ARLINGTON – Less than a week ago on this late-season whirlwind tour, the Cowboys were in New York, celebrating a top-of-the-NFC-East win over the Giants with DeMarco Murray cranking up Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in the locker room.
Thursday against the Eagles? There was no “Happy” to go with the “Thanksgiving.”
“We played like some s—s today,’’ Orlando Scandrick told me, evaluating the 33-10 loss, later adding, ’’They kicked our ass. Offense. Defense. Kicking game. They did whatever they wanted to against us.” The Eagles executed as if they’d been allowed extra days, weeks, months to prepare. The Cowboys executed as if they were hung over on L-tryptophan.
Shady McCoy is the centerpiece of the Eagles offense — especially of the read-option, against which you simply must key on him. But when you do that, you lessen the pressure on the QB, thus freeing somebody like Mark Sanchez to proceed largely un-harrassed through a game. The Cowboys needed to bottle up McCoy. And then harass Sanchez. Or, heck, do at least one of those.
In slipping to 8-4, and a game behind the 9-3 Eagles, Dallas did neither.
McCoy rolled up huge numbers in huge chunks (25 carries for 159 yards, part of Philly’s 256 rushing yards), rightfully drawing the defense to him … and then Sanchez badly out-dueled Tony Romo. Yes, “out-dueled.’’ QB vs. QB. And lest you think that’s unfair — “How can it be QB vs. QB when they don’t play on the same field at the same time?’’ — understand that this was destined to be a high-scoring game (with a Vegas over/under of 56), that Dallas’ D was only going to be able to endure at best, and that Romo and Company was the unit that was going to have to pressure, match and overcome.
And why shouldn’t Romo beat Sanchez? This is “Romovember.’’ This is Romo’s time. In addition to his MVP-level numbers this year after the Week 1 loss to San Francisco (he entered Thursday with 22 TDs and three picks and an 8-1 record), his all-time mark on Thanksgiving is 6-1, with a 18 TD/6 INT ratio. He also entered Thursday with three straight wins over the NFC East-rival Eagles, and heck, even the “Blue-Jersey Curse’’ is crushed by the QB, as Romo’s lifetime record in non-whites is … er, was … 10-4.
Meanwhile, Sanchez (despite all the stupid butt-fumble-level memes) has a blue-chip pedigree, but … in the NFL, on the road, against good teams … he was indeed a joke. Sanchez came in with a 16-17 record on the road. His road QB rating was 75.2 and his completion percentage was 56.1 while throwing for 34 touchdowns and 38 interceptions — oh, and toss in 14 lost fumbles atop that junkheap as well.
And on the road against winning teams? Sanchez came in at 4-9.
But Sanchez, freed by Shady’s work and then by the score that was 14-0 almost as soon as Lee Ann Womack sang the National Anthem and way before Pitbull did whatever it is he does at halftime, was permitted to operate freely. He carved Dallas up with 20 completions in 29 throws for 217 yards, most of that at halftime.
Meanwhile, Romo protectively collapsed to the turf while getting sacked four times and on a 18-of-29/199-yard/two-interception passing day, threw a handful of heaves that had the trajectory of a wet paper airplane.
Coming into this thing, the Cowboys swore they weren’t inspired by disrespectful Philly words from veteran McCoy and Bennie Logan, the rookie who said he saw nothing “special” about Dallas’ offensive line. Owner Jerry Jones was fired up in the pregame, saying Logan was “going to get his you-know-what knocked off today.”
The Cowboys found it insulting for any one to think the gap between these two programs — in terms of coaching, talent and records — is much of a gap at all. On Thanksgiving, not only are they wrong about that; they are also wrong about not bothering to be inspired by the disrespect.
Maybe going from being “happy” last week to being “inspired” this week would’ve helped here.