The Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday to remain alive in the NFC East. It was a game that made us a little nervous at first, but then consisted of the best stretch of Cowboys football we’ve seen all season. You might say this team is on a little bit of a roll as they’ve now won three straight games. Not only that, but the once hyped Jalen Hurts Eagles resurgence has had a few hiccups, and the Eagles are now officially eliminated from playoff contention.
There were a lot of great things going on in this game that hopefully the team can carry over into next week in their finale. But for now, here are ten thoughts on the Cowboys big win against the Eagles.
1. We meet again, old friend
In the offseason of 2019, the Eagles gave DeSean Jackson a three-year, $27.9 million deal. That’s a pricy tag for a 33-year old receiver who had missed action in each of his previous five seasons. And his bad health reared it’s head in the worst way as he missed 13 games last year, and 10 games so far this year.
Well, DJax made his return on Sunday, and he wasted no time reminding us of his big-play ability. On the first play of the Eagles second possession, Jalen Hurts launched a deep pass to the speedy Jackson for an 81-yard touchdown. In true DJax fashion, he took his own sweet time meandering into the end zone to savor the moment.
The Eagles went up 14-3 after that touchdown as it looked as if Philadelphia’s offense was going to have its way with Dallas. Fortunately, it didn’t go down that way, and subsequently DJax was never heard from again.
2. Questionable play calls
The Cowboys offense got rolling, but it was hard not to feel a little short changed when some golden touchdown opportunities were squandered. Three times the offense moved the ball inside the Eagles 10-yard line, and all three times they couldn’t punch it and had to settle for a Greg Zuerlein field goal. A couple of those instances, it just seemed like the Cowboys could have powered it through with a run, but they kept choosing to pass the ball in those situations. It’s all moot now, but you couldn’t help feel that these failed red zone opportunities were going to come back and haunt them.
3. Zeke got in
When Michael Gallup scampered off for 55 yards, it looked like the Cowboys were on the verge of taking the lead as they had first-and-goal inside the Eagles ten-yard line. Ezekiel Elliott followed with a couple powerful runs, and in real time it looked as if the ball had crossed the goal line on Zeke’s second run. The broadcast didn’t give us a second look at it, but the Cowboys coaches had one, and why they didn’t choose to challenge it is beyond me, because after further review - that’s a touchdown.
Maybe they didn’t think the officials could piece together a definitive view, or maybe they felt it was so close that they didn’t want to waste a challenge on it, however, rather than just QB-sneaking it, they tried a bootleg that went for a loss. That was frustrating.
4. Offensive explosion
While the Cowboys as a team has scored 30+ points in their previous two games, it hasn’t come in the form of big offensive performances. The Cowboys offense hadn’t eclipsed 300 yards in three of their previous five games, including both those recent 30+ performances. While we’ll gladly take those points in whatever form they come in, it still wasn’t an overwhelming endorsement of the offense.
This game was a whole other story. The Cowboys put up 513 yards of offense, which is the most yards they’ve churned out since Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks. Andy Dalton put up 377 yards passing. That’s fourth-highest total for the Cowboys this year, trailing Dak Prescott’s three 400+ performances he had at the beginning of the year.
5. Attacking Jacquet
Credit the Cowboys coaching staff for attacking Eagles rookie cornerback Michael Jacquet. It was a really good strategy that proved effective as the young corner kept giving up big play after big play.
If you've lost track of how many times Michael Gallup has schooled Eagles corner Micheal Jacquet, don't fret. He's kindly keeping track for us on the back of his jersey. pic.twitter.com/QLrlBjeg9M— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) December 27, 2020
At first it was Michael Gallup who was benefiting from this matchup, but then they tried to move him around as if the Cowboys would suddenly lose sights of his whereabouts. Well, they didn’t.
6. Three big play receivers
It was so enjoyable to see all three of the Cowboys star receivers get in on the action. Michael Gallup was the star of the day as he had a game-high six catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Amari Cooper also had 121 yards receiving, and with that he has now eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in five of his six years in the league. That’s pretty darn good. And while the rookie CeeDee Lamb didn’t reach 100 yards on the day, he did score two touchdowns, one on a 52-yard catch, and another on a 19-yard jet sweep.
All three of these wide receivers had plays of 50 yards or more, as Dalton just kept using all the weapons at his disposal to shred the Eagles secondary.
7. The run
Things did not start out well for the Cowboys as the Eagles offense moved the ball at will against their defense. Their first possession went 75 yards on 11 plays as Jalen Hurts seemed to have forever to throw the ball, and when he took off running, he was getting first downs. The second drive was that huge strike to Jackson, and in the blink of an eye, the Cowboys were trailing 14-3.
But then, the wormed suddenly turned and the Cowboys proceeded to score 34 of the next 37 points. The Dallas offense scored on five straight possessions, while the Eagles offense could only muster three points for the remainder of the game. The fear of an Eagles comeback was always there, but the defense just wouldn’t allow it.
8. Way to go, 94
This was hands down the best game we’ve seen from edge rusher Randy Gregory. The guy was all over the place. It may have gone unnoticed because only one of them resulted in an actual turnover, but he had three forced fumbles in this game.
Late in the second quarter, Gregory tackled Miles Sanders for a four-yard loss, causing the ball to come loose and roll out of bounds. Then, there was the sack he had on Hurts that resulted in an eight-yard loss. But he wasn’t done there. Gregory again came through with a strip on Hurts as the Eagles quarterback scrambled up the middle. It was believed that maybe Hurts was down before the ball came loose, but replay couldn’t confirm that.
Gregory also knocked down a pass on a 2nd-and-18 play that ultimately ended with a turnover on downs two plays later. Gregory was a beast in this game.
9. The turnovers keep a coming
It’s like a switch has suddenly been flipped to where this defense, who for most of the season was incapable of creating turnovers, are now getting them in bunches. For the third straight game, the Cowboys had at least three takeaways. Why is this suddenly happening?
You can definitely see more tenacity from this group as they are flying and swatting every opportunity they get. Another factor could be that the offense’s ability to get leads is just creating more chances. Forcing teams to play catchup means they’re dropping back to pass more, opening up the door for more potential takeaways. Whatever the catalyst, this is such a great thing to see.
10. Division up for grabs
Ten days ago, things looked bleak for the Cowboys when it came to their chances of sneaking into the playoffs via winning the NFC East. They needed oodles and oodles of help, starting with someone finally beating a Washington team that was coming off of four straight wins.
Fast forward to today and Washington has lost two straight, while the Cowboys keep winning. And just like that, the door has cracked open. Dallas still needs help as Washington just needs to win next week to get in. There best chance came on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, but they couldn’t get it done. Now, they’ll have to go against the Jalen Hurts-led Eagles team.
Should Washington fail again next week, the NFC East title will come down to the winner of the Cowboys (won three straight)/Giants (lost three straight) game.