By Julie Glass
The question for Eagles fans this morning after last night’s choke job loss to the Dallas Cowboys is:
Just how many Doug Pederson brain farts do we have to witness before we ask if he is intellectually up to the job of Eagles coach?
With 6:34 left in the four quarter last night, the Eagles had a seven-point lead and an opportunity to try a 54-yard field go up two scores.
Instead they punted the ball and the game away.
The Cowboys made them pay, scoring a touchdown to tie the game before winning the game 29-23 in overtime at AT&T Field .
“(I) felt comfortable doing that, making that decision,” Pederson said after the game.
Kicker Caleb Sturgis has made his last 17 field goals, including a 55-yarder at the end of the first half, so a 53-yarder was certainly in his range.
“The thing is, field position at that time is critical,” Pederson explained. “[Sturgis] did kick the one before half, which was an excellent kick with no time left on the clock. Had we executed on the third-down play, we would have been in a little better position to kick the field goal at that time and we just didn’t execute on the play before.”
The punt was a good one, though, and pinned the Cowboys at their own 10-yard line. The Eagles’ defense then gave up a 90-yard drive in 3:22 as the Cowboys tied the game.
Just before the punt with 6:34 left, the Eagles ran a little screen-like pass to Darren Sproles. But instead of picking up yardage to make the kick easier, the play lost six yards and Pederson said it “knocked [them] out of field-goal range at that time.”
“The first one, 3rd-and-8, play designed to get Sproles the ball out in space and the linebacker actually made a play on it,” Pederson said. “Designed actually for that look, for that coverage. Give them credit.”
When Connor Barwin sacked Dak Prescott on second down with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles still had timeouts and could have forced a punt to get the ball back. Instead, Pederson decided to let the game go to overtime.
“I just felt too at that time, because our defense was playing extremely well, I had made up my mind at that time to go ahead and get us into overtime,” the head coach said. “Hopefully win the coin toss, take the ball and be in a position to score. And/or put our defense out there who had just come off a great drive and they were fired up, to put them back on the field. So it was just my decision to do that.”
On Wendell Smallwood’s fumble that gave the Cowboys the ball at the Eagles’ 36-yard line, which led to a quick field goal and cut the Eagles’ lead to 23-16.
“No, it was the way the game was going at the time,” Pederson said. “It was a safe play, safe run. We had a couple of assignment issues up front. But, you know, just have to learn to hang onto the ball in those situations. We know it was going to be tight running and running lanes and just gotta hang on to the ball.
“I think just, for me, staying aggressive, No. 1,” he said. “I think that’s been something I’ve prided myself on, but being smart with it at the same time. I think, No. 2, you learn to, I think one of the positives was Darren was hot. Darren was having a great game and you gotta keep feeding him the ball and get him the ball as many times as you can, as many touches as you can and let a guy like Darren use his athleticism to make plays. I think you learn from that. It’s definitely a learning situation all around.”