Was there anything good about this game? Sure. Uh, Jordan Hicks stepped in well off the bench, Cody Parkey made a 46-yard field goal and an extra point (though the FG didn’t have much distance to spare and his rare kickoffs were lucky to reach the end zone. Josh Huff caught a couple of passes, Jordan Matthews came on at the end, and Taylor Hart made a couple of plays off the bench. Malcolm Jenkins made plays and actually, the defense was reasonably stout until the very end of the game.
That’s pretty thin gruel, though. Overall the best thing you can say about this game is that it’s over. There’s not enough room in the Internet to list all of the bad things, so I’m going to focus on the five biggest disasters in this mountain of awful.
1. Kiko’s Alonso’s injury.
Kiko Alonso, who saved a touchdown against Atlanta, reinjured his left knee, the same one he tore his ACL on last year. The team immediately reported he was out for the game, which was the first bad sign. The second was a report that he had “no range of motion” at all. In other words, he couldn’t move it in any direction without excruciating pain. Very few minor injuries cause that.
Im told Kiko Alonso's season is done. #Eagles
— Darren DeGaetano (@DarrenDegaetano) September 20, 2015
There were plenty of disasters tonight but this is the one that will probably last the longest.
2. Mychal Kendricks’ injury.
A hamstring isn’t nearly as serious, but the team obviously needed him in Alonso’s absence, especially after Demeco Ryans had serious problems keeping up with both runs around the edge and short passes. Fortunately, Jordan Hicks looked decent coming off the bench. They’re going to need him. Jason Peters was also shaken up and left the game, but seemed to be fine.
3. The passing game.
For all the criticism of the offensive line, they did pretty well in pass protection in the first half. The Eagles still could barely complete a pass until the final touchdown drive in garbage time. In the first half, Agholor led the team with one reception for eight yards. Jordan Matthews had a terrible drop early that set the tone for a miserable night. Total pass yardage in the first half — 24 yards. Bradford’s passes were erratic in the first half and worse in the second, adding interceptions to the stew. He was clearly rattled.
4. The running game.
As weak as the passing game was, the run game was far worse, racking up a hefty minus-three yards in the first half on seven carries. Only some gains on the final drive got DeMarco Murray into possible territory — 13 carries for just two net yards. That’s 0.15 yards per carry, which is probably not going to be quite good enough to make the playoffs.
Though the final numbers changed, the futility of the run game was best captured by this third quarter tweet:
Sam Bradford has 25 more rushing yards than all the Eagles RBs combined. Funny thing is, he only has 9 yards.
— Matt Mullin (@matt_mullin) September 20, 2015
Since Dallas couldn’t really score either, Philadelphia was always vaguely within striking distance. The Eagles had to cement the crappiness of this loss with several key turnovers — a red zone interception (when Riley Cooper was wide open), a bad snap by Kelce when Bradford wasn’t ready (to negate the 34-yard fumble return by Malcolm Jenkins), and a second interception to snuff out another promising drive.
The clincher was the blocked punt that Dallas returned for a touchdown, converting another Eagles strength — special teams — into another source of failure.
6. The referees
The lead ref announced “This is the end of the first quarter” after three had ended. They also called six penalties on the Eagles and 18 on the Cowboys, determined to make this weird and bad game last as long as humanly possible. It was sadistic and cruel of them, though it’s scary to think how much worse the Eagles might have lost without an 10-penalty advantage.
Moving forward, there’s good news and bad news. Another game will arrive in a week to wash the taste of this one out of our mouths. The bad news is, it’s the Jets, and their gritty defense will have no trouble smothering the Eagles offense if things don’t change very dramatically by then.