Jerry’s World been good to Ea­gles

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

Ridicu­lous as it sounds, there’s no place like AT&T Sta­dium for the Ea­gles.

His­tori­cially, Jerry’s World is ex­actly where the Ea­gles want to be for their Sun­day night show­down for the NFC East lead with the Dal­las Cow­boys (8:30 p.m., NBC10, WIP 94.1-FM).

The Ea­gles have won three straight games there. They’re 5-2 (.714) at the Eighth Won­der of the World, the best win­ning per­cent­age of any op­po­nent that’s played at least three games at the venue.

Sure, this is a busi­ness trip. But it’s also a fun trip. Jerry’s World is like a Dis­ney World get­away for the Ea­gles, who beat the Cow­boys there in over­time last year.

“Dal­las is a cool place to play,” Ea­gles’ lead­ing re­ceiver Jor­dan Matthews said. “I mean, it’s like you’re at a con­cert. It’s crazy. Ev­ery time I go, it doesn’t re­ally feel like an away game. It feels like just this big hoopla. It’s crazy be­cause of the Ea­gles fans. They travel like crazy to that game. The Cow­boys fans, they’re go­ing to be there, and they’re fight­ing each other. And then you’ve got tourists there. And then there’s a TV that’s big as like three cities.

“So it’s a whole bunch of stuff go­ing on. Half the time, I think the de­fen­sive backs don’t even no­tice me run­ning around. So I guess that’s why I had a cou­ple of big games there.”

None were big­ger than last year, when Matthews caught a 41-yard touch­down pass from Sam Brad­ford in over­time to lift the Ea­gles to a 33-27 vic­tory.

Matthews caught a game­high nine passes for 133 yards that day as the Ea­gles ba­si­cally put the Matt Cas­sel-led Cow­boys to rest.

Much has changed since. The Ea­gles are quar­ter­backed by rookie Car­son Wentz, the sec­ond over­all pick in the draft who has guided them to a sur­pris­ing 4-2 record. The Cow­boys are rolling with Dak Prescott, the fourth-round pick who has per­formed well enough that Dal­las has a bud­ding quar­ter­back con­tro­versy on the hori­zon. Jones is the one who said Dal­las is Tony Romo’s team.

While that’s an­other is­sue for an­other week, this will be the first game Prescott starts af­ter Romo has thrown the ball around at prac­tice in the week lead­ing up to kick­off. If Prescott blows up, you know who, and what, was in his head. Then again, it could be the Philly pass rush.

Prescott has taken in­cred­i­bly good care of the foot­ball, hav­ing thrown just one in­ter­cep­tion, and has op­er­ated ex­tremely ef­fi­ciently in the Cow­boys’ of­fense fu­eled by the run. He has seven touch­down passes.

The job is to get the ball to Ezekiel El­liott, the league’s lead­ing rusher, and let the star-stud­ded of­fen­sive line make some creases. That’s where the game likely will be won or lost, up front.

“They like to push, they like to grab hold of you and just move you and bleed you for five, 10 yards,” Ea­gles line­backer Jor­dan Hicks said. “So it’s go­ing to be on us to come down hill and stay stout at the point of at­tack.”

If the Ea­gles stop the run, it min­i­mizes the play-ac­tion passes to slot re­ceiver Cole Beasley, whose quick­ness al­ways kills the Ea­gles, and Dez Bryant, who is re­turn­ing af­ter miss­ing three games with a knee is­sue. Then there’s tight end Ja­son Wit­ten, who at 6-6, 250-pounds is a match-up night­mare for ev­ery team.

“They’re play­ing at a re­ally high level,” de­fen­sive tackle Fletcher Cox said. “They have a week of rest from the bye and they’ll be ready for this game. It’s a big week for us. An­other ri­valry and we’re ex­cited to go out and play.”

Prescott isn’t in­vin­ci­ble. He’s lost two fum­bles. The Giants beat him in the opener at AT&T.

On the other side of the ball, the Ea­gles haven’t made a big deal out of it but it’s pretty ap­par­ent their op­po­nent doesn’t play Dooms­day De­fense.

If the Philly de­fense gets some stops, Wentz and the of­fense should be able to make plays against an out­fit that lacks a pass rush and qual­ity vet­eran play­ers, the ma­jor ex­cep­tion be­ing line­backer Sean Lee.

Wentz, who got to know Jones at the Se­nior Bowl, has made mostly solid de­ci­sions for the Ea­gles. That his­tory and the fact that this is Cow­boys week should pump him up.

“I know how much this means to the city,” Wentz said. “I know how much it means to the fans. There’s a lot of ex­cite­ment go­ing on with Ea­gles foot­ball. But def­i­nitely this week, I rec­og­nize that.”

Ea­gles head coach Doug Ped­er­son, on the othe hand, hasn’t made a big deal about mov­ing into first in the NFC East via head to head tiebreaker with a win. That should be part of the pre-game speech. The same with the heated Ea­gles-Cow­boys ri­valry.

“It’s a di­vi­sion game,” Ped­er­son said. “We slipped up ear­lier in the di­vi­sion. You re­mind the team that if you want to be one of the teams at the end of the year you’ve got to han­dle your di­vi­sion op­po­nents and all that. You can also visit a lit­tle bit of the his­tory of this game and the times that I played here and coached here be­fore and just talk about it. It is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. But our guys have just got to come ready to play. Ob­vi­ously we lost to Wash­ing­ton on the road there, and we’ve got to make sure we han­dle that.”

While it is a road game, it’s a place the Ea­gles love vis­it­ing.

“We en­joy play­ing ev­ery­where,” Cox said. “Our last two games on the road, we took an ‘L.’ We have to go down there and come out with a lot of en­ergy as a team and suck the air out of that sta­dium real quick.”

MICHAEL AINSWORTH — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Philadel­phia Ea­gles’ Jor­dan Matthews (81) fights off a tackle at­tempt by Dal­las Cow­boys’ J.J. Wil­cox to score in over­time last sea­son. The Ea­gles have proven they can at AT&T Sta­dium.

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