Dallas Cowboys

Five things from Dallas Cowboys’ season-saving domination of Philadelphia Eagles

Question the Dallas Cowboys’ execution.

Question their play calling and decision making times.

But don’t their question heart, fight and love for coach Jason Garrett.

And certainly don’t disrespect them by guaranteeing victory at their house, as Philadelphia Eagles Doug Pederson now regrettably did early last week.

The Cowboys saved their season — and possibly Garrett’s job — with a complete domination of the Philadelphia Eagles before 91,212 fans who came prepared for a funeral and and got an old-fashioned revival in the 37-10 blowout victory.

The Cowboys (4-3) ended a three-game losing streak and took sole possession of the first place in the NFC East with their finest performance of the season.

A Cowboys team that got outscored 47-9 in the first half of their three straight losses to the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and New York Jets jumped out to a 14-0 lead and a 27-7 halftime score en route to the easy victory.

A Cowboys team that had forced just five turnovers through the first six games recorded four against the Eagles (3-4) — three fumbles and an interception to shut down the Carson Wentz-led offense that had averaged 26.8 points coming into the game.

Ironically, the Cowboys still haven’t beaten a team with a winning record. The previous three wins were against the Giants (2-4), Redskins (1-5) and Dolphins (0-5).

But they will take this continued domination of their division rivals, which included a season high in points and their largest margin of victory.

The Cowboys are now 3-0 in the NFC East and have won 13 of their past 15 games in the division.

They now head into next week’s bye, when they hope to heal up for a tough final stretch of the season in which they are now guaranteed to play meaningful games. A contract extension is also still in play for Garrett.

Here are five things from the blowout win:

Cowboys finally got going early

The goal was simple.

After being outscored 47-9 in the first half during a three-game losing streak to the Saints, Packers and Jets, the Cowboys knew they needed to get off to a fast start against the Eagles.

Done.

The Cowboys defense forced fumbles on the first two Eagles drives, and the Cowboys turned both of them into touchdowns — a 20-yard run by Tavon Austin and a 1-yard run by Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys scored just two first-quarter touchdowns in their first six games combined, one against the Giants in the season opener and one against the Dolphins.

The Cowboys didn’t let up up there, adding 13 points in the second quarter on a 1-yard pass from Dak Prescott to Blake Jarwin and two field goals from Brett Maher, a 26-yarder and franchise-record 63-yarder on the final play of the half, making the score 27-7.

Zeke Elliott, running game show up

The Cowboys were supposed to have tough sledding on the ground against an Eagles run defense that ranked second in the league, giving up just 78 yards per game.

But Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys started running down hill early, starting with an option play to receiver Tavon Austin for a 20-yard score on the opening drive. The Cowboys had 111 yards on 18 carries in the first half, including 65 yards on 13 carries for Elliott. Backup running back Tony Pollard had an 11-yard run, and quarterback Dak Prescott had three carries for 15 yards.

It was the foundation of a balanced attack that had its way with the Eagles early, including 155 yards through the air, allowing the Cowboys to score on five of six first-half drives.

Elliott finished with 111 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. It was his fourth career 100-yard game for Elliott against the Eagles.

Dak Prescott vs. Carson Wentz

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott got the best of Eagles star Carson Wentz again.

The two have been compared since they entered the league as rookies in 2016.

Wentz was the second overall pick. Prescott was picked in the fourth round.

But Prescott has owned Wentz in head-to-head matchups.

He is now up 4-2.

And he thoroughly outplayed Wentz on Sunday, completing 21 of 27 passes for 239 yards with one touchdown and one meaningless interception with the Cowboys up 31-10.

Prescott also had a touchdown run to make the score 37-10 in the fourth quarter. He set the Cowboys’ team record for most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

Wentz completed 16 of 26 passes for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception, the latter killed any hopes of an Eagles comeback attempt in the fourth quarter.

Wentz is considered more talented. But Prescott is the superior competitor and leader, and that showed Sunday as he willed his team to victory in a must-win game for both teams with his spirit and fire.

Cowboys defense makes plays, forces turnovers

The Cowboys defense has been maligned all season because its stars weren’t making plays and it wasn’t forcing turnovers to help the offense.

Consider that the Dallas Cowboys hadn’t started a drive inside their opponents’ 50-yard line all season.

Well, they did it twice in the first six minutes Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, thanks to a forced fumble by linebacker Jaylon Smith on the opening drive of the game and then a sack and forced fumble by defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on the ensuing defensive series.

The Cowboys had three sacks in the first half, with cornerback Jordan Lewis and defensive end Robert Quinn joining the party to help slow down a potent Eagles offense.

Lawrence promised before the game that he would show up and show out, thanks to Eagles coach Doug Pederson guaranteeing a victory early in the week.

Lawrence had just 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks through the first six games. He had a sack, a forced fumble and three tackles in the first quarter alone to set the tone.

The Cowboys had another forced fumble and an interception in the second half, giving them four turnovers for the night.

They had forced five turnovers through the first six games.

Up Next

The Cowboys get to exhale with a much needed bye that couldn’t have come at a better time.

Of course, the Cowboys would probably like to play and stay hot after the Eagles win, which ended a three-game losing streak.

But they could use the bye to heal up and get ready for a tough final stretch that includes games at the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and another matchup against the Eagles, as well as home games against the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams.

The win kept the Cowboys in first place in the East for now and saved their season, but much is left to be decided.

Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.
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