ARLINGTON, Texas — If the Dallas Cowboys are not able to turn their season around when Tony Romo returns from a broken collarbone, they will look at Sunday’s 33-27 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Eagles as a killer.
As has been the case in other games in Romo’s absence, the Cowboys were right there once again to pull out a win. And once again they were not able to get it done.
It was the Cowboys’ second overtime loss of the season. At least this one didn’t end on the second play of the extra session like the 26-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 4.
This one ended after nine plays in overtime with Jordan Matthews scored on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford with rookie Byron Jones slipping and J.J. Wilcox failing to make a tackle at the 19. Just as Bradford was letting loose with the ball, Greg Hardy was about to hit him.
That is the definition of the season. Close but not good enough.
While that play ended the game, the Cowboys allowed other opportunities to get away.
They can look to a Terrance Williams touchdown that was called back in the second quarter due to a pass interference penalty.
They can look at a pick-six by Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks in the fourth quarter that was returned 67 yards for a score. It was the second interception returned for a score in three games for Matt Cassel.
They can look to a defense that was unable to take the ball away for the sixth time in eight games.
While the effort was game and they fought as hard as Jason Garrett wants, it just wasn’t good enough, which has been the story of their season since Romo went down.
Close but not good enough.
Throw up the X: Dez Bryant had a 51-yard catch on the Cowboys’ fourth play and was not heard from again until the fourth quarter when he was on the receiving end of a Cassel heave for an 18-yard score. It was Bryant’s fourth touchdown in two games against the Eagles. It was a typical Bryant catch because of how athletic a play it was but it was not something by design of the offense. The good news? He finished with 104 yards on five catches.
The new DeMarco Murray: Darren McFadden was not considered a physical runner but he certainly looked like Murray on Sunday, with Murray watching on the opposite sideline. For the second time in three games, Murray had more than 100 yards, finishing with 117 on 27 carries and continuing a hot run. He had 152 yards against the New York Giants on Oct. 25 on 29 carries.
What were they thinking? The Cowboys deferred to open the game in hopes of gaining an edge with the final drive of the first half and the opening drive of the second half. They failed on both accounts. On the first drive of the third quarter, the Cowboys used a three-tight end formation on four straight plays and the drive stalled. It seemed a curious mix of plays to start the half even with how well the Cowboys ran the ball in the first two quarters.
One reason to get excited: There was a Cole Beasley sighting. He had the first 100-yard game of his career and second multi-touchdown game of his career. This all came after he went two games without a catch with Cassel as the starter. Beasley did not have a catch since late in the third quarter of the Oct. 11 loss to the New England Patriots. He made up for it Sunday.
One reason to panic: Try as they might, the defense just can’t make a play when the Cowboys need it most. For the second straight week, they were able to hold the opposition to a field goal late in the fourth quarter, but they needed to hold the Eagles — and the Seahawks last week — off the board altogether. Caleb Sturgis’ 53-yard field goal with 1:46 to play came after a 34-yard pass to Jordan Matthews. And in overtime they were beaten by the big play with Matthews’ score.
Defense ailing: Injuries have killed the Cowboys offense. On Sunday they hit the defense. Sean Lee suffered his second concussion in five games when he was forced to the locker room in the third quarter after a tackle of ex-teammate Murray. He suffered a concussion Oct. 4 at New Orleans but was able to return the following week. Anthony Hitchens suffered a left ankle injury on the same drive and did not return. In the fourth quarter, Byron Jones appeared to hurt his knee but returned after a snap. The Cowboys lost defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on the next play, but he was able to return.