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Cowboys vs. Eagles: 10 thoughts including gaining the most yards on offense in 40 years

Here are 10 thoughts on the Cowboys 29-23 win over the Eagles.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys did it! It wasn’t pretty and there were many times we thought things were going to go south, but in the end - this group pulled it off. Thanks to knocking off the New Orleans Saints last week as well as a loss by the Houston Texans, the Cowboys now have the longest active winning streak in the NFL.

After things looked bleak at the midway point of the season, the Cowboys have now won five straight and are in great shape for a playoff run. There was no lack of excitement in this game and here are 10 thoughts on the Cowboys big win over the Eagles.

1. Worth a first

In just his sixth game in a Cowboys uniform, Amari Cooper had the best game of his career. He finished with 10 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. He’s had two Pro Bowl seasons with Oakland, but two of his three best games of his career have come with the Cowboys. His numbers since joining the Cowboys prorated over 16 games would be: 106 catches, 1,712 yards, and 16 touchdowns. That’s elite.

Cooper has been such a boost for the offense as he has become a big third-down weapon for Dak Prescott. Not only is he moving the chains, but he’s coming through with some big plays. After hauling in a 40-yard touchdown and a 90-yard score on Thanksgiving, Cooper showed up with a 75-yarder against the Eagles. He’s such a tough cover, but he’s adding big plays to this offense.

Is he worth a first? You betcha he is!

The Cooper trade has to be considered one of the better midseason moves this organization has ever made. Mrs. Phantom sure thinks Cooper is worth a first-round pick and she’s got the t-shirt to prove it (get your t-shirt).

2. Redemption Dak

The defense played three outstanding quarters, but it looked as if it would be all for naught because the offense couldn’t score points. Through three quarters, Dak Prescott had three turnovers and the Cowboys offense had no touchdowns. It was as if he was just giving the game away.

But then, the table turned. The defense suddenly couldn’t stop the Eagles offense. Philadelphia scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, but luckily the Cowboys offense started coming alive. Prescott, as he often does, shakes off mistakes like they never existed. Despite three early turnovers, Prescott delivered three late touchdown passes. He threw for a career high 455 yards. He completed 42 passes on the day, which is a Cowboys franchise record. A franchise that’s had Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Tony Romo. Some of then were short-passes, but some of them were not. Remember when we thought Dak never goes deep?

Sometimes things don’t go so good for him, but he isn’t rattled and just goes out and makes the next play. It’s why Jerry Jones loves him, it’s why Jason Garrett loves him, and on Sunday - it’s why we love him.

3. Zeke’s a beast

The love doesn’t stop with Amari and Dak. Ezekiel Elliott was a workhorse on Sunday. He touched the ball 40 times on the day, grinding out 192 total scrimmage yards. The Cowboys have wanted to get him more involved in the passing game this season and they have. Entering the game, he’s had four games where he’s had 50+ yard receiving. The most catches he’s had in a game for his career has been seven. But he blew that out of the water with 12 catches on Sunday. And his big yardage totals weren’t inflated by a big screen play. He ground out those receptions. Elliott was great as a runner and great as a receiver. He was just great.

The Cowboys looked like they were going to have their worst offensive performance of the season, but then they ended up churning out the most yards in 40 years! It was the best showing yet from the Cowboys new triplets and one that has never been done before.

4. What happened to the defense?

When Anthony Brown made a great pass break up on third down with six minutes left to play and the Cowboys leading 16-9, it felt like that’s all she wrote for the Eagles. The Cowboys defense just wasn’t giving way for Philadelphia to get anything going. All the Cowboys had to do was chew a little clock and produce one more stop and they could get out of this game with a win.

Well, that didn’t happen at all. The offense didn’t chew much clock. The next Cowboys possession only used 11 seconds. But more surprising was how the Eagles offense just exploded. Next possession, four plays - boom touchdown. Then after the Cowboys turned around and struck on a 75-yard touchdown on their very first play, once again it looked like the game was over. But nope, Philly turned in a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive that only used 1:22. All of a sudden, this dominate defense couldn’t stop anyone. Even Byron Jones, who has been shutting people down this year, allowed a big passing play.

5. The coach with courage

Joe Buck made a point to remind everyone that the Eagles were 5-5 on two-point conversions this season, but for some reason Doug Pederson elected to kick the extra point late in the game. It was odd because the Eagles defense hadn’t shown much ability to stop the Cowboys offense. Why not go for the win there? He opted to play it safe and the game went into overtime.

The bold decision actually came from Jason Garrett in the bonus period. When Zeke came up short on third down at the Eagles 19-yard line, Garrett chose to leave the offense on the field and go for the win. The Cowboys converted and then three plays later, they won the game on the Cooper touchdown.

In spite of his reputation, Jason Garrett makes these types of decisions. He has a good feel for his team and what they can do.

6. Tight end by committee

The Cowboys didn’t have their starting tight end Geoff Swaim so they used a committee to get it done. Blake Jarwin caught seven passes for 56 yards. Dalton Schultz caught three passes for 37 yards. These were career highs for both players. Prescott threw 11 passes to his tight ends and all 11 passes were caught.

Jarwin made a few nice grabs to convert on third down, including a pass that was thrown behind him. And Schultz had a big 17-yard reception in overtime. These guys were making plays. It was as if someone spilled water on Swaim and he multiplied into more tight ends. You couldn’t tell the difference.

And all three of them came up big when they sealed off the edge for Zeke on that fourth down play.

Photo courtesy of NFL Game Pass

Despite not having an athletic playmaker at the position, this group remains efficient with good blocking and solid pass catching that keeps the chains moving.

7. The big leg pays off

You have to give Doug Pederson props earlier in the game. The Cowboys were driving the ball toward the end of the first half when they came up short after Dak Prescott was tackled a couple yards short of the first down. On that play, Tyron Smith was called for holding. Rather than decline the penalty and force the Cowboys to settle for a chip shot field goal, Pederson accepted it and moved them back 10 yards. After a third-down stop, the Cowboys attempted a 45-yard field goal. Brett Maher pushed it right and the Cowboys came away with no points.

But Maher got his chance to redeem himself at the end of the first half when he launched a 62-yard field goal. 62 yards!

The Cowboys front office made a bold decision to move away from Dan Bailey and rely on the leg of Brett Maher. It’s worked out okay. Even though Maher has his occasional misses, he’s still knocking down field goals at a better rate than Bailey.

But more than that, Maher has a big leg on him. For years with Bailey, you knew his limitations. His longest field goal over his seven-year career in Dallas was 56 yards. That also was the longest field goal by any kicker in Cowboys history. Was. In just his 13th game in a Cowboys uniform, that honor now goes to Maher.

8. Another Zack scare

The Cowboys offensive line has endured all kinds of injuries this season, but it looked like things got worse when their All-Pro right guard Zack Martin left the game with a knee injury. Rookie Connor Williams, who’s been relegated to the bench in favor of Xavier Su’a-Filo, got a chance to get back into action filling in for Martin. The rookie did okay as the offense continued to funtion. If anything, it was Tyron Smith who really struggled. In his first game back after missing the last two, Smith got called for not one, not two, but three holding penalties. The veteran left tackle struggled.

While the Cowboys survived without Martin, it doesn’t appear they’re going to have to be without him very long.

9. Bad calls

From the moment Jourdan Lewis took off running from the end zone, it just looked like a bad idea. I’m not sure why he didn’t just take the touchback, but Lewis is a competitor and wanted to make a play. Unfortunately, the play he made was a bad one. Lewis fumbled the ball as he was being tackled. Initially, he was ruled down, but the Eagles challenged the play.

You could clearly see Eagles players on top of the ball, but for reasons unbeknownst to most, they came out of the review claiming there was no clear recovery of the football. What could they possibly have been looking at? The Cowboys got a huge break on that play and Eagles fans had to be livid. And rightfully so.

The Eagles got hosed again late in the fourth quarter when rookie Dallas Goedert got called for an offensive pass interference. I just didn’t see it.

The Eagles weren’t the only team on the wrong end of calls. Randy Gregory was called for roughing the passer when all he did was tackle Carson Wentz by the leg. I thought tackling was allowed. DeMarcus Lawrence got called for a weird helmet penalty on an extra point that moved the ensuing kickoff up 15 yards. It’s not clear what that was about. And Ezekiel Elliott got the first ever (in regular season) call against an offensive player for hitting with his helmet. That one we can see, but when is that ever called?

10. Cowboys run the East

With the win over the Eagles, the Cowboys now have a two-game lead over both the Eagles and the Washington Redskins thanks to the New York Giants smoking the Skins 40-16. The NFC East standings now look like this:

The Cowboys hold the tiebreaker over the Eagles by virtue of sweeping them and over the Redskins because of a better division record. For either of those teams to jump the Cowboys in the division, they would need to win out and have the Cowboys lose all three of their remaining games. That means the magic number (Cowboys wins + Eagles/Redskins loss) to win the division is just one. Dallas can lock up the division with a win over the Indianapolis Colts next week.

The Redskins are in a state of emergency as the wheels have fallen off their season after losing their quarterbacks to injury. The Eagles chances took a big blow on Sunday and now they get to play the Los Angeles Rams. Their playoff chances can be summed up by Rasul Douglas’ expression after that Amari touchdown.

Photo courtesy of NFL Game Pass

Even the Giants aren’t doing themselves any favors.

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