Things were already interesting when this NFC East matchup got underway, but got even more so with the Washington Football Team losing to the Carolina Panthers. With that loss, the Dallas Cowboys beating the feathers off of the Philadelphia Eagles -- with a 37-17 final score -- keeps them in contention for the division title in Week 17, along with the New York Giants, their opponent in the regular season finale. The Eagles fired out of the gate in Week 16 and it felt like they'd run away with it at AT&T Stadium, but the opposite turned out to be the case.
Jalen Hurts was doing damage both on the ground and in the air, tearing off big runs and finding DeSean Jackson for an 81-yard bomb for his second passing touchdown of the day to stretch their lead in the first quarter. It was the last time the Eagles would find pay dirt for the remainder of the game, however, the Cowboys fighting back in the second quarter by way of a touchdown toss from Andy Dalton to wideout Michael Gallup after a dry first 15 football minutes.
From there, the Cowboys went on a tear, torturing the Eagles secondary in the process. Gallup had himself a day and ended the first half with a second touchdown to give the Cowboys their first lead of the game, and he was joined in the aerial assault by Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb -- the latter finding the end zone both as a receiver and as a running back -- as the Eagles found no answer for the Cowboys passing attack.
And with that, the Eagles are eliminated from playoff contention and next Sunday is for all the marbles in the NFC East. Here are the key takeaways from Sunday's Dallas victory.
Why the Cowboys won
It's tough to say who delivered more this week: Amazon Prime or the Dallas Cowboys.
When they needed a big play on offense, they delivered it. When they needed a big play on defense, they delivered it. Time and again, the Cowboys carved out chunks of the Eagles heart and fed it to them, in a game that began to get away from them early. It wasn't the usually downtrodden and floundering defensive effort, or lack thereof, that caved after seeing the opposition score two touchdowns in the first quarter. Instead, they clamped down, and with the help of defensive end Randy Gregory -- whose three forced fumbles are the most by any Dallas defender since 2016. Gregory not only helped contain an uber-mobile Hurts, he bullied him on-demand, and it helped the Cowboys secondary join the party in a big way. With Hurts feeling the pressure in the second quarter and beyond, he became nervous -- as most NFL rookie quarterbacks would -- and that's when the giveaways showed up.
It was a provocative complement to the offensive output, one that saw both Gallup and Cooper finish with 121 receiving yards, and the former combining with Lamb for a combined four TDs. The Cowboys scored 34 points after the first quarter, and the Eagles scored only three after hanging 14 on them in the first 15 minutes.
Why the Eagles lost
Football is a team sport, but sometimes one player truly can define a game.
For the Eagles, that player is cornerback Michael Jacquet, III, whom the Cowboys took to the woodshed in what quickly mushroomed from a Philadelphia lead to a funeral service at AT&T Stadium, and not for Dallas. Jacquet was targeted a team-high nine times before being benched, allowing a massive 182 receiving yards on seven catches in the process. His play siphoned whatever momentum the Eagles had established as a team when they led 14-3, and losing All-Pro defensive lineman Fletcher Cox only made matters worse. Later in the contest, when the Eagles stops the most, they found themselves being brutalized by Elliott as a means of eating the clock and keeping the defense on its heels. By the time Hurts attempted to play hero ball, it was too late, and led to mistakes that wound up finishing off any hopes of a long shot playoff berth -- finishing the day with two interceptions and a lost fumble.
And now, it's back to the drawing board for the Eagles, who have a lot to figure out at both the quarterback position and in the secondary, outside of Darius Slay.
The Cowboys trailed for much of the entire first half, until they suddenly didn't. With only 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Gallup hauled in his second touchdown of the day, giving Dallas its first lead and further exposing a terrible Philadelphia secondary.
Play of the Game
Gallup gave the Cowboys the lead for the first time with the above play, and Lamb flat out torched his defender on this wheel route to make it a 27-17 affair -- Dallas never again taking their foot off of Philadelphia's throat.
X hearts 13
"Have a day Gallup!!!" - Dez Bryant, via Twitter
The Cowboys now face a win-and-get-in scenario in the regular season finale against the New York Giants, who themselves have a shot at doing the same. That is, for both, assuming Washington loses against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17 -- the latter having now been deleted from the playoff hunt.
Catch all the highlights and action from you might've missed in the live blog below.