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Eagles vs. Cowboys: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Highlights and lowlights from Philadelphia’s Week 9 win.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles can thank the right foot of Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott and the left knee of their tight end Luke Schoonmaker for being 8-1 and maintaining the best record in the NFL as they head into their bye week.

The Eagles squirmed to a 28-23 victory over the visiting Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, helped by Prescott’s right foot on his failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, which would have put the Cowboys within a field goal of tying the Eagles. And Schoonmaker’s left knee, when with 10:07 to play, had a touchdown overturned when the replay showed Schoonmaker’s left knee hit the turf before the ball crossed the goal line.

The Eagles are now riding a seven-game home winning streak and own a 2½ -game lead over the 5-3 Cowboys.

Jalen Hurts completed 17 of 23 for 207 yards and two touchdowns, and the defense sacked Prescott five times for 41 yards, though the Cowboys’ veteran stung them for 374 yards passing, completing 29 of 44 and three touchdowns. CeeDee Lamb torched the Eagles for 11 receptions on 16 targets for 191 yards receiving—though, the Eagles kept him out of the end zone.

“We found a way to win tonight and that’s all that matters,” Hurts said. “For this team and this city, I’ll do anything to win. I’m happy we came out with a win, because that’s all that matters, but we need to continue cleaning things up and grow into the team we know we can be.”

The Eagles became the first NFL team to win eight of their first nine games in two consecutive seasons since the 2005-06 Indianapolis Colts.

There was an equal amount of good, bad and ugly in the Eagles’ 28-23 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

The Good

Defensive end Josh Sweat’s 11-yard sack of Dak Prescott with :21 left on a first-and-10 at the Eagles’ 22. It was the only good thing defensively the Eagles could glean in the last minute and sent the Cowboys into heavy dysfunction mode trying to reset the offense with no timeouts and everyone scrambling to get back to the line of scrimmage. The Eagles then held on as Prescott found CeeDee Lamb short of the end zone on the last play of the game.

Rookie right guard Tyler Steen’s fumble recovery at the Eagles’ 31 with :59 to play. D’Andre Swift was jolted by A.J. Brown’s left shoulder as he was running across Swift. The shot knocked Swift down, and the ball out of his hands. Steen wrestled it back fortunately for the Eagles.

Cornerback James Bradberry coming up to slam on the breaks of a Cowboy comeback by defending a fourth-and-eight at the Eagles’ 29 with 1:17 to play. Prescott was looking at Jalen Tolbert on the sideline and Bradberry was there to defend the pass. Why Prescott did not look at go-to receiver CeeDee Lamb, being covered by Darius Slay.

Defensive end Brandon Graham coming up with a seven-yard sack on Prescott, then combining with rookie tackle Jalen Carter for a four-yard sack on consecutive plays before the two-minute warning. It left the Cowboys in a precarious third-and-21 at the Eagles’ 42.

Linebacker Zach Cunningham and safety Kevin Byard combining to stop Tony Pollard for a three-yard loss doing a great job reading a screen with 8:36 to play and Dallas at its 48 on a first-and-10.

Safety Reed Blankenship’s stop at the goal line on tight end Luke Schoonmaker with 10:07 left to play. It was ruled a touchdown on the field, but the replay overturned it when it showed Schoonmaker’s left knee hit the turf before the ball crossed the goal line. It was perfect timing by Blankenship to hit the rookie tight end a split-second after the ball arrived. It preserved the Eagles’ two-score lead. The Cowboys wasted 13 plays, 71 yards, and most importantly, 6 minutes, 6 seconds of precious time while down two scores—and got nothing.

The Eagles’ third quarter offense. The Eagles turned a 17-14 deficit into a 28-17 lead, scoring on both possessions in the quarter. On 17 plays, the Eagles chewed up 147 yards that led to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith touchdowns. The Eagles controlled 9 minutes, 55 seconds of the quarter, preventing the Dallas offense from taking the field, while grinding down the Cowboys’ defense. Hurts completed six of seven in the quarter for 84 yards and two touchdowns—plus, he wasn’t sacked as he was three times in the first half.

Tight end Dallas Goedert’s 28-yard reception to the Cowboys’ 13 on the Eagles’ second drive of the second half. It came on a second-and-10 at the Dallas 41 when Goedert out ran Dallas linebacker Markquese Bell for a first down. Unfortunately, Goedert hurt his right forearm on the play and had to return to the locker room with 2:54 left in the third quarter.

Swift’s six-yard run in the Eagles’ second drive of the second half at the Eagles’ 37. It came on a second-and-three and the play could have been a disaster, with Hurts seemingly holding the ball too long, before giving it to Swift. The two were almost tackled together in the backfield for a loss, which would have stunted that drive, but Swift was able to break free and make something out of nothing.

Receiver DeVonta Smith’s 29-yard touchdown pass from Hurts, beating Dallas’ corner DaRon Bland in the corner of the end zone on the Eagles’ first drive of the second half. It was a great ball by Hurts, looping over Bland’s shoulders and right into Smith’s outstretched arms.

Hurts finding Smith across the middle for his first catch of the game on a third-and-nine at the Dallas 40 for a 19-yard reception. It came on the Eagles’ third drive and prolonged a series after the Eagles were trailing, 14-7.

Edge rusher Haason Reddick pressuring Prescott into a short incomplete pass on third-and-one at the Eagles’ 33 on the Cowboys’ second drive. It looked as if the Eagles would stop the Cowboys there, but they didn’t (see below in ugly). Reddick later did get to Prescott for an 11-yard sack on the Cowboys’ next drive.

Right tackle Lane Johnson and Steen’s blocks on Kenneth Gainwell’s 12-yard touchdown run on the Eagles’ opening drive. Johnson got out on Dorance Armstrong and steered him right, Steen took down Cowboys’ defensive tackle Neville Gallimore who went stumbling to the field too late to reach Gainwell.

The Eagles opening drive. They traveled 77 yards over 7 minutes, 51 seconds, on 13 plays. Some key moments came on Hurts converting a Brotherly Shove on fourth-and-one at the Philadelphia 32, when it looked like the delayed count seemed as if it was designed to draw Dallas offsides. Then there was the Hurts’ 12-yard completion to A.J. Brown on third-and-15 at the Dallas 39, which was followed by Hurts finding Dallas Goedert on fourth-and-three at the Cowboys’ 12. The series ended on a Kenneth Gainwell 12-yard touchdown run, punctuated by him flipping into the end zone. The Eagles were 2-for-2 on fourth down.

The Bad

Why is rookie defensive back Sydney Brown on CeeDee Lamb in straight man coverage with the game at stake and 4:19 left to play? The Cowboys cashed in, when Prescott hit Lamb for 21 yards at the Dallas 47.

Why is Hurts throwing on third-and-three with 4:52 left to play at the Eagles’ 32? Hurts’ pass to Brown fell incomplete and gave Dallas the ball back with 4:43 to play with a chance to take the lead.

Corner Eli Ricks getting flagged for illegal contact on a second-and-13 at the Dallas 45—right after the Eagles stuffed Tony Pollard for a three-yard loss with 8:05 left. It gave Dallas a fresh set of downs while its was desperate and down by two scores. The Cowboys eventually scored a touchdown to pull within 28-23 with 6:23 to play.

Nick Sirianni challenging the spot after the Cowboys’ converted a fourth-and-one at the Eagles’ 14, compounded by an unnecessary roughness call on Byard, moving the ball to the Eagles’ seven. The challenge was denied and the Eagles lost a crucial timeout.

Cunningham over pursuing CeeDee Lamb on a nine-yard reception on a second-and-10 at the Eagles’ 15. Cunningham can only reach out with his right hand and little of anything else.

Lamb’s 14-yard reception between Byard and corner Darius Slay on a third-and-15 on the Cowboys’ fourth drive of the game with 3:04 left in the half. It set up a fourth-and-two for the Cowboys, who converted.

The Ugly

The Eagles’ pass defense in the last :46. With no timeouts left, sitting at their 14, somehow the Cowboys managed to reach the Eagles’ six 19 seconds later. Three defensive penalties, the big one coming on James Bradberry’s 36-yard interference call on CeeDee Lamb, helped the Cowboys’ offense considerably. The Eagles were fortunate enough that Cowboys’ coach Mike McCarthy was on the opposite sideline and that Prescott, regardless of how strong he looked, tends to collapse in tense situations—as he proved again in the end.

Byard getting nailed for unnecessary roughness after Dallas converted a fourth-and-one at the Eagles’ 14 with 11:38 left to play. Byard arrived late and got caught pushing Cowboys’ tight end Jake Ferguson, who had been tormenting the Eagles, especially Byard at times. It led to the Cowboys resting at the Eagles’ seven. It also came after Ferguson had pulled Byard off the pile.

The Eagles’ offensive line in the first half. They gave up three sacks for minus-24 yards to the Cowboys.

The Eagles’ first half defense. They allowed Dallas to score on three of their first four drives to take a 17-14 lead into halftime. The Cowboys averaged 5.9 yards a play, converted a combined six of 10 on third and fourth downs, and were two-for-two on fourth-down conversions. Dallas was two-for-two in the red zone and Prescott completed 10 of 16 for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

Byard losing Ferguson on fourth-and-one at the Eagles’ 40. Ferguson had stung the Eagles for four catches on four targets for 62 yards and a touchdown in the first half.

Linebacker Nakobe Dean has seemed lost this season in open space, and this first-and-10 at the Eagles’ 18 was another example. Dean could not keep up with Ferguson and was nailed for a 10-yard interference call at Eagles’ 10 on the Cowboys’ third drive.

Ricks losing Lamb on a third-and-14 with 12:16 left in the half. Prescott scrambled right from the Eagles rush and found Lamb running across the middle for a first down at the Eagles’ 18. Compounding that was Reddick went down on the play.

Byard has not exactly had the best start with his new team. First, he held Ferguson on a third-and-two at the Dallas 26 on the Cowboys’ third drive, then lost track of Ferguson, who Prescott hit while scrambling for a 40-yard gain to the Eagles’ 34. It led to the Cowboys’ 14-7 lead with 11:21 left in the first half.

Ricks and Blankenship getting toasted by Prescott and CeeDee Lamb on a fourth-and-one at the Eagles’ 33 on the Cowboys’ second drive. Lamb blew by Ricks, and Blankenship was too late to get over and help, leading to a 29-yard reception at the Eagles’ four and eventually to a 7-7 tie with 1:37 left in the first quarter.

The Eagles’ kickoff coverage on the ensuing kickoff after their opening score. KaVontae Turpin took the kickoff 48 yards to the Dallas 47, giving the Cowboys great field position to tie the score.

Steen getting called for consecutive false start penalties on the Eagles’ first score. The shame of it is Steen did a nice job opening some holes for Gainwell to get into the end zone.


Joseph Santoliquito is a hall of fame, award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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