After a 3-0 start got everybody all excited by his prospects, the Eagles rookie came crashing back to Earth last night.
Not Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson.
While the Cowboys comeback will be placed mostly on the heroics of quarterback Dak Prescott, the Eagles’ first-year coach made a number of errors down the stretch that held the door open for the Cowboys.
Among the mistakes was punting to the Cowboys rather than try a 54-yard field goal with 6:34 left, which would have given them a 10-point lead in a game that went to overtime. Kicker Caleb Sturgis had hit 17 straight field goals, including a 55-yarder just before halftime.
“(I) felt comfortable doing that, making that decision,” Pederson said, via Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com. “The thing is, field position at that time is critical. [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.”
Yeah, about that previous play. On the third down in question, Pederson dialed up a screen pass, which was sniffed out and dropped for a 6-yard loss. Pederson said that pushed them out of field goal range (even if it really didn’t). Either way, it was a poorly timed screen.
Wait, there’s more. Even after the Eagles allowed the tying drive, the could have forced the Cowboys to punt from deep in their territory with around 25 seconds left, but let the clock roll out on regulation rather than using their available timeouts. So instead of trying for a punt block, or having them punt it to Darren Sproles, they watched helplessly and waited for the Cowboys to win the coin toss.
They never got the ball back.
“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,” Pederson 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.”
Pederson talking about learning lessons from the loss, and he said: “I think just, for me, staying aggressive, No. 1.”
But nothing he did late in that game suggested aggressive, and made him look like nothing more than the star student at the Andy Reid School of Late-Game Clock Management. Which, of course, is the one he attended.