The Eagles fell to 3-4 Sunday, but more importantly forfeited a valuable opportunity to take control of the NFC East. (USA Today Images)
The Eagles had a chance Sunday to take over first place in the NFC East, and they blew it.
And who knows when the next opportunity will come along.
The Eagles against the Cowboys on Sunday looked more like the team that sputtered to a 4-12 record last year than a team that belongs in first place, even in a watered-down 2013 NFC East.
In their biggest game under Chip Kelly, they didn’t score a touchdown, they were held under 400 yards –- and 300 yards -– for the first time this year, and they lost a franchise-record ninth straight home loss in a 17-3 embarrassment at the hands of the Cowboys (see story).
So instead of the Eagles taking command of the division, it’s the Cowboys who sit on top of the NFC East at 4-3 with a 4-0 record against NFC teams and a 3-0 mark against the NFC East.
“Especially with it being for first place, this one stings more than those other ones did,” Cary Williams said.
The Eagles fell to 3-4 and 0-4 against teams with more than two wins. Their three wins have come against teams that are a combined 2-16.
“First place or not, to come out and play the way we did is disappointing,” Jason Avant said.
“You don’t want to go out all week, practice hard, watch extra film and then come out and play like this. It looked like we didn’t prepare right, which certainly wasn’t the case. It was certainly sad for us to come out and play like that at home.”
The Eagles had an opportunity to do a lot of things Sunday. Move into first place. Post a winning record. End their year-long home losing streak.
More than anything, they had a chance to show that they’re on the right track under Kelly, that they can play with a competitive team and beat an elite quarterback.
Instead, they were barely competitive. At least on offense.
“There was so much to gain from this game,” LeSean McCoy said. “We just didn’t get it done today.”
If you want to play scoreboard, the Eagles now find themselves one game and a tiebreaker behind the Cowboys.
If Dallas goes 5-4 the rest of the way, the Eagles would have to go 7-2 to finish ahead of them, assuming the Cowboys finish with a tiebreaker edge. The two teams meet on the final day of the season in Arlington.
The Eagles’ next two opponents, the Giants and Raiders, are a combined 2-10, and then the Eagles are off to Lambeau Field to face the Packers.
As for Sunday, it was the Eagles’ third loss by 14 or more points during their nine-game home losing streak and only the second time in franchise history they’ve scored three or fewer points at home against the Cowboys.
"Man, it was tough,” Jason Peters said. “Very disappointed. To come out here, we hadn’t even won a game at home. It’s disappointing for the fans to come in and disappointing for the team. It’s just a bad deal all the way around."
The Eagles haven’t reached the playoffs since 2010, haven’t won a playoff game since 2008, and haven’t won a home playoff game since 2006.
And if the Eagles don’t get their act together soon, this season will quickly go back to being all about draft position instead of playoff position.
“It’s disappointing that we couldn’t get this win today,” DeMeco Ryans said.
“Definitely a big game for us in our division and we felt like we had a good shot to get it. We’ve just got to get back to work. Get back to work, see how we can make it better and come out with wins.”