The Eagles brought far from their best to AT&T Stadium in Dallas, but against a bruised and battered Cowboys squad, having a down year, the Birds’ best was more than enough as they trounced Dallas 37-9 Sunday night.
After a dreadful first half, the Eagles remembered how to run the ball and wored to compile 216 total yards on the ground and outscore Dallas 30-0 in the second half. Carson Wentz, not his usual highlight-reel self, still managed to throw for two impressive touchdowns while the offense didn’t turn the ball over. The defense bent but didn’t break and held Dak Prescott in check as well forcing four turnovers.
Adding an extremely unusual twist to the Eagles gameplan was the loss of Jake Elliott to a potential concussion as the kicker led with his head to make a tackle on the opening kickoff. In his absense linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill looked pretty comfortable kicking off, but the Birds did their best to avoid field goal situations throughout the game.
Here are three things we saw as Philly’s 9-1 record all but clinches the NFC East (over 5-5 Dallas):
Keep em out of the end zone
Opening 61-yard kickoff return held to three points after an Eagles defense three-and out. A second Dan Bailey field goal followed as a 65-yard first quarter drive also stalled in the red zone as the Cowboys had to settle for another triple. With the two tops the Eagles are the only NFL team that hasn’t allowed a first quarter touchdown.
Rodney McLeod caused the first turnover of the game, his third interception on a tipped Dak Prescott pass attempt deep in the Eagles’ end. However a missed chip shot field goal by Jake Elliott gave the Eagles the ball right back. Ronald Darby, fresh off the disabled list, struck next with his own interception on a deep third and long ball tossed by Prescott.
A third turnover came after Prescott was sacked by rookie Derek Barnett in the fourth quarter, fumbling a ball recovered by Nigel Bradham who ran 33 yards for a score. Philly was able to keep Prescott from finding paydirt as Malcolm grabbed his own interception in the end zone in the fourth.
Take your turn
One of the most interesting — and most frustrating for fantasy football players — things about this Eagles team is how they get everyone involved and spread the wealth. Heading into Sunday night, the team has yet to have a 100 yard receiver and had 10 players score a touchdown. In the Eagles’ opening drive, an 11th skill player scored as Kenjon Barner crossed the goal line on a four-yard run up the middle. The score came a play after the running back made a juggling sideline catch for 22 yards.
Jay Ajayi looked right at home busting open a 71-yard run, the longest of his NFL career in the third quarter. The drive put Philly ahead by two scores after Torrey Smith caught just his second touchdown pass on a slant three plays later. A two-point conversion scrambling toss to Alshon Jeffery made it 23-9.
A majestic diving Jeffery nab on fourth down near the goal line gave Philly six more points, more or less cliching the game with a 29-9 advantage three minutes into the fourth.
Wentz aint right?
The rust may not have been apparent on the Eagles’ opening touchdown drive but it shown bright through the first half as a stretch of six consecutive Wentz incompletions didn’t help the team overcome five straight three-and-outs, two with very good field position following an interception. Neither the passing or running game could get going and with the defense constantly on the field it felt like Chip Kelly all over again, as the Cowboys led at the half 9-7.
Wentz looked better after the second half kickoff leading the Eagles on an 8-play 75-yard drive to take a 15-9 lead. Corey Clement scored his sixth touchdown (and also scored the two-point conversion) making the rookie the second best scoring first year player in the league.
The second year signal-caller barely eclipsed the 50 percent competion moniker, connecting on 14-of-27 passes (for 168 yards).