Sports

Eagles vs. Cowboys: The good, the bad, and the ugly

The Eagles remained the only undefeated team in the NFL by finding a way to win again, getting by the Dallas Cowboys, 26-17, after almost blowing a 20-point lead Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

This is the third time in franchise history the Eagles have started the season 6-0 (1981 and 2004 were the other two times).

The Eagles used an explosive 20-point second quarter to win. So far this season, they’ve scored 112 points in the second quarter, and just 14 points in the first, 17 in the third and 18 in the fourth.

Jalen Hurts finished by completing a modest 15 of 25 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns, while AJ Brown caught five passes for a team-high 67 yards and his second touchdown of the season, and Miles Sanders rushed for 71 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown .

The Eagles ‘defense threw some heat at Cowboys’ backup quarterback Cooper Rush, who completed 18 of 38 for 181 yards and a touchdown, while throwing three interceptions, two by safety CJ Gardner-Johnson and one by cornerback Darius Slay.

Entering the game, Dallas had only turned the ball over twice in its first five games.

The Eagles won without Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson out for the second half under concussion protocol, after Johnson did a sound job corralling Dallas outside linebacker Micah Parsons.

There was a lot of good, with some bad and some ugly in the Eagles’ 26-17 victory over Dallas.

The Good

On second-and-nine at the Dallas 29, Hurts finding Brown for a 22-yard gain and a first down at the Dallas seven with 7:32 to play. The following play Hurts hit DeVonta Smith with a touchdown pass, padding a slim lead into a 26-17 cushion with 7:02 to play.

On third-and-four from the Dallas 45 with just over 10:00 to play, running back Kenneth Gainwell going five yards for a first down. It extended the Eagles’ drive and protected the slim 20-17 lead.

On third-and-nine at the Dallas 26, cornerback Darius Slay stepped in front of a Rush pass intended for Michael Gallup with 5:14 left in the second quarter, which eventually led to Jake Elliott‘s second field goal. Slay batted down another pass on second-and-10 at the Eagles’ 41 with 1:17 to play.

Hurts finding Brown on third-and-three at the Dallas 15 with his second TD reception of the season and a 14-0 Eagles’ lead with 4:07 left in the half.

Cornerback James Bradberry deflecting a pass intended for Gallup. Safety CJ Gardner-Johnson intercepted the deflection with 14:47 left in the first half at the Dallas 44. Bradberry came back to deflect another Rush pass with 9:24 left in the half, on a critical fourth-and-one at the Dallas 34. The defended pass led to an Elliott 51-yard field goal and a commanding 17-0 Eagles’ lead.

Gardner-Johnson later made a game-preserving second interception with a diving catch with 5:03 left to play. Defensive end Brandon Graham forced the interception by pressuring Rush.

On the Eagles’ first score, left guard Landon Dickerson manhandling Dallas ‘tackle Chauncey Golston, creating a running lane for Sanders to score the Eagles’ first touchdown. Dickerson twisted, then buried Golston.

Eagles’ coach Nick Sirianni going for it on fourth-and-four at the Dallas 10 with: 08 left in the first quarter. A Dallas ‘neutral zone infraction set up Sanders’ five-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter.

On the Eagles’ second drive, on fourth-and-three at the Dallas 38 with 3:38 left in the first quarter. It was the most significant play in shaping the tenor of the game. It was a great designed play, which caused Parsons to momentarily hesitate at misdirection, and allowed Hurts to pitch a short pass to Brown for an 11-yard gain. Johnson, who had done a good job against Parsons, did not block him at all. Parsons came forward and did not know what to do, rush Hurts or pick up Brown, who ran by him. The fourth down conversion set up the Eagles’ first score of the game.

Hurts’ 21-yard completion to back-up tight end Jack Stoll on the Eagles ‘second drive, which brought the ball to the Eagles’ 43 on second-and-eight. In the grand scheme of things, it may not have seemed important, but it jump-started the Eagles’ offense.

Safety Marcus Epps diving deflection on third-and-four at the Dallas 41 on the Cowboys’ second series.

Defensive tackle Jordan Davis fighting off Dallas center Tyler Biadasz to stop Tony Pollard for a two-yard gain on first-and-10 at the Dallas 35 on the Cowboys’ second drive.

Defensive end Josh Sweat closing down on Ezekiel Elliott on the Cowboys’ first drive, on a third-and-two at the Dallas 24.

Linebacker Kyzir White batting down Rush’s first pass of the game, which was intended for CeeDee Lamb.

The Bad

Hurts missing Brown on third-and-eight at the Eagles’ 44 on their first drive. Hurts had him open and overthrew.

Brown dropping the Jalen Hurts ‘first pass of the game at the Eagles’ 35.

Linebacker Haason Reddick not being able to get off the block of Cowboys’ right tackle Terence Steele on the first play of the game, when Lamb took an end around for eight yards. On second-and-14 at the Eagles’ 24 with: 15 left in the third quarter, Reddick failed to take down Elliott, who reached the Eagles’ 12 on the last play of the third quarter.

The Ugly

In a very rare mistake by center Jason Kelcethe miscommunication between Kelce and Hurts resulted in a fumble when Kelce snapped the ball while Hurts was still calling out signals. The Eagles recovered the fumble at the Dallas 42 with 2:46 to play.

Gardner-Johnson and Epps both whiffing on Dallas tight end Jake Ferguson on the Cowboys’ seven-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown reception with 14:39 to play, putting Dallas within 20-17.

With 14:54 left to play, Slay getting called for illegal contact on a third-and-two at the Eagles’ 12. The flag gave Dallas a first down and set up the Ferguson score.

Linebacker TJ Edwards for losing Ferguson on a first-and-10 at the Eagles’ 47 for a 22-yard gain. The play led to Ezekiel Elliott’s 14-yard touchdown run with 8:19 left in the third quarter.

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox being totally taken out by Steele, who had a great game, on the Elliott third-quarter touchdown run. Then Cox watched Elliott on the back end run right by.

Linebackers Kyron Johnson and Nakobe Dean losing outside contain on KaVontea Turpin’s 63-yard kickoff return that led to the Cowboys’ only points of the first half.

The only other blemish in an otherwise perfect half came with 2:21 left in the second quarter when tackle Jordan Mailata was flagged for a false start. It left the Eagles with a third-and-18 at the Dallas 28, forcing them to settle for an Elliott 34-yard field goal and a 20-0 lead.


Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler AJ Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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