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Cowboys lose a heart-breaker to the Eagles, 28-23, fall further behind in NFC East

The Dallas Cowboys lost in Philadelphia and that stinks a lot.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Dak’s legs were a big factor in this game.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It was the biggest game of the day as the Dallas Cowboys visited the Philadelphia Eagles with a ton of playoff implications on the line. It was also only the second time that Dak Prescott and Jalen Hurts were both playing in a contest between the two teams. The teams would prove to be closely matched as Dallas would have a three-point lead at halftime before Philadelphia built an eleven-point lead in the third quarter. Late game heroics would make it a one-score affair late in the game, but the Eagles defense would snuff out the final drive to get the win and Dallas would fall 28 to 23. They now trail in the NFC East by two and a half games, and may have to get into the playoffs via the wild card route.

Before the game, there was good news for the Cowboys as Tyron Smith was able to start and Chuma Edoga was also active as his backup. However, after receiving the opening kickoff, they started with a three and out, with two unsuccessful runs from Tony Pollard before Prescott threw high on third down. That put immediate pressure on the defense. They managed to force the Eagles into a fourth and one after a favorable spot from the refs, and the infamous Tush Push got a first down at their 34. That started a drive that got Philadelphia into Dallas territory as Hurts began to heat up to A.J. Brown. But Sam Williams, who starred on special teams last week, forced a fumble that Hurts was able to fall on to keep possession. That would set up a fourth and three at the Dallas 27, and Dallas Goedert would convert at the 12-yard line. Then Kenneth Gainwell would get into the end zone, and the Cowboys were down seven early. The ability of the Eagles to convert fourth and short from almost any place on the field was already a problem.

The ensuing kickoff was short, and Kavontae Turpin got them great field position with a return out to the Dallas 47. Prescott would get them their initial first down of the game with three consecutive scrambles. He completed his first pass to Jake Ferguson to set up a third and one, but heavy pressure would force an incompletion. With the ball at the Philadelphia 33, they also went for it and found a wide open CeeDee Lamb to set up first and goal at the 4. Ferguson would score on the next play, and things were tied up with 1:37 left in the first quarter.

Another sack of Hurts would lead to a three and out, but Turpin would leave the field with an apparent shoulder injury, plus a penalty on the punt return would back the Cowboys up to their own 18. On a scramble, Prescott would find Ferguson again and get 40 yards. They would overcome a ten-yard sack to convert a third and 14 on a 20-yard catch by Lamb to set them up in the red zone at the Philly 18. It was another scramble drill as Prescott’s ability to evade the pass rush continued to save the day. After a pass interference call got the ball to the 8-yard line, the Cowboys would wind up with a third and goal from the 5. But Turpin had come out of the blue tent to return to the lineup, and he would haul the ball in at the goal line to give Dallas the lead. It did see the first near miss of the season for Brandon Aubrey as he doinked it through off the upright.

But Aubrey also put the ball out of bounds on the ensuing kickoff, which was disturbingly out of character for him. With good field position, Philadelphia would quickly get to the Dallas 20, then the 10 with goal to go. But then the ball would get knocked loose. It looked like Markquese Bell would scoop it and set the Dallas up with good field position, but the refs ruled it was actually recovered by the Eagles and then pulled loose after the play was dead. That was the second time the Eagles got away with being loose with the ball. That led them to a second and goal at the 10. A defensive hold on Jayron Kearse made it first and goal from the 4. They got to third down at the 1, and the inevitable Tush Push struck again to tie the game.

A second down sack would lead to a fourth and two at the Dallas 49, and Ferguson would continue his good start with an eleven-yard catch just before the two minute warning of the first half. Michael Gallup would drop a pass that would have extended the drive, and Aubrey came out to try a 51-yard filed goal, and there was no sign of his earlier yips as he gave Dallas a three point lead while setting the all time record for made field goals to start a career.

The Eagles, though, still had all their timeouts and 1:15 left on the clock. With the help of a false start on Jason Kelce, they managed to keep them from scoring. But Hurts came up limping when DeMarcus Lawrence hit his knee before Micah Parsons sacked him to kill the drive. He managed to stay in the game after that, but it was something that would bear watching in the second half.

The Cowboys immediately gave Philadelphia a gift with a facemask penalty on the kickoff after intermission. Hurts would look alright as he would run for a first down. Then he would throw a perfectly placed ball to DeVonta Smith for a touchdown to regain the lead for his team at 21-17.

The early down runs started working as Pollard had runs of 15 and 5 yards to start the series. Jalen Tolbert caught a pass to get into Eagles territory before a holding call on Luke Schoonmaker wiped out a nice gain by Rico Dowdle. That would lead to a punt that was fair caught at the 13. Philadelphia would once more march down the field, aided by multiple flags, and would score from the four, putting the Cowboys in a 28-17 hole. Goedert would leave for the locker room on the series, but being down by multiple scores did not bode well for Dallas.

The Cowboys responded with a march of their own, but wound up with a fourth and less than one inside the fifteen. Prescott would barely make it, and after the play an unnecessary roughness penalty put the ball at the 7. It would come down to a fourth and goal from the 2. Prescott would find Schoonmaker right on the goal line, but his knee was down before the ball crossed into the end zone. It was Philadelphia’s ball inside the 1. There were still over nine minutes left in the game, but Dallas had to stop the Eagles and score two touchdowns to get a victory.

The defense delivered a three and out and forced a punt from the end zone. The punt was short and rolled dead at the Cowboys’ 48. Jalen Tolbert came up big with a 32-yard catch, then after a Pollard touchdown was wiped out by an illegal formation penalty, Prescott found Tolbert again for a seven yard score on another scramble drill. Mike McCarthy elected to go for two and Prescott just stepped out of bounds before the ball crossed the goal line. It was now a five point game with over six minutes left.

The Cowboys were down by five and needed a stop from the defense and then had to score a touchdown to win it, with the margin five points. The Eagles tried to take a deep shot on third and three, and had to punt it with the distance just a little too far for them to perform their Tush Push deep in their own end.

Dallas had the ball at their own 26 with 4:43 left. It was all fourth down territory from here. CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, and Jake Ferguson all contributed first downs before Prescott was sacked twice to create a third and 21. A completion to Lamb made it fourth and eight, but a pass to Jalen Tolbert sailed high. The Cowboys got one last gasp after using their three timeouts to get the ball back at their own 14 with just 46 seconds left, and could not come up with the heroics to get into the end zone. A pass interference forced by Michael Gallup gave them the ball at the 50, then a roughing the passer moved it to the 25. Lamb caught one at the 11, and neither team had a timeout, so the Eagles were scrambling on defense. Penalties on each team just added to the agony while putting the ball back at the 11, then a sack and an incompletion left them at the 22 with just five ticks on the clock. A delay of game moved them five yards back, and the final pass from Prescott was caught by Lamb just short of the end zone and it was over.

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