It took 30 minutes for the Eagles to look like the best team in football -- and credit to the Cowboys for holding them off that long -- but once Philly got going, Dallas had no answers. None. When it was over, the Eagles cruised to a 37-9 victory, thanks to a running game that accounted for more than 200 yards and quarterback Carson Wentz coming to life over the final two quarters. After a slow start, he finished with two touchdowns and no turnovers and remained firmly atop the MVP conversation.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, continue to struggle, mostly because one of the league's most explosive offenses a season ago is now without two of its best players. As a result, more of the burden has fallen on quarterback Dak Prescott and, for various reasons -- most of which are out of his control -- he hasn't been able to replicate his success from 2016.
Pace won the race for the Eagles on Sunday night
The Cowboys jumped out to a 3-0 lead thanks to Ryan Switzer's 63-yard kickoff return to open the game. That lead lasted all of four minutes, 19 seconds. That's how long it took the Eagles to march 75 yards down the field on an eight-play drive that included six first downs, including a nifty 22-yard Carson-Wentz-to-Kenjon Barner completion that set up just-as-nifty Barner 4-yard touchdown run.
But the rout was not on. Not yet, anyway.
The Cowboys kicked a field goal on their next series and then forced the Eagles to punt. And even though Philly's defense force Dak Prescott into an early interception, the Eagles couldn't capitalize; four plays later, Jake Elliott honked a 34-yard field goal. Despite a Cowboys' three-and-out on the next series, their defense returned the favor when the Eagles got the ball early in the second quarter.
It might not seem like much but Philly came into this game with the league's best record, a legit MVP candidate in Carson Wentz and riding a seven-game winning streak. Their defense is oppressive and their offense is damn-near unstoppable. But the Cowboys proved otherwise, at least over the first 30 minutes and gained some much-needed confidence in the process.
And again the Cowboys' defense bailed out its offense -- something we rarely said a season ago -- and the Eagles were forced to punt twice more before halftime while Dallas added another field goal to take a 9-7 lead at the break.
But when the Eagles took the field to start the third quarter, they looked a lot like the NFL's best team -- the one we hadn't seen for most of the first half. Wentz led an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was punctuated with a two-point conversion because Elliott had been ruled out after suffering a concussion on the game's first play.
And with that, it was finally on.
On the Eagles' next drive, Jay Ajayi got things going with a 71-yard run where the most amazing part of it was that he somehow didn't score.
If the Cowboys played the Eagles even over the first 30 minutes, it was clear these teams were heading in different directions over the final two quarters. Ajayi's run was emblematic of that.
Three plays later, Wentz registered his first touchdown of the evening:
The Eagles led 23-9 with nearly a quarter to play but for all intents and purposes, the game was over. Except no one bothered to tell Wentz, who concluded the Eagles' next drive like this:
The Eagles added a defensive touchdown and forced Prescott into his fourth turnover before before eking out the 28-point win.
Wentz > Prescott
No one thought Wentz was better than Prescott when both were rookies in 2016, but there is no doubt this season. Wentz, who could easily win MVP honors, finished only 14 of 27 for 168 yards, but he threw two impressive touchdowns and didn't turn the ball over. He also wasn't sacked.
Carson Wentz has thrown 2+ pass touchdowns in each of his last 6 games, the longest active streak in the NFL— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 20, 2017
Meanwhile, Prescott looks like a second-year quarterback who is playing in fear for his life because he doesn't have his all-world running back and -- more important -- his all-world left tackle. When it was over, Prescott had four turnovers -- including two first-half interceptions, a fourth-quarter fumble that was returned for a touchdown, and an interception in the Eagles' end zone after the game had long been decided. He finished 18 of 31 for 145 yards with no touchdowns and those four turnovers, plus he absorbed four sacks a week after going down eight times.
Here are the first two picks:
Two plays before that happened, this happened:
That's Eagles rookie Derek Barnett, who also pressured Prescott on the aforementioned interception.
And here's the fumble that sealed it:
Life without Zeke, Week 2
Two down, four to go.
The Cowboys' running back announced last week, and that means he'll be sidelined for four more games. Elliott's agents said Wednesday that the running back accepted the suspension because it was in his best interests and the best interest of those close to him.
Elliott's lawyer said in a statement: "The decision arises from a practical assessment of the current legal landscape. Mr. Elliott's desire for closure in this matter is in his best interest, as well as the best interests of his teammates, family and friends."
In addition to Sunday night's game against the Eagles, Elliott will miss home games against the Chargers and Redskins and road games against the Giants and Raiders. He won't be eligible to return until the Cowboys' Week 16 game against the Seahawks on Christmas Eve.
Life without Tyron Smith, Week 2
Several good-news nuggets. First, a week after getting sacked eight times by the Falcons, Prescott went down only four times on Sunday night. Part of the reason: The Cowboys replaced left tackle Chaz Green, Adrian Clayborn in Week 10, with Byron Bell. Bell was serviceable, which makes him a Hall of Famer compared to Green.
Second, Smith, who has battled a groin injury, hopes to play this Thursday when the Cowboys play host to the Chargers on Thanksgiving.
No Jake Elliott, no problem (sort of)
With kicker Jake Elliott rule out for the second half because of a concussion, Eagles coach Doug Pederson said the offense would go for it on fourth down. But they would still need to kick the ball off. Turns out, that wasn't a problem because of the unlikeliest of sources: linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, whose kickoff early in the third quarter made it to the Cowboys' goal line.
It got better: Grugier-Hill's next kickoff resulted in a touchback.
The Eagles are now 9-1 ...
The Eagles haven't been to the playoffs since 2013, back when Chip Kelly was the NFL's hottest new things and Nick Foles looked like a legit franchise quarterback. Before that, Philly last qualified for the playoffs in 2010 under Andy Reid, who was Eagles coach for 14 seasons and had a 10-9 career postseason record.
In case you're wondering: The 2004 squad was 13-1 before losing its final two regular-season games.
The Eagles (9-1) will play host to the Bears (3-7) on Sunday while the Cowboys (5-5) welcome the upstart Chargers (4-6) to AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving Day. Philly maintains the NFL's best record while Dallas' playoff hopes take another step back; the team is currently 10th in the NFC.