PHILADELPHIA — For the better part of the past month, Dak Prescott could stand at the lectern at AT&T Stadium or a road venue and confidently state that the Dallas Cowboys — win or lose — were still in control of whether they made the postseason.

That ended Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Having lost 17-9 to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys are now in need of a victory next Sunday against Washington and a Giants upset of Philadelphia in order to keep Jerry Jones' "fairytale" hopes alive.

I asked the Cowboys quarterback what this season would mean if Dallas misses the playoffs.

"I can't put it into words, honestly," Prescott started. "As I've said we're going to control what we can control now and that's getting back to it and focusing on next week and making sure we get that win. At that point we're rooting for another team hoping we get a chance.

"That's not any position that anyone wants to be in to depend on someone else. But we've put ourselves in this position and it's disappointing and frustrating."

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Disappointing was the choice word for Jones in his brief interview with media following the loss. He kept his comments clipped, knowing the goal for the season is still within reach, even as they depend on a division rival to do the work they should have done here Sunday night. There's also the matter of the looming coaching decision—one that was made easier in Philadelphia after the coach with the worse roster held the most talented NFC East offense to three field goals.

Yes, Prescott was dealing with a shoulder injury that limited him throughout the week. To his credit, he didn't use that as an excuse for his inaccuracies. Prescott was 25-of-44 for just 265 yards against the Eagles and never found a rhythm.

"I missed some throws," Prescott said plainly. "I can't say I had pain or felt it in my shoulder. It could be maybe a lack of reps this week, who knows?"

The defense played well Sunday night, albeit against a team dressing three wide receivers who wouldn't have started on anyone's team in Week 1. It was the sixth time this season Dallas' defense has held a team to 17 or fewer points, and stunningly the Cowboys are 3-3 in those games.

In those three losses, the Cowboys have created just one takeaway. They had zero against the Eagles.

"We needed the big play, the game-changing play," veteran linebacker Sean Lee said. "And defensively we didn't make that."

The Eagles did miss two 50-plus-yard field goals, so Dallas had its field-position opportunities, but never took advantage of it.

Veteran receiver Amari Cooper didn't mince words after the game. He called his performance "terrible" in a contest he said necessitated his 'A' game. But, to be fair, it wasn't all his fault.

For whatever reason, the coaches decided to pull Cooper off the field on the crucial, final fourth-down play that ultimately saw Prescott's pass to Michael Gallup fall incomplete.

Cooper said he had just run a route, but offered no explanation as to why the coaches pulled him. Head coach Jason Garrett said Monday morning that Dallas wanted two tight ends on the field for that play instead of Cooper and Randall Cobb

Reflecting on the game, perhaps there were opportunities in the passing game the Cowboys didn't seize.

"Just to be honest, it wasn't nothing to do with the chemistry. It was the way those DBs were playing those particular routes," said Cooper, who finished with four catches for 24 yards. "For example on one of the routes it was a curl and I beat him at the line of scrimmage and he was under me. Obviously on a curl you have to stop….

"Just the way they were playing we could have ran more deep routes. The go ball was a good route to run tonight but we didn't really get to it."

Getting something going in the passing game was a must considering how well the Eagles were playing the run. Ezekiel Elliott, for the first time in his career facing Philadelphia, got bottled up most of the night. He rushed for 47 yards on 13 carries one week after he and Tony Pollard each went over 100 yards against the proud Rams defense.

The Cowboys had just six rushes for 16 yards in the first half.

"When you can't run, especially with this offense and the way we want to run and dictate how the game's going to be played, it's frustrating," Prescott said. "You have to throw the ball a lot, and any time you make a team one dimensional you give yourself a better chance. They did that. They had a good plan."

And the Cowboys' best laid plans are about to go awry. If you didn't believe a team like the Browns were actually Super Bowl contenders, that's fine. But the Cowboys? A playoff berth was seemingly guaranteed in August.

I asked defensive end Robert Quinn what was the most surprising thing about this Cowboys season after being traded to what he obviously thought was a playoff-bound team.

"Our record. Really our record," Quinn said. "We got talent. We have guys who work hard, commit 110%. Really just our record. It's surprising but whatever. Not happy about it all but at this point we can't go back and change it."

If there's something the Cowboys would change, it'd probably be that embarrassing, inexplicable loss to the Jets in Week 6. Prescott said he'd only frustrate himself looking back at games like that.

No, the Cowboys missing the playoffs wouldn't be the biggest failure of this NFL season. The L.A. Rams accomplished that Saturday night when they were guaranteed to sit at home in January and watch as their championship window likely closes.

There's still hope for Dallas, even if the Cowboys' future is out of their control.