NFC East: 2013 Week 6 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Dallas Cowboys

October, 13, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 31-16 victory against the Washington Redskins.

What it means for the Cowboys: It might be too early in the season to say this was a must-win for the Cowboys, but coming off the disheartening 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos last week it really was.

Falling to 2-4 would have been devastating with back-to-back road games upcoming and the team in the midst of the first three-game losing streak of the Jason Garrett era.

This was by no means a masterpiece, but the Cowboys travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles with a 3-3 record and feeling a lot better about their team. The Cowboys are 2-0 in the division for the first time since 2007.


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The special teams kick-started the victory with Dwayne Harris' punt return for a touchdown and the offense was able to take advantage of two short fields (set up by a Harris kick return and a Kyle Wilber fumble recovery) for two touchdowns.

The first touchdown was a thing of beauty from Tony Romo, who sidestepped a blitzing Josh Wilson and fired a pass to the corner for Terrance Williams. The second score was Joseph Randle's from 2 yards with 9:36 to play, but center Travis Frederick should get an assist for helping push the rookie running back across the goal line.

Stock watch: Rising -- Jason Hatcher. He was without DeMarcus Ware for most of the game, but he was simply a terror on the interior, giving the Redskins fits throughout. He had two sacks of Robert Griffin III to give him five on the season, which is a career high.

A special returner: Harris was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his three-tackle effort versus the New York Giants in Week 1. He could win his second honor of the season for his returns against the Redskins.

Harris had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Cowboys a 14-3 lead. His 90-yard kickoff return in the third quarter set up Williams’ 15-yard touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 21-9 lead.

It was the third kickoff return of at least 90 yards in franchise history that did not go for a touchdown.

Defense makes a stand: The Cowboys' D wasn’t perfect, but after allowing 1,023 yard and 81 points in the previous two games, it didn’t need to be perfect, though Dallas still allowed 416 yards.

The Cowboys allowed a 45-yard touchdown to Alfred Morris, but made him work for his yards. After allowing back-to-back 400-yard passing games, they kept Robert Griffin III in check for most of the game as well, limiting him to 246 yards.

Wilber came up with a sack/fumble of Griffin to set up the clinching touchdown, and Orlando Scandrick had a pick of Griffin in the end zone to end a fourth-quarter threat.

The defense even had three sacks after putting up one in the previous two games combined.

What’s next: The Cowboys travel to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Eagles. For defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin it will be a chance to show he can slow down Chip Kelly’s offense at the NFL level. He didn’t do it at Southern California. In three games against Oregon, Kiffin’s defense allowed an average of 601 yards and 50 points in losing two games. Last November the Trojans gave up 730 yards in a 62-51 loss.

Rapid Reaction: Philadelphia Eagles

October, 13, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. -- Observations on the Philadelphia Eagles' 31-20 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

What it means: The Eagles are capable of winning ugly. Chip Kelly has his first two-game winning streak, both at the expense of winless opponents. The victory gives the Eagles a 3-3 record going into next week’s home game against the Dallas Cowboys. Quarterback Nick Foles started his first game of the season in place of the injured Michael Vick. Foles was good enough, completing 22 of 31 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns. Foles also ran for a touchdown. The theory that Foles’ presence would hamper LeSean McCoy proved false: McCoy rushed for 116 yards.

Off the hook: The Eagles' defense, facing rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, was looking to build some momentum, a week after intercepting three fourth-quarter passes by Eli Manning. It didn’t really turn out that way. Glennon had way too much time to operate and found Vincent Jackson for two touchdowns. The low point was a drive that started at the Tampa Bay 1-yard line and lasted nearly eight minutes. Glennon converted three third downs on the drive, which ended with a field goal. Eagles rookie safety Earl Wolff, Glennon’s teammate at NC State, broke up what would have been a go-ahead touchdown pass to tight end Tim Wright.

Stock Watch: Rising -- Riley Cooper. Kelly answers several questions a week about whether Cooper is an adequate No. 2 receiver. Last week, Jeff Maehl got a handful of Cooper's snaps, and it looked as if Cooper might be losing his job. Playing across the causeway from his hometown of Clearwater, Cooper caught a 47-yard touchdown pass and turned a quick out into a 44-yard gain to set up Foles’ 36-yard touchdown throw to DeSean Jackson. Cooper finished the game with four catches for a career-high 120 yards.

What’s next. The Eagles can take early control of an admittedly weak NFC East with back-to-back home games against the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. The Eagles are 2-0 within the division. Vick was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bucs. He said Thursday that if he couldn’t go this week, he felt sure he’d be ready for Dallas. That means another week of discussion of whether Kelly should stick with Foles or go back to the veteran Vick.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

October, 10, 2013

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 27-21 loss to the Chicago Bears:

What it means: The Giants are 0-6 for the first time since 1976, when they started 0-9. They did, however, do a bunch of things in this game they hadn't yet done in this lost season. They ran the ball well, racking up 123 yards on 26 carries. They converted 7 of 11 third downs, after converting only 16 of 61 in their first five games. They got defensive stops when they needed them. They kept penalties to a minimum. They avoided becoming the first team in league history to allow 30 or more points in their first six games. It was the best the Giants have looked this season by far, and they still couldn't come up with their first win.

Stock Watch: Brandon Jacobs and John Conner, UP. The Giants were averaging a league-worst 56.8 rushing yards per game through their first five games, but they rushed for 56 on Thursday night in the first quarter alone. With David Wilson out with a neck injury, Jacobs was named the starter and had a great deal of success all night running behind the blocking of fullback Conner, who saw his first significant action since signing with the team, and against the backups the Bears were using at defensive tackle.

Playing from behind: This was obviously far from the Giants' worst game of this miserable season, but turnovers did hurt them again as they have all year. Eli Manning threw interceptions on each of the Giants' first two possessions. The first didn't end up costing them, since the Bears inexplicably went for it on fourth-and-2 instead of kicking a short field goal, but the second was returned for a touchdown that put the Giants in a 7-0 hole. And the third, which came with two minutes left in the game and the Giants driving in Chicago territory down just six points, iced it for the Bears. The interceptions raised Manning's league-leading total to 15 and the Giants' league-leading turnover total to 23. No other team in the league has more than 12.

What's next: The Giants get 10 days off before their next game, which is Oct. 21 on "Monday Night Football" against the Minnesota Vikings at MetLife Stadium. Because they played the early game in Week 6 and their bye is in Week 9, the Giants will play only two games in the next 30 days.