The Dallas Cowboys turned the heat way up in the NFC playoff race on Sunday night with a 33-13 victory over their fiercest division rivals.
Led by quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys never relinquished their lead and stifled the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense all night. Both teams moved to 10-3 on the season and are in a virtual tie with the Niners for first place in the NFC. But if the season ended this week, the Eagles would settle for a wild-card spot in the latest playoff standings as the No. 5 seed, while the Cowboys are now in the No. 2 spot. Here’s a full breakdown of each team’s performance:
Is it time to consider the Cowboys among the best in the NFL? Sunday’s win at least temporarily has them in first place in the NFC East with four games to go. However, if the Cowboys and Eagles both win their remaining four games, Philadelphia would claim the division based on a tiebreaker. That story remains to be written, but on Sunday, the Cowboys’ defense dominated the Eagles, holding them to just two field goals while forcing three takeaways and coming up with a critical fourth-down stop.
Philadelphia’s only touchdown came on a Prescott fumble. Dallas’ offense might not have been as finely tuned as it has been over the past month-plus, but Prescott threw two more touchdown passes and the run game was able to wear down the Eagles’ front.
Oh, and rookie kicker Brandon Aubrey just kept doing what he has done all year: making field goals. He made four more (60, 59, 45 and 50 yards) and tied the team record for most consecutive makes at 30.
The Cowboys have won five in a row and have reached double-digit wins for the third straight year. It’s their longest such streak since they achieved the feat in six straight seasons from 1991 to ’96. Those Cowboys won three Super Bowls in that stretch. These Cowboys might have just put themselves in that discussion.
QB breakdown: Prescott put up two more touchdown passes for the seventh straight game, tying Tony Romo for the longest single-season streak in team history. Don Meredith had a 12-game stretch with at least two touchdown passes over the 1965 and ’66 seasons. But this was not as smooth a night as Prescott has normally had, especially with his accuracy. In the past seven games entering Sunday, Prescott had completed at least 65.8% of his passes. Through three quarters, he completed 58.1% of his passes (18 of 31). It’s only the third time this season Prescott has completed less than 62.5% of his passes in a game.
Promising trend: Bryan Anger was forced to punt for the first time since Thanksgiving, following a span of three games and 18 possessions. Before Sunday, his last punt came in the third quarter of the Cowboys’ win against the Washington Commanders. The Cowboys scored on their final three possessions in that game and did not punt on 11 drives against the Seattle Seahawks (eight scores). The Cowboys scored on their first four possessions against the Eagles before Anger took off the cobwebs with a 48-yarder in the third quarter.
Silver lining: At 33, Stephon Gilmore is not showing his age. After DK Metcalf lit up the Cowboys last week, Gilmore kept him in check in the second half. Against the Eagles, Gilmore forced an A.J. Brown fumble on the Eagles’ first possession of the second half. At the end of the quarter, he corralled Brown and DeVonta Smith on consecutive third- and fourth-down plays, which the offense than turned into a Brandon Aubrey field goal to up the lead to 30-13. — Todd Archer
The Eagles are suddenly on shaky ground following Sunday night’s loss to the Cowboys. It is their second lopsided defeat in as many weeks, as they were dismantled by the San Francisco 49ers at home, 42-19. They can take some solace in the fact that those losses came against top-tier NFC teams, but the defense is leaking oil and the offense continues to be plagued by slow starts and untimely turnovers.
Philadelphia dropped to 10-3 and is in a virtual tie with the Niners and Cowboys for first place in the conference. The Eagles need to rebound in Week 15 to stabilize and keep pace for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
QB breakdown: Jalen Hurts was limited to 92 yards on 7-of-13 passing before the break as the Eagles dug a halftime hole for the sixth consecutive game. He lost a fumble on Philadelphia’s opening possession to halt a promising drive. Hurts was up-and-down throughout the contest and was certainly not helped by some uncharacteristic miscues from standout receivers DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown.
Pivotal play: Trailing 27-13 late in the third quarter, coach Nick Sirianni opted to go for it on fourth-and-8 at the Dallas 30-yard line. The Cowboys dialed up a blitz and Hurts had to get rid of the ball quickly. Smith caught it but was short of the sticks for a key turnover on downs.
Troubling trend: The Eagles have now allowed 64 points in the final two minutes before halftime this season, the most in the NFL. It took the Cowboys just 1:28 to march 75 yards on eight plays for a Michael Gallup touchdown just before intermission to extend their lead to 24-6. — Tim McManus