The long-awaited matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles is now over. While this game didn’t possess the same divisional implications it once had, nor did it provide the Dak vs. Hurts marquee matchup we all wanted, the game still had a lot to offer. In the end, it was a shootout and the Dallas Cowboys emerged victorious. Here are 10 thoughts on the Cowboys' big 40-34 Saturday win over their divisional foes.
1. Not the best start
Watching the Eagles complete a 48-yard pass on the third play from scrimmage wasn’t a great way to kick the game off. Fortunately, the Cowboys’ defense clamped down and held Philly to a field goal. The Cowboys' offense was able to get a couple of first downs on their first possession of the game, but things turned bad when Dak Prescott misjudged the length of Eagles’ edge rusher Josh Sweat who was able to snatch the ball on a bootleg pass to Dalton Schultz. Sweat stiff-armed Dak and scampered 42 yards for the touchdown. In the blink of an eye, it was 10-0 Eagles.
2. Right back atcha
This Cowboys team is well-versed in overcoming adversity. In their previous two games, the offense put together a fourth-quarter come-from-behind drive to take the lead late in the game. Playing from behind doesn’t faze them.
After getting behind 10-0, the Cowboys' offense went 75 yards on 14 plays and capped it off with an Ezekiel Elliott touchdown. Then, after an incredible interception by safety Jayron Kearse, the Cowboys struck again with a six-play, 47-yard drive finished off with a CeeDee Lamb twirling touchdown. Prescott was a perfect 9 for 9 in those two drives.
3. Offense saving it for the money down
The Cowboys' offense was terrible at running the ball, but that didn’t stop them from trying. Between Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, the Dallas running backs had 25 rushes for 74 yards. That’s less than three yards per carry. Despite unfavorable first down runs, they kept at it. This put the Cowboys in third-down situations all day. Luckily, the Cowboys were good on third down as they finished 8/15 on the money down, allowing them to keep the drives going and ultimately put up 40 points on a very good Eagles defense.
4. Defense a no-show on the money down
As good as the Cowboys' offense was on third down in this game, their defense was equally bad. Several times the defense would make nice plays on first and second down, only to yield a first on third down. Philadelphia finished the game by converting 8/14 on third down. Every time we thought the Cowboys' defense was about to get off the field, they couldn’t. The Eagles' punter never saw the field on this day.
5. Tyler saves the day!
After the Eagles went up 34-27 midway through the fourth quarter, the Cowboys started their comeback drive with a nice 24-yard completion to Jake Ferguson. Unfortunately, Prescott was sacked on back-to-back plays. On the first sack, Prescott was stripped of the ball and it appeared as if the Eagles jumped on it, but Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz ripped the ball away at the last second. The referee initially signaled Philly ball as the Eagles' defensive lineman fell right on it, but Biadasz’s quick hands gave the Cowboys new life.
6. T.Y. already paying off
With that new life, the Cowboys' offense faced a 3rd-and-30 at their own 29-yard line. The Cowboys wisely took a shot downfield as Prescott threw the ball deep to recent free agent signing T.Y. Hilton and sure enough the veteran receiver hauled down a 52-yard pass. Just like that, the Cowboys were inside the red zone and scored on another CeeDee Lamb touchdown catch three plays later. The Cowboys signed Hilton for this very reason and he’s already paying off.
7. Driscoll can’t save the day
After the Cowboys went ahead 37-34, it was the Eagles' turn to mount a comeback, but that ended quickly when running back Miles Sanders had the ball stripped by Cowboys defensive tackle Carlos Watkins on their first play of the drive. Eagles lineman Jack Driscoll (who replaced the injured Lane Johnson) jumped right on top of the ball, but it still slipped away from him allowing Anthony Barr to recover the fumble.
The difference in this game could easily be the fact that our offensive lineman came away with the fumble recovery and theirs didn't. Tyler Biadasz, you are a hero! pic.twitter.com/nh0l9SXUii— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) December 25, 2022
8. Winning the turnover battle
The Eagles won the first contest thanks to a +3 turnover margin. It was the one game that Cooper Rush wasn’t sharp for the Cowboys and his three interceptions doomed the team. This time around, it was the Cowboys who won the turnover battle by that same +3 margin. Twice Gardner Minshew threw picks when the Cowboys' defensive back stole the ball from the receiver, and twice the Eagles running backs coughed up the ball in the backfield.
9. Dak’s clock management was all backward
The Cowboys just came off a game where their inability to run out the clock ultimately ended up costing them. That is why it was puzzling to see Prescott make some odd decisions late in the game while trying to manage the clock. First, he ran out of bounds after rushing for 16 yards, stopping the clock right before the two-minute warning. This gave the Eagles a free clock stoppage. On the very next play, Prescott took a nine-yard sack in an attempt to keep the clock running, but the two-minute warning stopped the clock. The Cowboys had to settle for a field goal and as a result, the Eagles still had one timeout and 1:41 to try to win the game. It’s moot now, but this isn’t how a veteran quarterback should be managing the clock.
10. Dak’s a playmaker
Prescott is one of the most heavily debated players in the league. Even the national media can’t determine if he’s great or if he’s terrible as the opinions are all over the place. One thing we should all agree on is, the guy is a playmaker. Whether he throws a pick-six, completes a pass while he should’ve been in the grasp, or delivers one come-from-behind touchdown drive after another, Prescott continues to bring excitement to Dallas. Hats off to him. He was constantly under pressure and was sacked six times. Despite all the adversity in this game, he still had the resilience to complete 27 of 35 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns. That’s pretty good. We are lucky to have him.