Leave it to the Dallas Cowboys to take us on an emotional rollercoaster. Fans went back and forth between jubilation and disappointment, but in the end, it was nothing but sadness as the Cowboys couldn’t close the deal and came up short in South Philly, 23-28. It was a crazy one that left no shortage of excitement. Here are 10 thoughts on this almost epic-comeback turned disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
1. ANSWER RIGHT BACK
After the Cowboys offense went three-and-out on the very first possession of the game, the Eagles marched 77 yards on 13 plays to start the game off with a 7-0 lead. That is not the start we were hoping for, but the Cowboys' offense answered back in a big way. Not only did they put together an eight-play, 53-yard touchdown drive of their own, but the defense held Philly to a three-and-out, and the Cowboys offense struck again on a nine-play, 82-yard drive to go up 14-7.
2. OUT OF A HOLE
One of the most frustrating things about the Eagles' first touchdown drive is that it should’ve stalled out. The Cowboys’ defense had them at 2nd-and-23 after Sam Williams sacked Jalen Hurts, but then Philly proceeded to make plays of 8, 12, and 12 yards to set up 1st-and-10 at the 12-yard line. Running back Kenneth Gainwell scored on the very next play.
The Cowboys had their own rendition of that scenario in the second quarter when they faced a 2nd-and-21 after Dak Prescott was sacked by Hassan Reddick. The offense got out of trouble thanks to a 20-yard completion to CeeDee Lamb setting up 1st-and-10 at the Philly 18-yard line. The Cowboys found the end zone four plays later.
3. EARLY FOURTH DOWN DOMINANCE
Between these two teams, they completed the first five fourth downs that were attempted. Philly got their first two on the first drive of the game with a brotherly shove play as well as a 15-yard completion to Dallas Goedert. The Cowboys started 3/3 with a deep pass to Lamb, an 11-yard completion over the middle to Jake Ferguson, and then on a QB-keeper from Prescott that barely made it (Philly challenged the spot, put the play stood). Both teams used fourth down to their advantage, but unfortunately, that success didn’t continue for the Cowboys, which brings us to...
4. JUST SHORT
The statement “this is a game of inches” was never more on display than on Sunday when the Cowboys came up just short not once, but twice at critical points of the game. First, tight end Luke Schoonmaker was ruled down just a few inches of the goal line on a fourth-down play. Initially, it was ruled a touchdown, but the replay showed that his knee came down before the ball crossed the plane. Then, on the next drive when the Cowboys finally did score a touchdown, the two-point conversion attempt (initially ruled successful) was reversed as Prescott stepped out of bounds before the ball crossed the goal line. Had either of these situations gone the other way, the Cowboys offense wouldn’t have been in such a precarious situation at the end. And that’s because...
5. THE DEFENSE GAVE THEM CHANCES
After the Eagles' final score of the game, things didn’t look good. They went up 28-17 with just over a minute left to play in the third quarter. The way the game was going, it just seemed like an insurmountable mountain for the offense to climb. And after they came up short at the goal line on the fourth-down Schoonmaker play, it looked like that’s all she wrote. It wasn’t though. That’s because the defense proceeded to get the Eagles offense off the field on three-straight three-and-out where they never got more than seven yards. They never even had an opportunity to do their patented full-proof QB sneak. It was a great stand from the Cowboys' defense and it gave them chance after chance to win the game.
6. THE EAGLES DEFENSE GAVE THEM CHANCES
It looked bleak when the Cowboys offense started at their own 14-yard line with just 46 seconds left in the game and no timeouts. Surprisingly, they were able to fly down the field in no time thanks to a couple of Philadelphia miscues. On the first play of the drive, Prescott went deep to Michael Gallup and was helped out by a pass interference call on Eagles corner James Bradberry. On the very next play, Prescott found Ferguson open for 10 yards, but Reddick got called for a roughing the passer penalty when he hit Dak late. In no time, the Cowboys had 1st-and-5 at the Eagles six-yard-line with 27 seconds left in the game. You could almost taste the comeback. It was right there!
7. A COMPLETE MELTDOWN
With the game there for the taking, the Cowboys decided to fall victim to their own demise. First, Tyler Smith was flagged for a false start. Instead of six yards to go, they then had 11. Fine. No problem. But then, the offense proceeded to do the one thing they could absolutely ill afford to do (aside from a turnover). Dak took a sack. In an instant, their chances of winning went from fantastic to slim. Making matters worse is that Prescott attempted to run a rushed play as the clock continued to run rather than spiking it and getting two shots at the end zone. And another mental lapse in the form of a delay of game penalty and the Cowboys had one play to get 27 yards. They didn’t.
8. SUCH A CONTRAST OF EMOTIONS
The last quarter was extremely stressful, but the last minute of the game was outright chaos. To go from almost no chance of winning, to a near-savage comeback, to then utter disaster was something no fan deserves to go through. To think they were this close to overcoming all those earlier failures and coming away with a road win over the Eagles only to have that that happiness snatched from their hands hit a new level of disappointment. Add the swing in the standings to the mix, and this almost-win is a tough pill to swallow.
9. CAN’T GET THE EASY STUFF
The box score will tell that the Cowboys had slightly better efficiency (3.5 yards per carry compared to 3.3 for Philly), but we can’t help but notice how one-dimensional this Cowboys’ offense is. When the Eagles needed the short yards, they could lean on their running game. When the Cowboys needed short yards, they had to finesse some passing play. Prescott finished the game with 374 and three touchdowns and played extremely well in this one, but having to throw the ball 44 times (compared to Hurts' 23 passing attempts) is not a recipe for success. The Cowboys' inability to pose a threat in the running game continues to hinder them.
10. LAMB WAS SENSATIONAL
Last week, Lamb had a career-high 158 yards against the Rams. Now, he has a new career high as he reeled off 11 catches for 198 yards against the Eagles. It’s disappointing that it came in a losing effort, but at least the Cowboys continue to lean on their most talented offensive weapon. Never stop doing that.