Dak Prescott

Roob's observations after must-win for the Eagles ends in celebration

Roob's observations after must-win for the Eagles ends in celebration

Box score

That sound you heard on the Cowboys' final drive was the sound of 70,000 Eagles fans at the Linc holding their breath.

An Eagles team that's blown so many leads this year and squandered so many opportunities didn't let it happen again.

It wasn't easy, and as always the Eagles made it harder on themselves than it had to be, but when the dust settled the Eagles had themselves a dramatic 17-9 win over the Cowboys.

A loss would have given the Cowboys their second straight NFC East title and eliminated the Eagles from playoff contention. Now the Eagles win the division with a win Sunday against the Giants.

It's now safe to breathe again.

1. It was perfect that Sidney Jones made the play that clinched the Eagles’ biggest win of the year. A guy who's been benched, who's been vilified, a guy who was only in the game because of injuries. That’s kind of become the personality of this team. Guys off the practice squad, guys cut by other teams, guys who weren’t playing earlier in the year. The Eagles beat the Cowboys Sunday for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is that these young guys are hungry, they injected some life into a moribund roster, they never stopped working when they weren’t playing, they never hung their heads, and when they got their opportunities — whether it was Greg Ward or Boston Scott or Josh Sweat or Jones on that final play or Robert Davis or take your pick, that’s why they won. Because the Eagles never stopped being a team. They never stopped believing in their coach. And they never stopped playing hard. This was an improbable win by an improbable cast, and all the Eagles have to do now is find a way to do it again next week.

2. If this was a defining game for Carson Wentz, you’ve got to love the way he defined himself. Throwing to an assortment of rookies, practice squad call-ups and unknowns, he had the game of his life — 31-for-40 for 319 yards, a TD and no interceptions. His key receivers were a backup tight end, a rookie running back who had 28 career receptions in college and a receiver who was on the practice squad last year, and they combined for 18 catches for 239 yards and a TD. Wentz is playing as well as he ever has. If you don’t believe in him now? You may as well not even be an Eagles fan anymore.

3. It’s been a rough stretch for the Eagles’ defense, but this was a dazzling performance. To hold the Cowboys to nine points and no touchdowns? Specifically, the Eagles did two things they haven’t done in recent weeks — covered extremely well and tackled well. The Cowboys came in No. 1 in the NFL on third down at 48.6 percent and went just 3-for-14. In particular, their work on Eagles killer Ezekiel Elliott was tremendous. Zeke ran 13 times for 47 yards and he did add 37 receiving yards but he didn’t have a play longer than 11 yards. This is a guy who’s averaged 163 scrimmage yards against the Eagles. The Eagles needed a monster performance Sunday from the defense, and Jim Schwartz’s unit delivered.

4. I’m running out of superlatives to describe Miles Sanders. A week after his 172-yard scrimmage yards against the Redskins he had 156 more on Sunday. He’s not just good. He’s not just exciting. We’re seeing the birth of a flat-out superstar.

5. Zach Ertz deserves so much credit for coming back into that game after suffering a rib injury and making four big catches in the second half. Few things more painful than a rib injury. You can’t breathe. People whine about Ertz not being tough enough. You want tough? We all saw it.

6. Best game Malcolm Jenkins has played all year. Jenkins hasn’t been bad this year but he hasn’t been the elite player we’re used to seeing. Sunday he was all over the place. Sunday he was elite. The Eagles needed their great players to be great, and he really was.

7. Incredible performance from Dallas Goedert, with career highs of 9 for 91 and a touchdown. With Ertz in the locker room, Goedert played like a true No. 1 tight end. He’s now got 54 catches, and he and Ertz are only the 9th tight end duo in NFL history with 50 catches each in the same season. On a team with only zero veteran wide receivers, Ertz and Goedert have been off the charts this year.

8. Greg Ward is a baller. My goodness. It’s unimaginable that this guy was rotting away on the practice squad a month ago. He is so smooth, so secure with the football, so instinctive in his ability to get open. I have no idea how the Eagles didn’t realize what they had right under their noses for 2 ½ years, but fortunately for the Eagles no other team snapped him up. He was huge Sunday with 4-for-71, and what he’s done these last five weeks  — 21 catches for 221 yards and a TD  — is remarkable. He has become what we’ve wanted Nelly to be. Ward’s going to be making plays for this team for a long time.

9. I hated Pederson letting Jake Elliott try to make a 55-yard field goal with 11 minutes left in the game and the Eagles up 17-6. Terrible. Elliott has struggled lately, missing from 47 and 49 yards the last few weeks and 53 earlier in the game. Your defense has allowed 6 points in 49 minutes. Either go for it or have Cam Johnston pin ‘em deep and let your defense do what it’s been doing all day. Gave the Cowboys the ball at their own 45 and could have really been a momentum turner. For a while it seemed like it was.

10. None of this means anything if the Eagles don’t beat the Giants on Sunday. And that won’t be easy. With Saquon Barkley back fully healthy and Daniel Jones playing the way he did Sunday, the Eagles won’t be able to just go up there and float through that game. The division title is right there for them. It’s not the time for letdowns. They need to go up there and dominate a Giants team with no reason to play.

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Dak Prescott goes all week without full practice before Eagles-Cowboys

Dak Prescott goes all week without full practice before Eagles-Cowboys

While everyone fully expects Dak Prescott to play on Sunday afternoon, the Cowboys quarterback will have to play after being limited all week in practice. 

There wasn’t a big change in Prescott’s status on Friday. 

“He’ll be pretty limited,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said in a press conference in Texas on Friday. “He might do a little more than he’s done, but don’t anticipate a full practice from him today.” 

Will Prescott throw at all on Friday? 

“If he does, it won’t be much,” Garrett said. 

The Eagles obviously know that Prescott has been listed on the injury report, but they don’t know the true severity of the injury. Only Prescott and perhaps some staff in Dallas know that. 

So the Eagles are preparing as if Prescott is going into the game at 100 percent. 

“Listen, if you know Dak Prescott and I’ve had a chance to meet him and talk to him, he’s a tough kid,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “He’s not going to miss this game; we know that. He’s a competitor and he’ll want to play. At the same time, it is what it is. He’s on the injury report just like our guys. It’s nothing really more than that. Expect a full Dak Prescott on Sunday.”

Despite going the whole week without a full practice, Prescott was without an injury designation on the Cowboys' final injury report Friday.

Early in the game on Sunday, the Eagles will get a good sense of how healthy Prescott is and whether or not they should change their defensive approach. 

In seven career games against the Eagles, Prescott is 5-2 with 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He has a passer rating of 85.3 in those games. 

The Cowboys’ backup, by the way, is former Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush. He has played in five career NFL games. 

Garrett on Friday was asked if the uncertainty with Prescott’s health makes it harder to game plan. 

“Yeah, it just is what it is,” he answered. “You deal with injuries all the time. The next guy has to be ready to go. Coop’s done a nice job the last couple days and Dak has to get himself ready in a way that’s maybe a little bit different for him. But you use the opportunities you can do get yourself prepared.”

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Doug Pederson on Cowboys: 'This team has our number'

Doug Pederson on Cowboys: 'This team has our number'

Doug Pederson is going to try to do something this weekend that he’s had a hard time doing since he got here.

Beat the Cowboys.

Pederson is 2-5 against the Cowboys, although in the loss on the last day of the 2017 regular season with the Eagles already locked into the No. 1 seed came with backup players.

“This team has our number right now,” Pederson said Friday.

The Eagles face the Cowboys on Sunday at the Linc with a chance at the NFC East title at stake.

A win combined with a win against the Giants a week from Sunday gives the Eagles the NFC East title and a playoff berth. A loss gives the division title to the Cowboys. 

A Cowboys win Sunday would make Dallas the first team to win the NFC East two years in a row since the Eagles in 2003 and 2004 and give the Cowboys three division titles in the last four years.

So there’s a lot going on here. 

Pederson is 38-22 against the rest of the NFL, a .633 winning percentage. And 2-5 against the Cowboys.

He conceded Friday that the Eagles' failures against the Cowboys bother him.

“I do think about that,” Pederson said Friday. “The start of the season every head coach gets up and says, ’Let’s take care of our division.’ You take care of your division, you’re in the postseason. The Cowboys have been a team we've struggled with, honestly. It’s something we've just got to continue to work and try to overcome. They've had our number here recently and then really since my time here in Philly. It’s something that as we look at the tape and how I prepare the football team and get ready to play and all of that, I look at all of that. At the end of the day, we’re focused on this game, and hopefully we can turn things around. We do well with the other teams. It’s just this one team that has our number right now.”

The Eagles are 6-2 vs. the Redskins and 6-1 vs. the Giants under Pederson. 
The only other team that the Eagles have faced more than once since 2016 that Pederson has a losing record against is the Seahawks (0-3). You can add the Saints (0-2) if you include the playoffs.

If the Cowboys win Sunday, it will be the first time since 1993 and 1994 they’ve swept the Eagles in consecutive seasons. 

The Eagles haven’t swept the Cowboys since 2011, and their current four-game losing streak to Dallas is their longest since a seven-game losing streak over the 1992 through 1995 seasons.

The Eagles are 1-6 in their last seven games against the Cowboys at the Linc and overall going back to 2009, they’ve won just 8 of the last 22 matchups.
Carson Wentz has played well against the Cowboys, with 11 TDs and 2 INTs. 

But the Eagles have had trouble stopping Dallas. In the last three games in particular the Cowboys have averaged 31 points, 167 rushing yards and 462 total yards and converted at least 50 percent of their third downs in all three games.

This is the first the Cowboys have ever netted 400 yards in three straight games against the Eagles.

The Cowboys crushed the Eagles 37-10 in October, taking a quick 14-0 lead after two early Eagles turnovers and not looking back. It was the Cowboys’ most lopsided win over the Eagles since 1998.

“I look back to our first game, again, the turnovers early in that football game really cost us big and then we were playing from behind,” Pederson said. “Even some of the games that we’ve watched this week and from last year and even the year before, we got down early in these games, and it’s something we try to put an emphasis on the best we can. We’ve got to stop the run, we understand that, and try to slow them down, and offensively we’ve got to start fast and put points on the board and try to sustain. (And avoid) the penalties where you’re in 3rd -and-long and their pass rushers can really get after you. And then we’ve got to be able to score sooner than later against these guys.”

Stop the run, don’t turn the ball over and avoid commit costly penalties. Sounds easy. For the Eagles against the Cowboys lately, it’s been anything but.

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