The Dallas Cowboys quieted a lot of discontent with a totally dominant 37-10 win over division rivals the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a game they never trailed. Not only that, they had at least a full touchdown lead for almost the entire contest that just grew as the game progressed.
This was much more than just a win to quell some of our unease, of course. This was for the undisputed lead for the NFC East crown and the attached playoff spot. Now Dallas has beaten all three of its division rivals, and all by big margins. With the New York Giants and Washington both looking inept, to be kind, the division was already shaping up to be a two team race. The contenders met in this game, and the Cowboys completely outclassed the Eagles. This was the most points scored by Dallas this year, and the biggest margin of victory.
Oh, how sweet it is.
The game was basically decided early in the first quarter, as the plan by Doug Pederson to take the opening kickoff to try and get the Eagles off to a fast start completely blew up in their beaks. After getting an initial first down, disaster struck Philadelphia as Dallas Goedert lost the handle at the Eagles’ 45. Disaster for them, of course, was all good news for the Cowboys. This was the first time all season they started a drive on the far side of the 50. And it took little time for them to cash in, as Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott combined to move the ball both on the ground and through some short passes to the 20. A neat little toss to Tavon Austin from the 20 saw him dance right into the end zone for the 7-0 lead.
If a quick score off a turnover is good, then how about two in a row? The Cowboys did just that when DeMarcus Lawrence stripped the ball from Carson Wentz for Antwaun Woods to recover even closer to paydirt, this time at the 16. It just took back to back carries for Elliott to push the lead to 14-0. That was really all it would take. The Eagles, after all, would only score 10 all night.
And there was still over 51 minutes to play when the Cowboys got all the lead they needed.
It is hard to overcome a lot of turnovers when the other team is holding onto the ball, and that alone was probably enough to doom the fellows from Philly. There was a third fumble lost by the Eagles in the fourth quarter, where the snap just bounced off of Wentz’s chest. Xavier Woods would add an interception in the fourth quarter, which was kinda nullified two plays later by Prescott throwing one of his own in the end zone. But by that time the Cowboys had built a 30-10 lead, and there was only 11:07 left to play in the game. What was interesting about the play was that Kellen Moore dialed up a kill shot. It may not have worked, but the aggression was just one of the positives to come out of the game.
Let’s start with the offense, where the Kellen Moore creativity we saw in the first three games of the season was back in full, motion, play action, and taking shots down the field. He used Prescott’s legs as well as his arm, including on the touchdown to push the lead to a truly insurmountable 37-10 with only 9:33 left after that third fumble.
In another throwback to those early wins, the running and passing games were also nicely in balance, as Prescott found his five favorite receivers, Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Michael Gallup, Elliott, and Jason Witten effectively, and dropped a one yard touchdown reception to Blake Jarwin that was as wide open a red zone catch as you will ever see. Meanwhile, Elliott was used effectively. There were still a lot of first down carries, but many of them were for eight or more yards. It was only logical that the Cowboys go more to the ground game late after they had built up the big lead. It got him over 100 yards again, and the team was close to 200 rushing by the end of the affair.
The offense also did a remarkable job of overcoming some flags, mostly through some of the better throws by Prescott. Cooper was the big target, amassing 106 yards on only five catches.
The defense was mostly superb. They had three and outs when they needed them, and of course had the big takeaways. What was remarkable was that they had both their best linebacker, Leighton Vander Esch, and the most productive pass rusher, Robert Quinn, go out with injury in the first half. But Kerry Hyder filled in admirably for Quinn, and Joe Thomas kept LVE from being missed much at all. Sean Lee also helped take up the slack, helping shut down the Eagles on a desperation drive in the fourth.
It was a case of almost all the issues that the Cowboys have struggled with getting fixed. They got off to a blazing fast start. They were taking the ball away a lot. They converted third downs. They got a perfect night from Brett Maher, including a 63 yard field goal to close out the first half.
But perhaps the biggest thing to get fixed was one they were having issues with even during the three game win streak to start the season, and that was field position. Thanks to those takeaways, and generally good special teams work, the Cowboys had the best average starting position of the season for a game, and it was not even close.
There was only one thing that really could have been improved a lot, and that was the penalties. The only touchdown drive that the Eagles could mount all game was kept alive not once but twice by flags. The Eagles returned the favor at times, but the Cowboys still drew too much laundry, and it certainly included some offensive infractions as well.
Fortunately, the Cowboys were just too good on this night.