Matthews steps up when Eagles need him vs. Cowboys

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jordan Matthews played Dez Bryant's role in practice last week, then outplayed the All-Pro receiver in an important game for the Philadelphia Eagles.

After leading the NFL in dropped passes over the first seven games, Matthews had his best performance when the Eagles needed him most. He caught nine passes for 133 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown in overtime that gave Philadelphia a 33-27 win at Dallas on Sunday night.

''If you're in a slump, it takes someone with a great work ethic to get out of a slump,'' coach Chip Kelly said Monday. ''That's what Jordan has. He worked extremely hard. The kid is tireless, and it showed. You sink to your level of training and he trained at a really high level last week and played at a really high level last night.''

Matthews is often the last player to leave the field during the week. He arrives early to catch balls off a machine and stays late to catch some more. He even mimicked Bryant for the scout team last week to help the defense.

''Our defense was able to hold them to a field goal on that late drive to give us a chance in overtime. It was a complete team effort,'' Matthews said.

The Eagles (4-4) are a half-game behind the New York Giants (5-4) in the NFC East. They play their next two games at home against Miami (3-5) and Tampa Bay (3-5).

Matthews had an excellent rookie season as Philadelphia's slot receiver. He became the No. 1 guy after Kelly allowed Pro Bowl wideout Jeremy Maclin to leave in free agency. Matthews averaged 5.6 catches and 56.9 yards over the first seven games with only one TD. He also had nine drops, which isn't an official stat, so that number varies. One pass bounced off his hands and was intercepted to seal a loss at Atlanta in Week 1 when the Eagles were driving for the winning score.

''When games like this happen, it's not like it's the greatest thing in the world,'' Matthews said. ''I did my job. I did what I was supposed to do.''

Sam Bradford never stopped throwing to Matthews no matter how many times he couldn't hang onto the ball.

''Drops are part of the game,'' Bradford said. ''I don't lose any confidence in my guys.''

INJURY UPDATE: The team placed rookie LB Jordan Hicks on season-ending injured reserve after he tore his left pectoral tendon late in the fourth quarter. Hicks, a third-round pick, was having an outstanding season. He intercepted Matt Cassel's pass and returned it 67 yards for a TD for his second pick this year. He also has three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one sack, which broke Tony Romo's collarbone in Week 2.

''I'm in the right spot at the right time,'' Hicks said.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.