For the first few weeks of the season, the Cowboys resembled an honest-to-goodness Super Bowl contender. They began 3-0 and some regarded them as the team to beat in the NFC. Prescott looked like a leading MVP candidate, and the Cowboys seemed to be justifying the big-money contract extensions handed out by owner Jerry Jones to running back Ezekiel Elliott and other players.
Three losses later, the situation had become relatively dire and the Cowboys were coming off a particularly galling defeat to the then-winless New York Jets. It was being debated whether Jones might fire Jason Garrett as his coach.
By late Sunday night, all was well again. The Cowboys had offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins back in the lineup. Wide receivers Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb played after being listed as questionable on the injury report. The Cowboys converted two early turnovers by the Eagles into touchdowns and led 14-0 in the first quarter and 27-7 at halftime. They never looked back.
Prescott threw a touchdown pass and an interception in a 21-for-27, 239-yard passing night. He also ran for a touchdown. Elliott ran for 111 yards and a touchdown. Cooper had 106 receiving yards. Brett Maher kicked three field goals, including a 63-yarder as time expired in the first half.
“It’s awesome,” Prescott said. “It starts with that offensive line. I love to see what they were doing, how nasty they are. That’s a bunch of great guys that work together. When Zeke gets going, it’s fun to watch. I love to hand it off and watch it be great.”
The Eagles, at 3-4, fell a game behind the Cowboys. It’s probably a two-team race in the forgiving division, with the third-place New York Giants at 2-5 and the bottom-dwelling Washington Redskins at 1-6. Eagles Coach Doug Pederson vowed early last week that his team would win this game, then denied that he’d made a victory guarantee. That led Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to advise Pederson to “shut his [butt] up and stay on the sideline.”
Lawrence had the final word Sunday after forcing an early fumble by Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz on a sack.
“It’s over,” Lawrence told NBC. “I feel like he got a statement today. So we’re gonna let him go sleep on it.”
Pederson said at his postgame news conference that he’d been confident in his team and didn’t regret expressing that confidence. The performance against the Cowboys should prompt a moment of self-examination by all Eagles players and coaches, Pederson said, adding that would begin with him.
“This is one of those game that I take personal from that standpoint,” Pederson said.
The Eagles are shorthanded. Their list of injured key players includes wide receiver DeSean Jackson and left tackle Jason Peters. But injuries are part of the sport, and no one feels sorry for the Eagles. Pederson and Wentz must figure something out.
For Wentz, the Nick Foles safety net is gone. The Eagles recommitted to Wentz as their franchise quarterback in the offseason when they permitted Foles, the former backup who became a Super Bowl MVP while filling in for the injured Wentz, to leave for Jacksonville via free agency and signed Wentz to a four-year, $128 million contract extension.
The truth, though, is that the Eagles played their best the previous two seasons with Foles, not Wentz, in the lineup. If Wentz is to be a franchise quarterback, he needs to begin playing like one. That wasn’t the case Sunday, when Wentz lost two fumbles and threw an interception. He threw for a modest 191 yards and was sacked three times.
The Eagles had four turnovers in all, three of which led to Cowboys touchdowns. They have lost four straight meetings with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys, not the Eagles, are the team to beat in the NFC East as they enter their bye week. The Cowboys don’t play again until a Nov. 4 meeting with the Giants at the Meadowlands in a Monday night game.
“We’ve just got to keep going,” Prescott said. “We’ve got to build off of this. This was a great team win right here. But we’ve got to get better in this bye week and know in two weeks we’ve got another division rival and it’s gonna be another big game.”
It’s getting ugly: Carson Wentz and the Eagles continue to be generous. Wentz lost a fumble on a mishandled snap. It was the second lost fumble of the night for Wentz. He also has thrown an interception in a three-turnover night for him. The Eagles have four turnovers, three of which have led to Cowboys’ touchdowns. Dallas cashed in this time with an eight-yard touchdown run by Dak Prescott. (Cowboys 37, Eagles 10 with 9:33 left in the 4th quarter)
Offsetting interceptions: Carson Wentz threw an interception to the Cowboys’ Xavier Woods. But Dak Prescott returned the favor by throwing a deep-ball interception to the Eagles’ Jalen Mills. (Cowboys 30, Eagles 10 with 11:07 left in the 4th quarter)
Another FG for Maher: No long-distance field goal exploits were needed this time from Brett Maher. The Dallas kicker connected from 29 yards. (Cowboys 30, Eagles 10 with 12:36 left in the 4th quarter)
Eagles get FG: Kicker Jake Elliott connected on a 38-yard field goal to draw Philadelphia a bit closer. Elliott’s perfect season continues — he hasn’t missed a field-goal attempt or an extra point. (Cowboys 27, Eagles 10 with 4:59 left in the 3rd quarter)
Dallas defense loses two: The Cowboys have ruled out two key defenders from returning to this game. Defensive end Robert Quinn is out with a rib injury and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch it out with a neck injury.
Halftime in Arlington, Tex.: The Cowboys are seeking to end a three-game losing streak in a game that Eagles Coach Doug Pederson pledged his team would win. It’s looking quite a bit better for the Cowboys so far than for Pederson and the Eagles. The Cowboys are clicking on offense, generating turnovers on defense and thriving in the kicking game. They lead the Eagles, 27-7, at halftime at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles committed two early turnovers on fumbles lost by tight end Dallas Goedert and quarterback Carson Wentz. The Cowboys converted both into touchdowns on runs by Tavon Austin and Ezekiel Elliott. Quarterback Dak Prescott later threw a touchdown pass to tight end Blake Jarwin and kicker Brett Maher added a pair of field goals, including a 63-yarder as time expired in the half. That’s only one yard shy of the NFL record, set by Matt Prater for Denver in 2013, for the longest field goal. Prescott threw for 161 yards on 15-for-20 first-half passing. Elliott has 65 rushing yards and wideout Amari Cooper has 65 receiving yards. Wentz threw a touchdown pass to Goedert but it was an otherwise dismal first half for the Eagles in a game that’s for first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys get the ball first in the second half, also. (Cowboys 27, Eagles 7 at halftime)
Dallas adds FG: A 26-yard field goal by kicker Brett Maher has upped the Cowboys’ lead to 17 points. The kick was set up by a 44-yard strike from Dak Prescott to wide receiver Amari Cooper. (Cowboys 24, Eagles 7 with 1:31 left in the 2nd quarter)
Cowboys add to lead: Dallas has its offense in gear. The Cowboys restored their lead to 14 points with a one-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to tight end Blake Jarwin. Prescott rolled to his right and found Jarwin uncovered in the end zone, with the Eagles apparently focused on stopping the run. The Cowboys converted on fourth and one near midfield earlier on the drive with a pass from Prescott to Ezekiel Elliott. An apparent touchdown catch by Amari Cooper was negated when he was called for offensive pass interference and left tackle Tyron Smith was called for holding on the play; the Eagles declined the interference penalty and accepted the holding. But the Cowboys were not to be denied. (Cowboys 21, Eagles 7 with 6:40 left in the 2nd quarter)
Eagles bounce back: It’s been an eventful first quarter at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles have bounced back with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to tight end Dallas Goedert. That capped an 87-yard drive aided by two personal fouls called on the Cowboys, one for a roughing-the-passer infraction on a third-down incompletion. Wentz and Goedert teamed for the touchdown after each lost a fumble on Philadelphia’s first two possessions of the game, leading to two Cowboys’ touchdowns. (Cowboys 14, Eagles 7 with 4:38 left in the 1st quarter)
Two Eagles’ TOs, two Cowboys’ TDs: That victory “guarantee” by Eagles Coach Doug Pederson isn’t looking too good so far. The Eagles have lost two fumbles leading to two Cowboys’ touchdowns. Ezekiel Elliott scored on a one-yard run for Dallas after the Cowboys recovered a fumble by Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz on a sack by DeMarcus Lawrence. Elliott appeared to have scored on a 14-yard run on the previous play but was ruled down at the 1-yard line on an instant replay review. Lawrence, on his sack, got around Philadelphia right tackle Lane Johnson and knocked the football from Wentz’s hand. It was Lawrence, remember, who issued the public warning for Pederson to remain on the sideline (where else would he be?) after the coach said early last week that the Eagles would win this game, then denied that he’d made a victory guarantee. (Cowboys 14, Eagles 0 with 8:56 left in the 1st quarter)
Cowboys cash in on turnover: The Cowboys have the early lead over the Eagles, cashing in on a fumble lost by Philadelphia tight end Dallas Goedert. The Cowboys took over at the Philadelphia 45-yard line and scored on a 20-yard run by Tavon Austin. (Cowboys 7, Eagles 0 with 10:08 left in the 1st quarter)
The NFC East has been in full retreat, with the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles leading the way. They began the season resembling legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Instead, they are .500 teams entering their “showdown” Sunday night in Arlington, Tex., for first place in the surprisingly feeble division.
The winner, at least, will emerge feeling better about itself and its prospects to get things headed back in the proper direction.
The urgency is particularly high for the Cowboys, given that they are playing at home and that they are on a three-game losing streak that has followed their 3-0 start to the season. For three games, quarterback Dak Prescott looked like a leading league MVP candidate and the Cowboys seemed to be justifying the big-money contract extensions handed out by owner Jerry Jones to running back Ezekiel Elliott and other players. Only a few weeks later, the situation is relatively dire, and the Cowboys are coming off a particularly embarrassing defeat to the previously winless New York Jets.
Things have gotten bad enough that it is being debated whether Jones would fire Jason Garrett as his coach if the Cowboys lose to the Eagles. It probably wouldn’t happen, given that Jones has dismissed only one head coach — Wade Phillips — during a season. But the fact that is has become a topic of public conversation is telling. Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer added to the intrigue when he said in a radio interview that he “absolutely” would be interested if the Cowboys were to come calling after the season.