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Eagles' Stock Dips as they Bet on Rest Over Rust Against Cowboys

The Eagles didn't play to win Saturday night and it showed up in the final score

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles dressed only six starters and played only four of those with one of them, center Jason Kelce, taking just a ceremonial snap to extend his lengthy consecutive starting streak to 122 games and another, DeVonta Smith exiting in the first quarter.

In other words, Nick Sirianni wasn't necessarily playing to win while the Dallas Cowboys did show up to feel better about themselves after a disappointing loss to Arizona last week.

Early in the game, Philadelphia was surprisingly competitive and when Jake Elliott pushed through a 38-yard field goal with 12:24 left in the second quarter it was a 10-10 game.

RELATED: Backups No Match For Cowboys First String - Sports Illustrated

Then the dam broke and the Cowboys put up a 50 burger in what finished up as a 51-26 final with Dak Prescott throwing five touchdowns with a 151.8 passer rating.

"I called a lot of people I trust and a lot of people I trust were able to give me some insight on it," Nick Sirianni said of his strategy.

"I promise you, I didn't leave any stone unturned. I felt like in this scenario, we had some guys dinged up. Some of the decisions were made for me, but I really wanted to make sure we got some guys back to full speed, back to full health, to be able to do what we want to do in the playoffs.

"The goal is not to just make the playoffs. The goal is to win games in the playoffs and advance as far as you can advance."

THE BULLS

Rest: The real winner on Saturday was rest which outdistanced rust in the Eagles' mind.

Of the 12 players placed on the reserve-COVID 19 list on Monday, the only one activated in time for the game was Kelce, coincidently the player with the lengthy consecutive starting streak which reached 122 with a cameo appearance.

Unavailable to Nick Sirianni were starters Fletcher Cox, Dallas Goedert, Rodney McLeod, Nate Herbig, Avonte Maddox, and Alex Singleton as well as key reserves Jordan Howard, Boston Scott, Marcus Epps, Genard Avery, and Jack Stoll.

Jeff Stoutland: It's hard to imagine Stoutland's reputation staying on the incline simply because it's already so high but with the Eagles' sitting their entire starting OL with the exception of Kelce taking a snap Stoutland was still able to put together a more than solid unit with the left side of Andre Dillard and Sua Opeta looking especially good.

Brett Toth, who was inserted at center when Kelce left, was forced to leave with an injury and Jack Anderson moved from right guard to center with rookie practice squad elevation Kayode Awosika being inserted at RG.

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Dillars also got banged up late and Casey Tucker was inserted at LT but through it all the Eagles still ran for 149 yards just 11 less than their league-leading average.

Kenny Gainwell - With no Miles Sanders, Howard, or Scott, Gainwell got an opportunity to strut his stuff and the rookie showed impressive juice on the ground with 78 yards on 12 carries with TD.

“It felt great to me," Gainwell said. "This is what I’ve been waiting on – to get the chance to show a lot of things and just be myself and go out there and attack everything I’ve learned during the week and just go out there and attack.”

THE BEARS

The Secondary: Without their top six defensive backs, the starters plus Marcus Epps, the defensive backfield was up against it against perhaps the most talented receiving corps in the NFL.

With Zech McPhearson, Kary Vincent Jr., and Josiah Scott at CB and K'Von Wallace and Andre Chachere as safety, the Dallas trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Cedric Wilson combined for 12 receptions for 243 yards and two TDs.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: With DeVonta Smith exiting early after securing the franchise rookie record for receiving yards the other WRs, all who have struggled, had opportunities. JJAW had a chance to catch a nice back-shoulder attempt for a TD but dropped it. The officials also threw a flag on the play and considered calling Arcega-Whiteside for an OPI before huddling and picking it up likely at the best of New York.

No matter, JJAW was then called for an OPI on another less-than-subtle rub route, something that has been a season-long issue for the Eagles.

He also dropped a high Gardner Minshew pass that turned into an INT.

Arryn Siposs - Call it the 29-year-old, first-year player wall because Siposs is not technically a rookie, but the Aussie punter is struggling down the stretch after a strong start to the season. Maybe his worst punt of the season, a 21-yard shank with the Eagles at their own 22 with just 24 seconds left until halftime gave the explosive Dallas offense one more opportunity before intermission and Dak Prescott took advantage finding Dalton Schultz for a nine-yard TD.

Siposs later had a 24-yard punt.

MORE: Records Fall, Jason Kelce's Streak Grows - Sports Illustrated

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.