5 reasons the Eagles lost to the Cowboys
Rookie Wendell Smallwood had one carry Sunday night. It's one he's not going to forget for a while.
Early in the fourth quarter. The Eagles had a 10-point lead and momentum. They had just forced the Cowboys to punt and had the ball at their 41-yard line.
Darren Sproles was closing in on 20 touches and needed a blow. Ryan Mathews hadn't been heard from since the second quarter after gaining just 10 yards on four carries.
Smallwood got the call. Took a handoff from quarterback Carson Wentz and was almost immediately hit by defensive tackle Terrell McClain, who had busted through the line.
Out came the ball. McClain's linemate, Tyrone Crawford, fell on it at the Philadelphia 36. The Cowboys managed to gain just five yards on three plays. But it got them close enough for a 49-yard Dan Bailey field-goal try, which he made. Suddenly, it was a one-score game again.
SEE DAK RUN
The Cowboys, much like the Eagles, have tried to protect their mobile rookie quarterback by limiting his running.
Dak Prescott entered Sunday night's game with just 67 rushing yards and seven rushing first downs on 20 carries.
Against the Eagles, Prescott ran the ball seven times for 38 yards. Picked up first downs on four of those seven carries and notched his fourth rushing touchdown of the season on a seven-yard, first-quarter run.
He also used his mobility to elude the Eagles' pass rush and extend plays. That never was more evident than on his game-winning, five-yard touchdown pass to his wide-open tight end, Jason Witten. He scrambled around dodging Eagles pass rushers for nearly six seconds before throwing the ball to Witten.
Prescott's seven-yard TD run came on a zone-read one play after Ezekiel Elliott had run for 15 yards. Defensive end Connor Barwin went full bore after Elliott, allowing an easy score by Prescott.
The rookie had a 16-yard scramble in the second quarter when the Eagles were playing man coverage and had their backs turned to him. That gave Dallas a first and goal at the 7.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Cowboys trailing by seven, Prescott picked up 12 yards on a second-and-10 scramble. Two plays after that, he hit Dez Bryant for a game-tying, 22-yard touchdown pass.
On the Cowboys' game-winning drive in overtime, he picked up a first down on a fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak one play after the Eagles had stoned Elliott for no gain on third and 1.
THE PASS DEFENSE
Even with Prescott's ability to extend plays, the Eagles did a good job of shutting down the Cowboys' passing game for much of the game.
Dallas had 11 possessions. On nine of those, Prescott looked like, well, a fourth-round rookie quarterback.
The Eagles held him to nine completions in 26 attempts on those nine possessions. Linebacker Jordan Hicks intercepted a Prescott pass in the end zone in the second quarter to foil a potential scoring drive.
But then there were the other two drives. The 11-play, 90-yard touchdown march late in the fourth quarter that tied the game. And the 12-play, 75-yard touchdown series in overtime to win it for the Cowboys.
Prescott completed 10 of 13 passes for 135 yards on those two drives. Hit Bryant with a 22-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with 3:04 left. Connected with Witten on a five-yard, game-winning touchdown pass in overtime.
THE CURIOUS CALL
After the Cowboys closed to within seven points on a Dan Bailey field goal with 11 ½ minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles had a chance to make it a two-score game again.
They drove from their own 25 to the Dallas 30, which put them in red-hot kicker Caleb Sturgis' range. All they had to do was not lose any yards.
On third and 8, Wentz threw a swing pass to Darren Sproles. The play started going sideways right from the shotgun snap, which Wentz fumbled, something that's been happening far too often.
Wentz picked the ball up and tossed it to Sproles. But Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee alertly read the play, was in the backfield before center Jason Kelce, who was supposed to block him on the play but never had a chance to get a body on him, and drilled Sproles for a catastrophic six-yard loss.
Technically, they still were within Sturgis' range. It would've been a 54-yard attempt. Sturgis had made 15 in a row since a Week 1 miss. He had made a 55-yarder at the end of the first half.
But the risk was just too great. If he had missed, the Cowboys would've had the ball at the Dallas 44. So they punted.
As it turned out, it took the Cowboys just five plays on their next possession to get to the Philadelphia 44 on their way to a game-tying touchdown.
THE FAKE PUNT
The Eagles' special teams did a lot of good things Sunday night. Sturgis had the 55-yard field goal and had five touchbacks on six kickoffs. Josh Huff had a 53-yard kickoff return.
But Dave Fipp's vaunted punt coverage unit got snookered in the third quarter on a fake punt by Chris Jones. On a fourth and 8 from his own 27, Jones took off around the left end, picking up 30 yards and a first down.
Rookie cornerback Jalen Mills, who was rushing off the edge on that side, never picked up on the fake as Jones ran right around him.
The Cowboys drove to the Philadelphia 5 before the drive finally stalled. But they still managed to get a Dan Bailey field goal out of it to make it a seven-point game.