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Sunday, October 20, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Philadelphia Eagles

By Phil Sheridan

PHILADELPHIA -- Quick thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles' 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:

What it means: The NFC East is every bit as bad as advertised, and Michael Vick is going to get his starting quarterback job back -- either because of injury to Nick Foles or based on performance. Two of the NFL’s most prolific offenses produced 13 punts and only three points in a ragged, penalty-filled first half. It was the first time since his first season as head coach at Oregon that a Chip Kelly-coached team was shut out in the first half, and it was on merit. The Eagles could get nothing going in either the run game -- LeSean McCoy, the NFL’s leading rusher, had 12 yards on eight carries -- or the pass game. By handing the Eagles their franchise-record ninth consecutive home loss, the Cowboys assumed first place in the NFC East, a dubious distinction that still gets a team into the postseason.

Stock Watch: Falling -- Foles. It sure looked like the starting quarterback job was Foles’ to lose, and sure enough, that’s just what he did. Before leaving at the end of the third quarter with a head injury, Foles looked nothing like the poised, precise passer who won NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors last Sunday against Tampa Bay. He was erratic and inaccurate, hesitant and unsure. Foles completed just 11 of 29 passes for 80 yards. He took three sacks, including the play on which he was injured. Foles rolled to his right and had time to throw the ball away, but he held on until George Selvie and Jarius Wynn were able to catch him and knock him out of the game.

The kid gets his shot: Rookie Matt Barkley played the fourth quarter in place of Foles. He completed his first pass, drawing sarcastic cheers from a crowd that had witnessed precious little offensive prowess from either team. Barkley, a fourth-round pick from USC, was facing a defense coached by Monte Kiffin, who was coordinator at USC. All three of his drives ended with interceptions: by Sean Lee, Barry Church and, in the end zone, Brandon Carr.

Defensible: With two of the most productive offenses -- and least resistant defenses -- the expectation was for a shootout. It was more of a shoot-yourself-in-the-foot-out, with both teams committing enough penalties and unforced errors to make for some brutally ugly football. But the defenses deserve some credit, and the Eagles' squad definitely showed signs of life. There was pressure on Tony Romo all game. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans made an interception that gave the Eagles’ offense a legitimate chance to score a touchdown and turn the game around. It didn’t happen, but the defense couldn’t be blamed.

What's next: Kelly let his quarterback situation play out without saying anything that could be held against him later. He seemed to leave the door open for Foles to earn the job with his performance but can now say that Vick was the No. 1 guy all along. The question is whether Vick’s hamstring -- which he described as a “bad pull” last week -- is ready in time for next Sunday’s home game against the New York Giants. That is an opportunity for the Eagles to snap their home losing streak and remain relevant in the NFC East race.