ARLINGTON, Texas – Dak Prescott came dangerously close to validating Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill’s midweek jab.
But in the end, the Cowboys didn’t choke.
Dallas outlasted Philadelphia for a 29-23 overtime win to improve to 8-5. With the Giants’ 40-16 manhandling of Washington earlier Sunday, the Cowboys now hold a full two-game lead on the Eagles and the Redskins in the NFC East.
Here are three things we learned in the Cowboys’ fifth straight win:
1.The Amari Cooper trade worked
Does a 200-yard game mean the Cowboys have a No. 1 receiver? The Cowboys traded their 2019 first-round pick to the Raiders for Cooper after a close loss to the Redskins in October. Cooper exploded for 180 yards and two scores in the Thanksgiving rematch with Washington to send Dallas atop the NFC East. Against the Eagles on Sunday, Cooper helped pad that lead.
When the Eagles tied the game at 16 in the fourth quarter, Cooper responded with a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the next drive. In overtime, he scored the game-winning 15-yard touchdown off a tipped pass. He caught 10 balls for 217 yards in total while helping open things up for Ezekiel Elliott to tally 114 rushing yards and 79 more receiving. Golden Tate, whom the Eagles traded their third-round pick for the same week, finished with one catch on three targets for 7 yards.
2. Still, Dak Prescott needs to protect the ball better
Credit Philadelphia’s defensive line, in part, for Sunday's defensive effort. The vaunted front seven helped the Eagles win their first Super Bowl in February. Prescott also allowed an injury-depleted secondary to pick him off twice. He lost a third ball to a Michael Bennett strip sack recovered by Brandon Graham.
Prescott supplanted Tony Romo as the Cowboys' quarterback in 2016 in large part because of his ball security. His 23-touchdown, four-interception rookie year is now a distant memory. Prescott has thrown five interceptions and fumbled 12 times (six lost) through 13 games this season. The Eagles returned his third-quarter interception to the Dallas 2.
3. Eagles defense unleashes its offense
After the Cowboys held Philly scoreless for the first 38:56 of the game, the interception’s prime field position set up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Alshon Jeffery. Even with Jake Elliott’s missed extra point, the Eagles pulled within 3.
Dallas hasn’t let up more than five first downs before halftime in four weeks. Its defense allowed the Eagles just 70 total yards in the first two quarters. But tight end Dallas Goedert and running back Darren Sproles found the end zone in the fourth quarter as the Eagles pitched in 17 points to a fourth quarter featuring 31 combined. As the Cowboys defense limited Philadelphia to one of 9 on third down and half (16) the first downs the Cowboys (32) gained, the Cowboys offense did enough.
Follow Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
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