For a quarter everything was coming up Philadelphia.
Earlier in the day, Baltimore easily dispatched the New York Giants and it was evident from jump street that Carolina was going to handle a Washington Football Team forced to play the embattled Dwayne Haskins at quarterback.
All the Eagles needed to do was to beat Dallas to set up a Week 17 winner-take-all matchup with the WFT at Lincoln Financial Field for the NFC East. More so, the Eagles jumped out to a 14-3 lead over the Cowboys.
Without Rodney McLeod, Avonte Maddox, and even a Cre'Von LeBlanc, however, the wheels came off.
Philadelphia (4-10-1) lost 37-17 and was the only team eliminated from the NFC East race heading into the final week of the regular season.
The demarcation line on Sunday seemed to be losing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox to a stinger injury, coupled with Andy Dalton's focus on undrafted rookie cornerback Mike Jacquet.
The Eagles' banged-up defense was simply engulfed by the Dallas passing game, particularly Dalton to Michael Gallup, who finished with six receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half as the Cowboys turned that early deficit to a 20-17 edge.
The carnage continued in the second half as Dalton finished with 377 passing yards and gash plays of 55, 52, and 69 yards.
Jacquet allowed seven receptions on nine targets for 182 yards before being benched in the third quarter.
There was some good offense, starting with 477 yards but it was lost in mistakes and penalties including three turnovers from Jalen Hurts and six false start penalties among the 12 flags Philadelphia accumulated.
Pass Defense - F: Dalton isn't Dak Prescott but he sure as heck isn't Ben DiNucci, either. The veteran backup can still sling it and he was smart enough to understand Jacquet was the attack point. The young Eagles young defensive backs were just overmatched by Dallas' talented receivers and Nickell Robey-Coleman joined them. In fact, the only Eagles defensive backs who looked they belonged on the field were Darius Slay, who had his first interception of the season, and Jalen Mills.
The Running Game - C: The ground game was on point early taking the first possession in for a TD with nine of the 11 plays running against the 32nd-ranked run defense with Hurts and Miles Sanders splitting eight of those. Hurts finished with 69 yards on nine carries while Sanders was at 15-57-1 but his long run was just seven yards. The Eagles needed an A here and were just mediocre.
Jim Schwartz - F: Schwartz had enough of zone coverage after doing it so much against New Orleans and Arizona with dual-threat QBs. Dalton can't hurt you with his feet so the Eagles' DC was back to single-high looks without the personnel to deal with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Gallup. All three had big plays in the game Schwartz should have rolled out heavy zone looks.
DeSean Jackson - B: The best home-run hitter in NFL history was back for a cameo and an 81-yard TD catch, his 32nd of over 50 yards, which puts him four away from tying Jerry Rice's NFL record. It was also the 25th over 60 yards, already an NFL record. At 34, Jackson won't be back in 2021 but remember what he gave you in two stints with the Eagles.
Alex Singleton's Speed - A: There weren't a lot of positives coming from an elimination game but Singleton chasing down Amari Cooper and keeping him out of the end zone was pretty darn impressive.
The Defensive Line - C: The line came in without Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat and then lost Fletcher Cox to a stinger when leading 14-3. The attrition was just too much from there.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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