There’s no getting around it. The Dallas Cowboys losing to the Philadelphia Eagles the way they did is disappointing. The Eagles’ mismanagement and erosion in football discipline opened the door for the Cowboys to steal a win on the road from the Eagles before their own issues slammed the door shut. The Cowboys had the opportunity to close the gap between them and the Eagles in the race for the NFC East title, and to not take advantage of that stings. It’s sadly fitting that the Cowboys’ issues in the red zone reappearing at the most critical time are what upended what could’ve been a dramatic win.
That said, it was encouraging how some of their players performed despite the loss. Here are your stars for Sunday’s game against the Eagles.
Honorable mention: Micah Parsons
Despite the officiating standing in his way better than the opposing offensive line could, Micah Parsons still managed to impact the game. Like Prescott, Parsons was willing to do whatever he needed to try to get the win. As usual, he rushed the passer from a multitude of different places but he also contributed in a way that was unexpected.
Some may have missed it, but Parsons played on the special teams unit late in the game and came very close to blocking a punt. He also came close to recovering a fumble after A.J. Brown and D’Andre Swift collided in the Eagles’ backfield. Additionally, Parsons had several effective pass rushes and was able to get to Eagle’s quarterback Jalen Hurts, taking him down for 1.5 sacks.
It’s a shame that Prescott’s performance will get undermined by a few select moments because otherwise, Prescott was terrific in what the team asked of him. Regrettably, the Cowboys’ running game could not find consistent production, which thrust the game on Prescott’s shoulders. Time after time, Prescott made big plays to move the chains, did his best to keep his team in the game, and left nothing out there on the field.
A great example was Prescott trying to scramble from the pocket on a third and goal early in the fourth quarter and diving for the end zone before getting flipped into the air and on his back. Prescott was tasked with picking up numerous third downs in obvious passing situations on third and long, and he managed to find his receivers for critical conversions.
Despite being under siege for most of the night, Prescott was accurate, decisive, and maintained his composure. His footwork from the pocket was consistent, and his mobility bought time for his receivers for big plays. Forget what debate shows are going to say on say or what Monday morning quarterbacks think of Prescott. Yes, there are a few plays Prescott would like to have back.
That said, Prescott was outstanding, and the resilience Prescott and the team displayed by almost pulling off an improbable comeback is worthy of praise. When asked about today’s game, Prescott believes his team will be okay following the loss. He’s right. Facing the Eagles and almost winning when the Cowboys played at less than their optimal level shows the Cowboys can be better and, without Prescott, would be a lot worse.
Against Philadelphia, the Cowboys’ offensive line had a difficult time in pass protection. Namely, right tackle Terence Steele had considerable trouble handling the Eagles’ pass rush and had quarterback Dak Prescott under substantial pressure. Conversely, left tackle Tyron Smith fared exceptionally well Sunday. After missing last week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys couldn’t wait to have Smith back in the lineup, and his return was welcome.
Though the situation with Smith is complicated, given his unpredictability in staying healthy, when he is healthy, he’s capable of playing the types of games he did on Sunday. When isolated in pass protection, Smith won several snaps and was able to buy time for Dak Prescott to extend plays. Smith often would dominate a pass-blocking assignment and provide Prescott with a clean pocket to scan the field and find targets in the Eagles’ secondary. This loss to their hated rival is going to be hard to stomach. However, if Smith turns the clock back with games such as this and stays healthy, it exponentially improves the potential of the Cowboys’ passing game. Welcome back, Mr. Smith.
Lamb has been on a tear lately, and his season seemingly reached a turning point when the fourth-year wideout spoke out about his role in the offense. Since then, the message has been received loud and clear, and Lamb has propelled the Cowboys’ offense. Over the three games, Lamb is averaging 155 receiving yards per game, and his dominance continued against the Eagles. Lamb was targeted 16 times, catching 11 passes and setting a career-high of 191 receiving yards. Lamb once again demonstrated that he is a dynamic receiver who can win against any coverage.
During the game, Lamb played outside the numbers, in the slot, and even in the backfield, finding success against the Philadelphia secondary. The Cowboys’ offense, for all intents and purposes, is CeeDee Lamb, and it’s no coincidence that the offense has found life since Lamb asked for more involvement. Undrafted rookie Eli Ricks had the misfortune of being assigned guarding Lamb in single coverage some of the game, and Lamb put on a masterclass in route running and separation. For the Cowboys offense to be successful, Lamb has to remain as the centerpiece of the passing attack.
Jake Ferguson has begun to emerge as a more prominent weapon on a weekly basis. Ferguson’s developing connection with Dak Prescott has added another element to the intermediate level of the passing attack, and Ferguson is rewarding Prescott’s faith in spades. On Sunday, he proved himself to be a mismatch for the Eagles as he made several catches against linebackers and safeties whom he separated from easily. Ferguson also surpassed a career-high, recording 91 yards on seven receptions.
His longest play was a 40-yard catch and run on a broken play from Dak Prescott. Ferguson’s sure hands and elusiveness after the catch are integral to the Cowboys from now on. Ferguson’s score and uptick in targets with Prescott are signs of progress moving forward.