That was certainly easy.
The Eagles tried every way they could to win this game, but somehow, someway – and honestly I have no idea how – they persevered, eventually beating Dak Prescott, eventually defeating the Cowboys, and finally escaping with a win.
This game ended with the Cowboys six yards shy of the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds, but the Eagles finished with 28, the Cowboys with 23, and you can all breathe a sigh of relief now.
Here are our observations on a must-win victory for the Eagles.
1. The scene of Jalen Hurts jogging out of the tunnel onto the field after halftime was just about the best thing an Eagles fan could have asked for. After the hit he took in the knee at the end of the second quarter? Watching Hurts limp off the field is like watching the entire season fall to pieces. When you bring him on in the second half and perform at such a high level, it just shows how tough Huts is, how resilient he is, how quick he is and how focused he really is to be able to function like that it’s physically impossible for him to be anywhere near 100 percent. Hurts put together another fantastic passing game – 17 of 23 (74 percent) for 207 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. With multiple TD passes in three consecutive games, his shooting percentage was over 74 percent. None of us know how badly injured he is, but Hurts is playing at an extremely high level right now. And the Eagles really need it all.
2. After losing 14 of their last 22 games to the Cowboys, nine of their last 14 to Dallas at Linc and seven of their last eight games to Dak Prescott, the Eagles had to have this game. Had to have. If you want to consider yourself a true Super Bowl contender, you’ll need to hold serve against another top team in your division, your biggest rival by far, and a team you’ve struggled against for much of the last decade. That’s why it was so huge. It wasn’t Ben DiNucci or Cooper Rush that beat the Eagles. This wasn’t a crappy Cowboys team coached by Jason Garrett that wasn’t going anywhere. This was Dak Prescott and a 5-2 Dallas team and a game the Eagles had to win as the teeth of the game plan were showing after the bye. Nick Sirianni has done a lot of positive things since arriving here, but beating a good Cowboys team with their regular quarterback at the Linc – something the Eagles haven’t done since 2006, believe it or not – is right up there , when it comes to winning in the regular season. The Eagles enter the bye in command of the NFC’s No. 1 seed and 2½ games ahead of the Cowboys, trying to become the first team since the 2001-04 Eagles to repeat in the NFC East. There will be other challenges and other big games. Chiefs, Bills, 49ers, Cowboys again, Seahawks. But there’s not much better than a win over Dak and the Cowboys. The Eagles are the best team in the NFL and they proved it on Sunday at Linc.
3. I love the second half rebound from the Eagles offensive line, which was pretty shaky in the first half but pulled itself together after halftime and played much better the rest of the way. In the first half, Hurts was sacked three times, beaten four times and pressured eight times, with 16 dropbacks. There were no sacks, one hit and two pressures in the second half. Rookie Tyler Steen deserves a lot of credit for playing at a high level at right guard against an impressive defense in his first NFL start. This is not an easy NFL debut. But actually that was just typical Jeff Stoutland. He knows exactly what adjustments to make, what changes to make, what buttons to push, and the O-line has achieved a near-perfect second half. And Steen’s heads-up play to recover D’Andre Swift’s fumble with a minute left in what could have been a major disaster probably saved the game.
4. The Eagles have been juggling secondary lineups all year, dealing with injuries, calling guys up from the practice squad, signing guys off the street, and I have no idea how they pull it off, but when the smoke cleared on Sunday, The Eagles had managed enough to get a win. Dak had his usual standout game against the Eagles with 375 passing yards and three touchdowns – he’s never thrown an interception at Linc – and CeeDee Lamb had 192 yards, but this defense is great in big moments. BG’s sacks. Sweaty’s sack. Reed Blankenship at the goal line keeps Luke Schoonmaker out of the end zone. Slay, Nicholas Morrow and Sydney Brown on the final play, who somehow found a way to keep Lamb out of the end zone after a 23-yard catch all the way to the 4-yard line, and then Blankenship actually secured the loose ball. The Eagles have gave up a lot of yards, made a lot of big plays, left a lot of players wide open and committed a lot of stupid penalties. But 28-23 is 28-23. And 8:1 is 8:1. And that’s really all that matters.
5. Once again the Eagles didn’t run the ball well, but I liked that Brian Johnson didn’t give up the run this time after a slow start. And as the game went on, they finally picked up some momentum and started picking up yards on the ground. I’ve said all along that it makes sense to mix it up, be diverse and unpredictable, and keep the defense guessing even when the running game isn’t generating big numbers. And that’s exactly what the Eagles did. The running game is still not where it needs to be or was in the first month of the season. The Eagles finished the game 33-109, allowing 3.3 yards per pop but two touchdowns. They have now averaged 3.6 yards per carry or worse in four straight games for the first time since 2007. It’s hard to believe how they went at the beginning of the year. I think getting Cam Jurgens back will help, and certainly a healthy – or at least healthier Jalen Hurts – will help, of course. But sometimes it’s crucial to just stick with it.
6. Whenever a player goes through adversity – be it a fumble, a bad play, something embarrassing off the field – Nick Sirianni always seems to give that guy extra opportunities on the field the next week to give him a chance to be successful to atone for his misfortune. on, he had. We all know what a week Kenny Gainwell has had. All three of them – a fumble, a bad play and something embarrassing off the field. Gainwell responded great. Got the ball on the Eagles’ first drive in the red zone and scored from 12 yards out. Then he had a big block on D’Andre Swift’s 20-yard catch-and-run that set up the Eagles’ second touchdown and a couple of big tackles on special teams, although he only managed 22 yards on three carries and a short catch, he played a significant role in a big win for this team. I like that Sirianni gave him that trust and I like how he responded. Gainwell is a good kid who had a bad week and he deserves a chance to show what he really stands for and he helped this team win a game.
7. The Eagles escaped with a win, but man, the penalties could have easily derailed this team on Sunday. They were convicted of 10 violations for 98 yards and some, particularly in the fourth quarter, were simply pointless and could have cost the Eagles dearly. Early in the fourth quarter, Kevin Byard was called for a stupid, unnecessary roughness penalty inside the 20, and that was the drive that left Luke Schoonmaker’s knee at the one-foot line on 4th down. And then Haason Reddick attacked the passer so hard with 40 seconds left that he was able to pass the ball to the Cowboys at the 25-minute line. And maybe it was tricky, but the refs will give the quarterback everything too late. Byard and Reddick are both veterans who should know better. The Eagles dodged a lot of shots on Sunday but were fortunate to overcome those penalties.
8th. How great was it to see Brandon Graham make 1 ½ huge sacks in the fourth quarter? BG only had half a sack on the Eagles’ first eight plays, but when the Cowboys entered Eagles’ territory just before the two-minute warning, BG recorded a seven-yard sack on a 1st-and-10 and then split a sack on Jalen Carter for a four-yard loss on the next play. That was one of three Cowboys drives inside the 30 on which Dallas failed to score. This was just the fourth time in BG’s 14-year career that he had multiple sacks in a fourth quarter. BG doesn’t play as much anymore and Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick will be the main edge rushers here. But Graham will always be a legend here and it speaks volumes about the person he is and the player he is that he still makes big plays in big moments despite having his playing time reduced. He is an all-rounder.
9. I think what I like most about this team is their ability to win football games no matter what goes wrong, no matter who isn’t playing well, no matter how crazy things get in the fourth quarter, no matter who’s injured. The Eagles’ ability to win close games is truly remarkable. They are now 13-2 in their last 15 one-possession games, and one of the two losses came to Gardner Minshew at quarterback rather than Jalen Hurts. There’s something to be said about a team that finds ways to win no matter what adversity it faces, no matter what goes wrong. This comes directly from Nick Sirianni, who has instilled in everyone on the roster a tremendous amount of confidence in his system, a tremendous amount of confidence in the people around him, and a tremendous amount of resilience when things fall apart all over the place. This team has talent, no question about it. But many teams have talent. The thing about the Eagles is that they just win over and over again. Think about it: The Eagles have either had or shared the best record in the NFL for 27 straight weeks. Since Sirianni’s Roots Growing Underground speech, they are 29-6 in meaningful games and 28-3 with Hurts at quarterback. They just keep winning and that’s so difficult.