Eagles vs. Cowboys final score, takeaways: Amari Cooper makes the difference in wild overtime thriller
The Cowboys have taken a commanding lead in the NFC East with a huge overtime win over the Eagles
The NFC East belongs to the Cowboys. To claim ownership over the division, the Cowboys didn't just rip off five straight wins. They also beat the Eagles, the reigning division and Super Bowl champions, twice in the span of a month. And it was only possible because of Amari Cooper, a player who was stuck on the Raiders a month and a half ago.
When the Cowboys' surge began, they were 3-5 entering a crucial matchup against the Eagles in Philadelphia. Nobody saw that 27-20 win coming or the three wins that followed, but the Cowboys entered Sunday's rematch riding an out-of-nowhere four-game winning streak that vaulted them to the top of the division. On Sunday, with a chance to drive a stake through the Eagles' dreams of a repeat, the Cowboys came through with a thrilling 29-23 overtime win that improved their record to 8-5, stretched their winning streak to five games, and most importantly, gave them what is essentially a three-game lead (due to the head-to-head tiebreaker) over the 6-7 Eagles with three games remaining on the schedule.
After the Cowboys' defense owned the first three quarters, Cooper took over during the fourth quarter and overtime, scoring the Cowboys' final three touchdowns of the game, including two go-ahead scores and the walk-off winner. He finished with 10 catches, 217 yards, and three touchdowns. He is, quite simply, the reason why the Cowboys are going to win the NFC East. He turned a middling sub-.500 team into a playoff team. When he arrived just before the trade deadline-- a price most of us, at the time, called too expensive for a receiver of his caliber -- the Cowboys were 3-4 and questions about Jason Garrett's job status loomed. Now, they're 8-5 and in complete control of the division.
Let's call it what it is: a trade that saved their season.
Despite the Cowboys' domination in between the 20s during the first three quarters, turnovers and their inability to finish drives allowed the Eagles to hang around. It was 9-9 with 12:11 remaining after the Cowboys let the Eagles right back into the game with two turnovers that the Eagles turned into nine points. That wrapped up a very dull opening act, one that was filled with mistakes and lacked touchdowns.
It was a game that had us wondering, what even was the point of all of this?
Part II, which began three minutes into the fourth quarter, did not lack touchdowns. It rendered the first three quarters insignificant. It made us forget all about the first 45 or so minutes.
First, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper hooked up for a 28-yard touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 16-9 lead.
Prescott and Cooper did it again. On the Cowboys' first play after the Eagles tied the game, Prescott tossed one up for Cooper down the sideline, and Cooper did the rest.
Madness ensued. On the Eagles' ensuing drive, they thought they tied the game when Wentz hit Goedert again over the middle and Goedert proceeded to rumble downfield for a 75-yard touchdown of his own. But the touchdown came back due to a questionable-at-best offensive pass interference penalty.
In Dallas that's is not offensive pass interference. Heath tries to jam Goedert and Goedert uses his hands to swim through.— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) December 10, 2018
The penalty didn't screw over the Eagles, because they ended up mounting a game-tying drive that ended with the ageless Darren Sproles catching a touchdown from Wentz.
We had another stalemate, and the game headed to overtime after the Cowboys failed to get into field-goal range at the end of regulation as a result of a botched shotgun snap and a sack.
The Cowboys won the coin toss. And they never gave the ball back to the Eagles, cobbling together a 13-play, eight-minute, 75-yard drive that included one fourth-down conversion and a walk-off touchdown that Cooper caught after the ball deflected high into the air. If the ball had fallen incomplete, the Cowboys likely would've attempted a field goal, giving the Eagles a chance to tie or win the game. Instead, the ball fell to Cooper.
A crazy game got the crazy ending it deserved.
And that's how the Cowboys seized the NFC East.
Cowboys shoot themselves in the foot
We need to alk about Part I, because it mostly involved the Cowboys bungling chances to put the Eagles away. At halftime, the Cowboys led 6-0 even though they were out-gaining the Eagles 233 to 70. For that, the Cowboys can blame their inability to finish drives when they journeyed deep into Eagles territory.
On their second series, the Cowboys went 80 yards on 13 plays, but they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone. They settled for a field goal. After forcing a quick punt, the Cowboys journeyed right back down the field. But on the edge of the red zone, Prescott got greedy and took a shot to Cooper in the end zone, which is where Rasul Douglas picked him off. On the Cowboys' next series, they made it to the 27-yard line, but Brett Maher missed a 45-yard field goal. The Cowboys' self-inflicted mistakes continued on their final series of the first half when Tyron Smith got called for a holding penalty that turned a chipshot into 62-yard field goal. But Maher bailed out Smith by drilling the kick on the final play of the first half.
On their first possession of the second half after the Eagles went three-and-out again, they earned a quick trip to the red zone. But after a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, the Cowboys settled for a field goal from the 3-yard line. At the very least, that field goal gave the Cowboys a two-score advantage at 9-0, but at that point in the game, the Cowboys should've been up by three scores.
Midway through the third quarter, the game swung when Prescott overthrew his intended target over the middle of the field. The ball sailed into Corey Graham's arms. He returned the interception to the 2-yard line. Alshon Jeffery scored on the next play.
The Cowboys led only 9-6 after a missed extra point. At that point in the game, they were outgaining the Eagles by 187 yards. Prescott rebounded by fumbling around midfield, setting the Eagles up with good field position. Credit Michael Bennett for creating the takeaway. The Eagles cashed in with a field goal, tying the game at 9-9.
Finally, at the end of regulation, the Cowboys moved the ball into Eagles territory and it looked as if they'd get a chance to boot a game-winning field goal. But the fourth quarter ended in a Texas-sized disaster. First, a botched shotgun snap from the Eagles' 41-yard line lost both significant yardage and their final timeout. On the next play, Prescott took a sack, which sent the game into overtime.
The Cowboys won a thrilling game, but they could've won in a landslide if they'd played mistake-free football.
Dak struggles early on
About Dak. He ended up performing well in the fourth quarter and overtime. But he struggled mightily for most of Sunday's game.
His interception in the first half happened because he got greedy on a first-down play from just outside the red zone. Give Douglas credit for reading the play -- he was in zone coverage, kept his eyes on Prescott, and saw where the ball was going -- but that's just a throw Prescott didn't need to make in that situation. It was Prescott's first interception since the loss to the Titans that preceded their winning streak over a month ago.
His second interception, which gifted the Eagles their first points of the game, came as a result of an overthrown pass over the middle in his own territory. And then there was his fumble on the next series that led to the Eagles tying the game.
In the fourth quarter, when the Cowboys led by seven and had a chance to ice the game, he overshot Michael Gallup for what should've been a huge touchdown on third-and-long. They punted on the next play and handed the Eagles great field position, which allowed them to tie the game.
Prescott wasn't sharp. But it's worth noting that he's been playing better over the last month or so, and that he did explode for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime. For that, he deserves credit.
He finished 42 of 54 for 455 yards, three touchdowns, two picks, and a 104.9 passer rating. He was far from perfect. His turnovers nearly sunk the Cowboys. But he was good enough thanks in large part to his defense, which stymied the Eagles for three quarters, Cooper, and Ezekiel Elliott.
Zeke keeps rolling
Elliott's successful season continued with an outing that saw him lead the Cowboys' assault with 40 touches(!) and 192 total yards. He didn't reach the end zone, but he powered the Cowboys' offense until their late explosion of points. There weren't many jaw-dropping, highlight-worthy plays, but what he did was consistently pick up positive yardage.
During the Cowboys' five-game winning streak, Elliott is averaging 171.6 yards per game.
Aggressiveness pays off
On the final play of the third quarter, as the Eagles' offense struggled to piece together anything resembling a productive drive and after the defense just created its second straight takeaway, Doug Pederson left his offense on the field for a crucial fourth-and-3 from Cowboys' 48-yard line. Given just how poorly the Cowboys' offense had played to that point, it would've been understandable if Pederson had opted to punt and pin the Cowboys. Instead, he placed faith in his offense and maintained his aggressive mindset. He was rewarded with a 25-yard completion to Sproles that led to an Eagles field goal that tied the game at 9-9.
Jason Garrett returned the favor. In overtime, the Cowboys went for a fourth-and-1 from the 19-yard line instead of kicking a field goal and hoping their defense could get a stop. Elliott rewarded Garrett's decision with a two-yard run. Three plays later, the Cowboys won the game.
Cowboys defense is for real
Before the explosion of points, the Cowboys' defense was the story of the game. A week after holding the Saints to 10 points, they made the Eagles look like an offensively inept team coached by a John Fox or a Jeff Fisher.
In the first half, they limited the Eagles to four first downs and 70 yards. They didn't allow any points until Prescott's second interception gave the Eagles' offense the ball at the 2-yard line. Over the course of the game, they held the Eagles to 2.4 yards per carry (34 total). Wentz eventually went on to throw for 228 yards and three touchdowns, but at halftime he was 6 of 8 for 48 yards. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that Wentz got going. They dominated the first three quarters.
Zack Martin suffers knee injury
File this one under concerning: Cowboys All-Pro guard Zack Martin left in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
The good news for the Cowboys is that they can probably afford to miss Martin for a few games considering how far ahead they are of the Eagles in the NFC East. But if the injury extends into the postseason, they could be in serious trouble.
Eagles can't stay healthy
Speaking of injuries, the Eagles' injury woes continued.
Injury Update: CB Jones (hamstring) and RB Clement (knee) are both questionable to return.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 9, 2018
Injury Update: RB Clement (knee) and DE Sweat (ankle) are both out for the remainder of the game.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 9, 2018
Don't blame injuries for the the Eagles' woes, but they've been banged up all season long.
The Cowboys close out the season against the Colts (road), Buccaneers (home), and Giants (road). All three are winnable games, but all three of those teams have been competitive lately. The Eagles, on the other hand, finish the year against the Rams (road), Texans (home), and Redskins (road). That's a much tougher schedule. A win over the Redskins should be automatic given their quarterback situation, but the Rams and Texans are both playoff teams.
Just based on the schedules, give the advantage to the Cowboys.
Feel free to relive the game with our live blog below.
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