Eagles coach Doug Pederson kept the extra point on the board and the game tied for three reasons.
The game situation.
His offense was shaky.
His defense was shakier.
Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Regardless, let’s review.
The Eagles had tied Sunday’s game against the Cowboys at 23 with 1:39 left in regulation, with a penalty called against Dallas on the PAT. The game and effectively the season were on the line.
“I got a report on this,” Pederson said Monday, a day after the Eagles’ playoff hopes took a devastating hit with a 29-23 overtime loss. “I can't off the top of my head think of exactly the numbers, but everything was in favor of going for one.”
If the Eagles miss the conversion, the game’s all but over. Dallas runs out the clock.
If the Eagles make it and take the lead, then Dallas still has plenty of time to drive for the game-winning field goal.
The Cowboys in the fourth quarter were having their way with the Eagles’ D. Plus, the Cowboys didn’t need to go far given that their kicker, Brett Maher, already had kicked a 62-yarder.
Now, what changes for the Cowboys with the game tied? They still have the same amount of time, and a field goal still wins it, but their mindset and number of downs may differ. With the game tied, Dallas doesn’t have to play desperate, and the Eagles likely would have to stop them on only three downs instead of four.
“Now, they're not as likely to go for it on fourth down, right?” Pederson said. “There is a chance now fourth-and-8 that they say, ‘You know what? We're going to punt the football.’ ”
Had the Cowboys been down a point, they obviously go for it on fourth down.
“Dallas has two timeouts and every down available to stay on the field and kick the game-winning field goal, right?” Pederson said.
And lest you forget, the Eagles’ defense has had some trouble this season on fourth down.
“Again, with two timeouts and all four downs and we hadn't really stopped them — we can spin this thing a hundred different ways,” Pederson said. “I mean, I don't know. I still stand by my decision.”
Plus, Pederson pointed out, by electing to keep the point on the board and enforce the penalty on the kickoff, the Eagles kick from midfield and can pin Dallas deep in its own territory. (Cole Beasley returned it eight yards to the 18.)
Then there’s the problem with the Eagles’ offense. Yes, the offense woke up in the fourth quarter, and yes they just needed a yard because of the Cowboys penalty, but that doesn’t mean Pederson was feeling great about it.
Had the Eagles lined up for two, how confident would you have been? The running game — with Carson Wentz or anyone else — had hardly inspired confidence.
Josh Adams, their biggest back, had 30 yards on his first three carries but just six on his final four. And are you really giving the ball to a rookie in that situation? Corey Clement was hurt. Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles had just two combined carries for five yards.
But what about the Carolina game last year, you ask, when Pederson went for two after a penalty moved the ball to the 1-yard line — just like Sunday — and made it?
Different situation on a couple of levels.
First, it was the third quarter of a Week 6 game. Second, the Eagles had just taken a six-point lead.
Pederson last year said the success rate was 60-40 and said he’d do it in the first quarter or the fourth quarter. But he also said he was “comfortable” with the way the Eagles were running the ball at the time.
Doug Pederson in 2017, when asked about taking a point off the board to go for two from the 1-yard line after a penalty on the PAT... pic.twitter.com/KqqpjsLU0U
Pederson on Monday admitted the success rate “is about the same.”
“That was in the third quarter. This is inside two minutes,” he said.
“In those situations — end-of-game situations — are different than third-quarter situations. They are totally different. So we played the percentages at the end of the game, right? And quite frankly, gave us the best chance of winning that game.”
Former Philadelphia Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann tweeted a direct quote from The NFL Instant Replay Casebook: “A player coming out of a pile with the ball is not a clear recovery. If the players piled on the ball are all from the same team, then it is a clear recovery.”
Based on that, the Eagles clearly recovered the ball.
In a curious moment during Monday’s press conference, Pederson said he had to be “careful” not to speak for hobbled cornerback Sidney Jones, who has been playing through a lingering hamstring injury that has sidelined him four games this season.
In and out of Sunday’s game because of the injury, Jones was beaten by Amari Cooper for a 28-yard score.
Pederson said they’ll evaluate Jones daily and “make sure that he’s right not only physically but mentally.”
“You’ll have to continue to ask Sidney on the rest of it,” Pederson said.
Pederson praised Jones, calling him a “tremendous corner” but admitted it’s been “tough to get a true evaluation” of him this season.
“I think for any player that's dealing with injury, you focus on that just a little bit and it can pull you away from playing at a high level at times,” Pederson said. “I think that's where I can appreciate guys, and Sidney is one of them, guys that each week — everybody is a little banged up, a little sore, going through stuff. For them to battle through it, be out there at practice every day, and put themselves out there for the team I think is a credit to each player. Sidney is one of those guys.”
Cornerback Jalen Mills was placed on injured reserve because his foot injury didn’t heal as quickly as the team had hoped.
“We were very optimistic that Jalen was going to get better, and it just wasn’t there,” Pederson said.
Pederson said it’s possible Avonte Maddox (ankle, knee) returns for Sunday’s game in Los Angeles against the Rams. Maddox has missed the last three games.
As for those suffering injuries against Dallas, Pederson said the team is awaiting MRI results on Clement (knee) and Josh Sweat (ankle). Isaac Seumalo (pectoral) is day to day.