance to make a run for the postseason. Considering that the New York Giants (6-4) only have a one-game lead in the NFC over the Cowboys (4-5) in the loss column and a two and a half game over the Birds, it is within the realm of possibility.
But the way they’ve played on both sides of the football, it’s a faraway from being a sure thing.
“We’re a confident bunch. We just need to get that first win and we’ll be alright,” Maclin said. “We’re pressing right now and we really have to get it done and go out there and get a “W” next week.”