Give the Dallas Cowboys credit. They could have packed it in during the first half on Sunday night.
They looked like they were toast when the Philadelphia Eagles took a 20-0 lead. Cooper Rush played like a backup. The Cowboys as a whole looked overmatched on both sides of the ball.
Then things changed after halftime. Dallas cut Philadelphia’s lead to 20-17 in the fourth quarter. It looked like an epic comeback was possible. Then the Eagles got the one long drive they needed to put the game away.
The Cowboys wanted a real victory, not a confidence booster. They’ll have to settle for the latter after the Eagles held on to a 26-17 win. The Eagles are the NFL’s lone undefeated team at 6-0. Dallas is 4-2 after the loss.
The Cowboys should feel good about how it scratched their way back into the game. Dallas knows it’ll see Philadelphia again. And by then, the Cowboys will have their quarterback Dak Prescott back from a thumb injury.
Philadelphia probably isn’t scared of the rematch, or any other team right now.
Cowboys get back in the game
The Eagles were flat to start the second half and allowed the Cowboys back in the game. Ezekiel Elliott had a nice throwback 14-yard touchdown run. When Rush hit Jake Ferguson for a 7-yard touchdown, the Eagles’ lead was down to 20-17 early in the fourth quarter.
While we give Dallas credit for getting back in the game, the Eagles also deserve credit for what happened next. The Eagles, facing one of the NFL’s best defenses, marched downfield on a 13-play, 75-yard drive. Jalen Hurts hit DeVonta Smith on a short touchdown with a little more than seven minutes left and that pushed Philadelphia’s lead back to 26-17. The two-point conversion try didn’t work but it seemed like that lead would be enough for the win. Rush threw an interception on the next possession and that ended the comeback bid.
The drive was Philadelphia at its best, which was what it showed in an impressive first half.
Philadelphia did everything right in the first half. Its efficiency was startling. The Eagles can run it well. A.J. Brown has added an exciting and important element to the passing offense. Miles Sanders got the scoring going with a 5-yard touchdown run. Brown scored on a 15-yard catch and run on third-and-3 to make it 14-0.
Dallas’ defense has been excellent all season, but Philadelphia had no problems slicing through it before halftime. The Eagles’ line controlled the game, and in particular right tackle Lane Johnson took Cowboys linebacker and NFL Defensive Player of the Year favorite Micah Parsons out of the game in the first half, before Johnson left the game with a concussion.
Johnson’s injury is one reason the game started to turn around. Parsons started to become a factor. The Cowboys’ offense warmed up.
It’s the rare game in which both teams can feel good afterward. The Cowboys battled back and made it a competitive contest when it looked like they’d get blown out. They should feel good about the rematch on Dec. 24 if Prescott is healthy. They’ve competed hard with Rush, won some games and should feel like they can reach a new level once Prescott returns.
But more important, the Eagles got the win and showed the NFL why they’re 6-0.
Eagles move to 6-0
Nobody is going to remember that the Eagles almost blew a lead Sunday night. All that matters is they’re 6-0, two games up on the Cowboys. The New York Giants loom in the NFC East race at 5-1, and we’ll see if their hot start holds up all season. The Giants don’t play the Eagles until December.
Dallas has to feel good about where it is after six games. When they were 0-1 with Prescott heading off to thumb surgery, it looked like they could be irrelevant by the time their quarterback returned. But they won four in a row and had a reasonable performance at Philadelphia.
Without Prescott, the Eagles are on a different level than the Cowboys. Philadelphia is on a different level than all but a few NFL teams this season. The Eagles are the last undefeated team in the league and they’ve earned that. It has been an impressive start to the season. How will the Cowboys match up with Prescott? Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see in a couple months.
The rematch in late December will be interesting, especially if the Cowboys stay in the NFC East race until then.