Monday, November 9, 2015

Eagles - Cowboys Diary

Green Screen
> With NBC telling us why Dallas LB Gregg Hardy is a bad dude, we see his face with as many eye black streaks as possible. Yay! Feel good, America! A domestic abuser is going to make millions and you get to just live with that. Fun!

> Usual touchback with Dallas winning the toss. What genius play does Nero Kelly have for us after a bye? Why, it's the World's Worst Screen to RB DeMarco Murray, QB Sam Bradford all but yelling out the play before it happens. Next is a Go Nowhere run left, leading to third and nine. Bradford from the gun on long count avoids the blitzer and connects with WR Josh Huff, but for a whopping five yards and punt. Near block of P Donnie Jones on contact, and that's a gift ST first down from Dallas. Wee! Time of possession of more than three plays!

> After the gift, Murray for four on a play that looked like something an NFL offense might run. Not real fast tempo, then DPI not called on a throw to WR Miles Austin. Third and six is Bradford to Huff for five yards, and hey, that worked so well the last third down. Fourth and one leads to Jones getting off a better kick, and Dallas PR Lucky Whitehead catches it at his one, brings it back to the seven. Dallas STs not exactly setting the world on fire with intellect, but the de facto turnover only costs them field position, not points. So glad that Kelly's got that slow starts problem fixed during the bye.

> RB Darren McFadden for five, ordinary hole and burst. From the gun, QB Matt Cassel stares down WR Dez Bryant, then connects on the slant against CB Nolan Carroll for the first. McFadden for 13, running past the run blitz, both MLBs getting sucked up in the wash. Cassell to Bryant, beats Carroll badly, 51 yards and Silver is in the red zone. Another great start for the defense, too. Cassell tries TE James Hanna on a rollout screen, but it's dropped in traffic. McFadden stopped by DT Bennie Logan, nice play to penetrate. Third and nine and stop the opening drive touchdown is Cassell from the gun, hits WR Terence Williams on the screen, but it's a yard from the sticks. HC Jason Garrett goes for it on fourth and one, long clock, timeout. That Cassell, he's a field general. Jumbo package, McFadden gets it on pure line surge for two. Cassell incomplete in the corner, probable pick play not executed. McFadden for two yards to the right. Third and goal and please God, let this still be a game for a while, Cassell from the gun, no pressure, finds WR Cole Beasley on the curl, and that's about as easy as it could be. S Malcolm Jenkins overran the pattern, and that's disappointing, in that he's been better than that for most of the year. Silver 7, Green 0.

> Touchback, false start on RT Lane Johnson, because why not. Terrible snap and give to RB Ryan Mathews, loss of four. Why not just punt already? Bradford to TE Zach Ertz for a whopping yard. Still time to punt. Third and 18 from the 12 is a shock, with Bradford to a wide-open Austin for 27. Useful that Bradford had time and a pocket, and wow on that gift coverage, as Silver is also Not Good. Mathews for a pair in muckery, then five to the right on a hair of daylight. Third and four is a crossing route to WR Jordan Matthews, and he doesn't drop it, but does get absolutely destroyed by CB Brandon Carr. Jones punts to Beasley, fair catch at the 17. There's a reason why Bradford's WRs don't catch everything, folks; the QB throws the first target way too often, without regard to whether they are open or not, and leaves them exposed. But some times, he does that with accuracy!

> From its own 17, and I think I can speak for all Eagle Fans when I say that so far, we'd like to go back to Bye Week. NBC shows us gross bone diagrams of Bryant's feet. McFadden for four, all line, then again for two, Carroll and Hicks doing good work. Third and stop the bleeding is Cassel from the gun, plenty of time, but missed Bryant on a poor throw. OPI on Beasley is declined, and Silver is three and out. P Chris Jones to PR Darren Sproles, fair catch at the 31. Jones got banged by his own man, which Cowboy Fan thinks is a flag; thankfully, the refs do not agree.

> Bradford from the gun, all the time in the world, misses Ertz, but there is DPI for a short gain. Murray on an odd sweep for three, with ram-head butting action. Bradford keeps, but Matthews isn't open and that's a big load of nothing. Third and 7 from the gun is a screen against a blitz, but Bradford can't throw over hands or disguise the play worth a damn, and that's that. Jones to Beasley, fair catch. Not real pretty so far.

> NBC fluffs Dallas and Romo as the refs say something we're not allowed to hear; nice job, NBC! Oh, wait, penalty for 12 men, but it's a committee meting and Nero actually has to jog. Good jog, Nero! Several minutes of dead time as WR Riley Cooper limps off, then no call. Um, WTF? McFadden for a yard, really predictable. From the gun and alone, Cassel to Beasley, eight yards on an easy curl despite only a 3-man rush. Third and short is power to McFadden for an easy eight, and the run blitz got destroyed. End of the first quarter, and the fact that it's just 7-0 makes this (a) one of Green's better first quarters in 2015, and (b) the usual freaking train wreck.

> Cassel rolls, benefits from a hold on a blitz of OLB Mychal Kendricks, and is incomplete. It's somehow hands to the face for a gift first down. Yeah, that's footbally. McFadden for 4, then 1, Silver just trying to wear out the defense. Third and five from the Silver 39 is Cassel to Williams, drops a ball that's 40 yards downfield in decent coverage by Carroll. Phew. Jones puts to Sproles, fair catch at the Green 20. Still a game. A boring, pointless, soul-killing game for a division that won't win a playoff game, but a game nonetheless.

> Six carries for 10 yards so far for the Green rushing attack, which I suppose is better than the last time they played Silver. Oh, and 8 of 9 passes from Bradford, if you toss out the Austin play, for 11 yards. Yay! Murray gets 9 off a shotgun counter, T Allen Barbre getting away with a hold. Murray again for three on a cutback and a first. Tempo isn't tempo any more for Green, then Bradford takes Murray on a check down for 8. A hair faster now, and Murray gets a hole and bursts for 6 more and another first. Murray as the line is working better now, 3. Mathews cuts left for 21, just so much faster. He gets it again and slogs it up for 3. Play action and Bradford to Matthews for a first. Tempo, and Mathews all the way to the six, great blocking on the sweep. First and goal from the six is a Silver timeout, as tempo dictates the break. Not sure where this line play came from, but it's welcome; seven carries for 57 on this drive so far. Bradford from empty backfield, tries Huff, who volleyballs with the drop for the near pick, because Huff is always a disaster. Sproles nearly gets in, then tempo on third and goal isn't great, Bradford from the gun tries Matthews, stopped at the goal line. GAHHH, you've been killing them on the ground, you have to throw it twice from the six? Fourth and goal is Nero going for it, a give to Murray, and he just barely gets in for the tying score. Phew. C Jason Kelce with the assist. K Caleb Sturgis hits the PAT, but a flag and long meeting, with 15 yards on Silver post make, with old friend Hardy drawing notice. Heh. Tie game, Kelly kicks away rather than take good field position for the onside, and Hardy's foul is seen on the replay, finally, for fun. He's a nice man!

> From their 20, Cassel rolls and connects with Whitehead for 8, Maxwell on the stop. Short second down, long clock, McFadden stumbles for 2 and the first. From the gun, Cassel to TE Jason Witten in traffic for 7, no pressure on these throws. McFadden met in the backfield, but avoids for a yard gain. McFadden for 17 on a pitch left, then 16 up the middle as the line gets compromised. Missed sack, Cassel spun out, then gets the touchdown, but it's OPI on Williams. First and 20 is a flag on a screen to Beasley, and another Silver flag. First and 25, Cassel scrambles and gets 11 ungainly yards. Incomplete on second and 14 from mild pressure. Third and 14 and long figgie or worse is Cassel from the gun, with LB Brandon Graham getting the strip sack and wow, big play, saves a figgie chance. Jones punts on 4th and 21, Sproles with the fair catch at the 6. 2:15 left in the first half.

> Two minute drill, points necessary before the half. Long run by Murray for a loss of a yard, two minute warning. Murray for eight to the left, out of bounds, good manuever, but worrisome third down. Bradford to Ertz on the cross for 15 and the first, big play. Bradford misses Sproles on a comeback, odd looking play. Second and 1 from the gun is Sproles up the gut, gets 8 like quicksilver. Third and 2 is Sproles again, moves the sticks, Eagles call timeout and the line is doing some good things here. Bradford to Matthews for 9-ish, but it comes back on a hold by T Dennis Kelly. First and 16 give to Sproles, nothing, clock running long. Give to Sproles, and then an incomplete; half. Oddly not aggressive by Nero there.

> Touchback to start. Cassel rolls for six, then McFadden mucks for three. Third and short is power to McFadden, but the line does the job; unsportsmanlike on Graham afterward for the first, because football is not meant for emotion. Witten for five on a checkdown. McFadden swallowed on a toss to set up third and eight; Graham doing work. Cassel from the gun is a Kendricks sack. Jones punts, good one, Green will start at their own 5.

> Bradford from the gun, checkdown to Murray for three, injury for MLB Sean Lee, who is kind of Silver's everything. Murray through a big hole with Lee out for 11, moves the sticks. Bradford to Murray on the wheel route, perfect placement from a clean pocket, 44 yards with nice hand-fighting down the line. Bradford with the checkdown to Ertz, gets three, Hardy with contact afterward. Checkdown to Sproles, loss of four. Third and 11 from the gun, Bradford to Austin for the drop, flag on the play, defensive holding on CB Maurice Claiborne for the first. Bradford from the gun to Matthews on the cross, big 28 yard gain, offense starting to look like an offense. Mathews around end, clean work from the line, touchdown. Hmm. Sturgis hits the PAT, and it's Green 14, Silver 7.

> Cassel strip sack again by Graham, but Silver falls on the ball, and the LB is having his best game of the year. 2nd and 18 is a check down to Beasley, who eludes Kendricks to get 12. Third and six and continue the avalanche is Beasley again, this time for 22, and the blitz never got there, and Jenkins blew the coverage. McFadden for seven, line again doing work. Cassel from an empty set through Witten's hands, and a homer charity call makes for a first; not Kendricks' best game, but that's just not football. McFadden ended by Kendricks on a perfect fill, loss of 3. Late change, then long count from Cassel gun, finds Witten for 9. Third and four at the edge of figgie range is a big damned deal, and it's empty backfield gun, easy slant to Beasley for the first. Cassel is not exactly setting the world on fire with complexity here; just Beasley winning at the line. McFadden for nine, the Silver line just making him look better than he is, Maxwell trying to strip more than stop. In the red zone, McFadden gets a yard and a first. Cassel to Beasley, embarrassingly open, 17 yards on the slant for the score. I have no idea why the hell the DBs are even trying to do with him on that coverage. PAT made, tie game again with 17 minutes left.

> Looking at the stats of this game at this time, they are dead even. Same number of first downs, all of seven yards of difference in offense, penalties and turnovers are the same. The only difference is time of possession, because Green doesn't huddle. Hmm.

> Touchback, then Bradford missing Ertz high and way, the TE barely getting a hand on it to prevent a loose ball. Murray powers for 2, NBC tells us Lee is off for concussion. Open roof and rain, because why not. Hardy jumps for a free five. Third and 2 is a big deal in a tie game, and it's the sack that's been coming for a while now, because watching Hardy celebrate is just good times. Jones punts to the 30, and Whitehead can't stay up after contact.

> From the Silver 29, McFadden dances for three and that's the end of the third. After commerce, Cassel takes the small sack from LB Connor Barwin, and that empty backfield seems like a mistake for Silver. Third and 8 on Green's fourth sack of the night is a  low snap, then freaking Beasley again for 29 back-breaking yards. Honestly, DC Bill Davis can't adjust to a goddamned slot WR. Inexcusable.

> Beasley for 3 on the bubble, then gun work with Cassel forcing the out, and Hicks makes the pick six for the play of the night. The LB just read the throw to McFadden perfectly, and the quicks shown to take it to the house was downright beautiful. Sturgis connecs, and it's 21-14 Green with 12:47 left. Wow, that was beautiful.

> And then, because we can't have nice things... 80-yard kickoff return by Whitehead, because Sturgis can't get touchbacks, and the STs are so much worse than last year.

> McFadden for 3, then 3 more, able to avoid a loss in the backfield on contact from Logan. Third and four and keep the damage to a figgie is Cassel from an empty set, long scramble, jump ball in the end zone and Bryant catches it for a score. GAHHH. Oh, and Bryant got away with a push off. That was absurd, and we're tied with less than 11 minutes left.

> Touchback. Mathews for five on long action, then fights off Claiborne to the left for the first. Drop by Mathwes on an open cross, and ye gads, please be better than that. He is on second down, wiggling through for first down yards up the middle. Play action throw to Ertz down the line, great play by the TE, who was in no way open. Ball shouldn't have gone there, but it goes for 27. Bradford keeps and hits Mathews for 14, then has just enough time to get to Sproles for 7, nearly went for more. Silver gassed and hurt, funny how often that happens. Murray long and slow left, hung out to dry for a loss, more Silver injuries, with the guy who was hurt a play ago is miraculously all better! More commerce. Third and 5 from the Silver 13 is a big damned deal, and it's Bradford from the gun, misses Matthews in the end zone as Silver gets pressure. Funny, how the defense got better after all those injuries, and Murray whiffed entirely on the block. Sturgis makes from 31, and it's Green 24, Silver 21, halfway through the fourth.

> Sturgis with the touchback, phew. Can the defense get off the field and stop the fearsome Beasley? Cassel to Williams for 8 on first, no pressure. McFadden for 12, easy bounce to the left off a lack of containment by Graham. Slant to Bryant for 16, no pressure, no pressure, no pressure. McFadden for 2, closing in on 30 carries for the lone survivor of the Cowboy 3-headed RB committee. Cassel from empty, long clock, quasi-intentional grounding on Barwin's pressure, but Beasley was close enough. Third and 8 and please God please is Cassel to Witten, fights off Hicks for the first. Dammit. Silver in field goal range.

> I hate SNF games. Casel tries Witten, misses high, Kendricks with coverage. Nearly 300 yards for a trash heap QB, BTW. From the gun, Witten stopped by S Walter Thurmond for only a 4-yard gain. Third and six and make this something the offense can win is Cassel empty, slant to Beasley blocked by CB EJ Biggers, and there's mercifully no flag. K Dan Bailey from 41 to tie it again is, of course, good, and we've got 3 minutes left with both teams having all of their timeouts.

> Touchback. World's Worst Screen actually works for 9, with Murray waiving the ball around. Poor throw to Matthews, who makes the good catch and goes for 34 through contact; big play. Detention Mode from the Silver 37, then Murray for six tortoisey cutback yards; Matthews would have had a lot more out of it. Two minute warning, with Green taking the clock down. I hate SNF games.

>  From the Silver 32, Murray loses on really bad internal blocking; Silver calls timeout. Third and 8 from the 35 is too long for Sturgis, and merely the entire game, really. Bradford from the gun tries Austin, ridiculously contact, not called. Kelly tries Sturgis from 53, which can't possibly work, and it does, somehow. Green 27, Silver 24, 1:46 left. All kinds of time left.

> Really need a touchback or better here, and Sturgis delivers; useful. Can the defense make the stand and get out of town? Cassel deflected on first, DT Fletcher Cox doing the honors. Second down is nearly complete to Witten on a deep cross, with Thurmond getting a hand in. Third and oh please oh please oh please is Cassel to McFadden, bell rung hard by Hicks after a five yard gain. Silver timeout. Fourth and the game with a minute and a half left is Cassel to Williams, easy cross and conversion, and so much for that chance of a kill shot. Silver running a lot of clock, takes Beasley for six yards, and Hicks is down, which stops the clock and helps Silver. Home team is 20 away from feasible tying figgie range. Green timeout on the injury doesn't help. Cassel tries Bryant, gets DPI on Maxwell, because he's Dez Bryant. Silver ball at midfield. Cassel tries Bryant, can't hang on to a deep cross, good throw from the QB. 42 seconds left, clock doesn't really matter right now. Cassel to Witten, short gain, clock now does matter. From the 46, another freaking throw to Bryant, should be OPI... but he's Dez Bryant, so why the hell not. Silver in figgie range on charity. I love the NFL, and SNF.

> From the Green 33, flag, and Silver had motion. No clock run off; grr. Silver needs yards again at least. 19 seconds left. Cassel to Bryant, slant and timeout, back in figgie range with 12 seconds left. NBC shows the last play was an illegal formation; uncalled, of course. Cassel throws wide and outside, flags everywhere, defensive hold on Jenkins for 5 more of ease. Green just went into prevent anything but an easier figgie there. Bailey from 44 makes it with a carom off the upright, and we've got overtime, because staying up even later to watch this infuriating team is just so much fun. Jenkins nearly had the game-saving block. GAHHHH.

> Not for nothing, but the defense has now given up late leads to Freaking Kirk Cousins and Freaking Matt Cassel. There's really no reason to think very well of any unit on this team. Touchback, then a kneeldown with two seconds on the clock, and overtime.

> Coin toss is won by Green; useful, I guess, since the defense just gave up the freaking lead.

> Touchback; not sure Green has had a kickoff return tonight. False start by Johnson, because the start of the fifth quarter is just like the start of the first, right? Bradford to Murray, slowly fights his way to 14 yards with hand action. Second and one is a middle give for three and the first. Move the sticks. Bradford to Matthews for a yard on long rollout, not an easy play, as NBC just begs for a Silver turnover. Another procedure flag, this one on Matthews. Such a well-coached team, this. Second and 14 from the gun sees Murray get 20, line doing work, hurdling a man at the end. Play action to Ertz loses two, and why stay with the run with Silver gassed and hurt? Second and 12 is Murray sweeping for nine. Third and three from the Silver 45 is everything, and Murray takes Matthews for two yards on a cross. Fourth and one and the game on the line is Mathews through the middle for the first, loose ball aferwards, and it's in the hands of the refs. Silver ball, and we're going to the booth for no good reason, because the replay shows it should have never been ruled that way, but dammit, Ryan Mathews, hold on to the goddamned ball.

> First down with Eagle Fans yelling in the stadium first, in operation at the Silver 41. Tempo defeated at the least for Silver. Bradford on the cross to Matthews, gets loose, and that's the 41 yard strike to end the goddamned game. Best moment of the year, and nothing else is even close. Hardy didn't get to the QB and haz a sad; couldn't happen to a nicer criminal.

> Green 33, Silver 27. Eagles go to 4-4, Dallas to 2-6, and the dream of losing a home playoff game is alive.

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