PHI-DAL grades: Eagles win as Cowboys prioritize Week 17 rest
Philadelphia Eagles 27, Dallas Cowboys 13
Here are the highest-graded players and key takeaways from Philadelphia’s 27-13 victory over Dallas.
Quarterback grade: Carson Wentz, 45.7
Erratic finale for Wentz
Carson Wentz closed out his rookie season with a win and a two-touchdown performance, but he was guilty of some wild, and at times dangerous, inaccuracy throughout the game. Outside of the numbers in the short areas of the field the Wentz went 4-of-9 for 26 yards with misses and forced passes that deserved to have at least one turnover in the game. The Eagles shortened the game in the fourth quarter with their ground game to give Wentz a win, but this was an up-and-down performance from Wentz, who was somewhat fortunate not to have been made to pay for some of his lows.
Top offensive grades:
C Jason Kelce, 87.7
LT Jason Peters, 85.4
TE Zach Ertz, 84.2
RG Brandon Brooks, 78.8
RT Lane Johnson, 77.1
Eagles’ line make the difference to grind the game out
Presented with the opportunity to wear down the lower reaches of the Cowboys’ defensive depth chart as this game wore on, the Eagles’ offensive line took full advantage. After the Eagles’ struggled to take control of the game in the first half their offensive line kept the Dallas defense at bay in the second half, surrendering pressure to Wentz on only 12 of his 47 dropbacks while gradually wearing down their run defense on a near eight-minute drive to shorten the fourth quarter. This set the stage for Zach Ertz in the passing game and a host of running backs on the ground, with Terrell Watson capping off the victory as Brent Celek drove Jack Crawford into the end zone in a fitting display of the Eagles’ dominance at the line of scrimmage by the end of the game.
Top defensive grades:
DE Brandon Graham, 88.7
LB Jordan Hicks, 86.4
DT Fletcher Cox, 83.7
LB Nigel Bradham, 81.8
S Rodney McLeod, 79.5
Graham and Cox bring the heat against Smith-less Cowboys’ offensive line
The Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line may have been short their starting left tackle and left guard in this game but Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox both got plenty of production and disruption against a fully intact right side. Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and Doug Free were all on the field for every snap and the fearsome duo of Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox got the best of this high-class matchup. Graham racked up five pressures (1 hit, 4 hurries) for the ninth time this season with Cox adding four more of his own, topping that mark for the eighth time this season. Jordan Hicks made his mark in coverage once again with a pair of picks from Mark Sanchez as the Eagles’ defense closed the Cowboys’ offense down after Tony Romo’s touchdown drive.
Quarterback grade: Mark Sanchez, 44.3
Sanchez seals third-string job for the playoffs
The bigger national story might be about Tony Romo’s touchdown drive, but his performance didn’t show near enough for the Cowboys to even remotely consider giving Romo more than a clipboard in the playoffs so long as Dak Prescott is healthy. The QB getting most of the game was Mark Sanchez, and he did enough in this game to slide below Tony Romo on the depth chart after the Cowboys’ bye next week. Picked twice by Jordan Hicks, including one on a screen, Sanchez also showed elusiveness in the pocket, which he converted into a 19-yard loss on a sack in the game’s dying moments as the Eagles extended their lead in the final two minutes. Sanchez completed 50 percent of his total passes and had a lower passer rating and PFF grade on the 50 percent of snaps he wasn’t pressured compared to the 11 snaps where he was pressured.
Top offensive grades:
WR Cole Beasley, 73.4
WR Terrance Williams, 71.1
C Travis Frederick, 66.2
LG Joe Looney, 58.2
HB Lance Dunbar, 55.6
Shorthanded Cowboys make it through unscathed
The key for the Cowboys in this Week 17 game was to get through the game without any injury concerns; any eye-catching performances to highlight depth heading into the postseason would be an extra bonus, and they didn’t materialize. Cole Beasley’s 33-yard gain into double coverage was the longest pass play of the game and Terrance Williams worked free one-on-one with Nolan Carroll for Tony Romo’s touchdown but with the likes of Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott not seeing the field (or the state of Pennsylvania, in Smith’s case), and Dak Prescott out after 15 snaps there is little to read into this game for the Cowboys.
Top defensive grades:
CB Anthony Brown, 80.6
LB Damien Wilson, 80.5
LB Anthony Hitchens, 78.4
S J.J. Wilcox, 76.9
CB Leon McFadden, 76.7
Highlights and questions as Cowboys ease into the bye
You don’t want to read too much into what was an almost entirely meaningless game for the Cowboys, particularly by the fourth quarter, but the inability of their defense to come up with a stop against the run in the final stanza is as close to a concern as Jason Garrett will have from this game. The pass rush was lacking in terms of volume, but they did at least convert more than 50 percent of their pressures into hits and sacks to make Wentz pay when they did get through on a pass rush. The bright notes for the Cowboys came from the likes of Damien Wilson with three defensive stops for the second time this season and Anthony Brown, who recorded the Cowboys’ only pass breakup in the game.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Eagles LB Jordan Hicks
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