With the Cowboys’ tremendous win over the Eagles in Week 14, Mike McCarthy just won his 40th regular season game since becoming Dallas’ head coach in 2020. You’ll have to forgive any hyperbole as we’re all still basking in the glow, but this victory over Philadelphia may very well be the biggest so far of McCarthy’s run.
No, this win didn’t come in the playoffs. It didn’t even clinch the NFC East; the Eagles are still the betting favorite to do that based on their schedule compared to Dallas’ over the next four weeks. But the way the Cowboys handled their business on Sunday night, with a significant monkey on their back regarding expectations and perceptions, said more than arguably any other win they’ve had over the last four seasons.
- Dominate a supposed NFC elite... check!
- Hold an alleged MVP candidate to Zach Wilson numbers... check!
- Have your own QB shine in a high-stakes game... check!
- Stop the run... check!
- Take advantage of extra rest and home field... check!
Last year’s playoff victory over Tampa Bay didn’t check all these boxes. The Buccaneers were a losing team; an 8-9 division winner who only made the tournament on a technicality. While we thoroughly enjoyed the spanking that Dallas put on them, especially ending Tom Brady’s career on a low note, the two playoff losses to San Francisco in 2021 and 2022 dampened our joy.
Another loss to the 49ers in Week 5 of this season, this one a 42-10 beatdown, led to some logical worries about where Dallas truly stood among their NFC peers. Taking Philadelphia to the wire in Week 9 was somewhat encouraging, but ultimately just another time that McCarthy’s Cowboys failed one of their biggest tests.
Dallas certainly benefited from extra rest, coming off a Thursday night game in Week 13 while the Eagles played on a Sunday. They also had home field going for them. But there have been too many times in the past when the Cowboys, under various coaches, didn’t capitalize on these advantages and made the disappointment all the more bitter.
What we’re seeing now from Mike McCarthy is something that finally, truly, separates him from previous regimes. While the consecutive 12-win seasons from 2021-2022 were a good trivia fact, they didn’t really say much about McCarthy’s value versus Jason Garrett. Garrett had 12 and 13-win seasons in 2014 and 2016, separated by a Tony Romo injury year. He won division titles and playoff games. Asserting that McCarthy had surpassed him based on the last two years was a stretch, especially with the similar results in the postseason.
But now it’s a third-straight year with Dallas among the NFC elite. They’ve just hit 10 wins and have a great shot at at least 12 again this season. And while what happens in the playoffs will still be a huge factor in evaluating McCarthy’s performance, he's got the franchise and Dak Prescott humming right now in a way we haven’t seen in some time.
Sure, we’re still nervous about what’s to come. The Eagles are entitled to a bad stretch of games, just like the 49ers had earlier this year. We may have just caught them at the right time. And even if Dallas had all the answers for this opponent, we’re still not sure what to expect if they’re forced to get through San Francisco again in January.
Future challenges aside, though, this win has gone a long way to boosting confidence for what lies ahead. Jalen Hurts didn’t miss this one and the Eagles needed it just as badly as Dallas did. The typical Philly excuses don’t apply; it was just a pure, simple beatdown courtesy of the McCarthy-era Cowboys. With Kellen Moore now gone and McCarthy’s grip even firmer around the team, he’s seemingly built a stronger foundation for success.
Enjoy this one, Cowboys fans. This was a grand victory; arguably the biggest so far of Mike McCarthy’s career in Dallas. And hopefully, some others are coming in January and February that we’ll enjoy even more.