By Bailey Montgomery
Dallas Cowboys 29, Philadelphia Eagles 23
Wow. Once again, this Cowboys team finds a way to win a barn-burner, and an important one at that. There were some great moments, as well as some bad, in this divisional battle. I am going to start with the offensive side of the ball, where this offense found a way to make huge plays in the fourth quarter to win this football game.
#3: Ezekiel Elliott
For most, I would say that it is hard to have a “quiet” 192 all-purpose yard day, but that is exactly what Zeke did on Sunday afternoon. Zeke wore out this Philly defense early, gashing them for over 70 rushing yards in the first half. When Zack Martin went down, they seemed to shut the running game down.
For me, two plays stick out for Zeke late in this game, with the first being a long 2nd down. Dak dumped the ball to Elliott, who cut the 2nd and 19 into a 3rd and 9 with a 10 yard reception. Zeke has been significantly more involved in the passing game after the bye week, where he has brought in at least 4 receptions in every game since. Zeke had 12 receptions for 79 receiving yards in this one, providing a solid security blanket for Prescott.
The second play that sticks out is the obvious, and that is the 4th and 1 in the overtime period. When head coach Jason Garrett was asked about why he went for it in this situation, his answer was simple, and that was that he feels he has the best running back in the league. Zeke lunged forward for the first down, keeping the drive alive for this Cowboys offense. This proved to be the difference, as a deflected completion to Cooper went for a touchdown to walk it off for the ‘Boys.
#2: Dak Prescott
What a turnaround by Dak. Through 3 quarters, Dak seemingly couldn’t do anything right. He had thrown two interceptions to a struggling Philadelphia secondary, and had given the Philly defense another turnover via fumble. Dak turned the ball over in Philly territory late in the first half, under throwing Amari Cooper right into the hands of Corey Graham. In the third quarter, he sailed a wide open Michael Gallup, setting the Philadelphia offense up for their first points of the game, seeming to completely shift the momentum.
But if you know anything about this Dallas quarterback, you know that he is as mentally tough as they come. Dak backed up a tough 3 quarters with a historic fourth quarter and overtime period, completing 17 of 20 passes for 3 touchdowns. Dak led Amari Cooper perfectly in stride in the back of the endzone with just under 8 minutes to go in the fourth to go up 16 to 9. After a Dallas Goedert touchdown, Dak bounced right back on first down, throwing another strike on a go route to Cooper again, which went for 75 yards to the house.
After Philly came back to tie the game and force overtime, Dak engineered a beautiful final drive, completing all 5 of his passes, which ended with a 15 yard touchdown to no one other than Amari Cooper. I was as critical of Prescott as anybody through 3 quarters, but this guy is as competitive and mentally tough as they come, showing us just why Jerry Jones and company believe that he is the franchise quarterback.
#1: Amari Cooper
Not everybody was thrilled with the organization’s decision to go out and get Cooper mid-season, but I loved the move. Personally, I don’t think there is anybody we would have gotten in the 2019 draft that is as good as Cooper, who is only 24 years of age. Cooper has proven to be worth the pick, hauling in 6 touchdowns and over 600 receiving yards in his first 6 games in Dallas. Sunday was Cooper’s biggest game yet, making play after play in the fourth quarter to boost the Cowboys to their fifth straight win.
I truly believe that Amari Cooper is one of the premier route runners in the NFL. Amari Cooper has provided consistent separation for Prescott, who has thrived since Cooper’s arrival. Cooper has provided big play ability, which this offense had been lacking. Cooper beat the corner down the sideline early in the fourth quarter, as Prescott hit him perfectly in stride for a 28 yard touchdown. The next offensive play, Prescott hit him again down the sideline, this one going for 75 yards and another touchdown. After the game, Cooper told the media that he told Dak he wanted the “go route”, which he ultimately got and took to the house. Amari has proven to be exactly what this Cowboys offense needed, leading them to 5 straight wins and putting them in the driver’s seat in this NFC East race.
This was also another great performance by the defense. Here are my top performers on the defensive side of the football.
#3: Tyrone Crawford
Tyrone Crawford may not have put together as complete of a game as other players that did not make the top 3, but his play late in the second quarter in my opinion changed the momentum entirely. Crawford beat the Philadelphia tackle off of the edge, as he was knocked off balance and to the turf. Crawford stuck with the play, stripping Wentz and giving the ball back to the Cowboys offense, who had just missed a chance for points on the miss by Maher. On a drive that I thought for sure was going to give the Eagles the lead or at least the tie, Crawford made a huge stop, giving the ball back to this offense. This eventually went for 3 points as time expired, where Maher nailed a Cowboys franchise record 62 yard field goal.
#2: Jaylon Smith
These Cowboys linebackers continue to fly around and make plays. Smith led this defense with 9 tackles on the afternoon, putting together a complete football game. He collected 1.5 tackles for loss, leading this Cowboys defense to another incredible defensive performance. This linebacking crew of Smith and Vander Esch are so fun to watch, and hopefully will continue to be for many years to come.
#1: Byron Jones
My top performer on this defense was Byron Jones. Just 4 weeks after Zach Ertz torched this Cowboys defense in Philly with 14 receptions, 145 yards and 2 touchdowns, Kris Richard decided to allow Jones to chase Ertz a lot of the afternoon. The result? 5 receptions for 38 yards, and no touchdowns. Ertz is Wentz’ biggest third down weapon, and Jones did a great job of covering him up and helping get this Philly offense off the field. Jones and company held this Philly offense to only 1 third-down conversion in 9 tries, helping give the Cowboys offense over double the time of possession in this game.
This defense is playing at a very high level, along with some timely offense that is allowing this Cowboys team just enough to continue to win games. I still am very concerned with our offense’s efficiency inside the red-zone, which was on display early in this game once again. This offense has to find a way to continue to stay ahead of the chains in these situations, and cash these drives in for touchdowns rather than field goals. If this offense can find a way to do this, as well as limit the turnovers, watch out for this Cowboys team in January.
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