Cowboys handle Eagles to tie Philadelphia atop NFC East: How Dak Prescott boosted his MVP case

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By Jon Machota, Saad Yousuf and Brooks Kubena

The Dallas Cowboys brought down the Eagles 33-13 on Sunday at AT&T Stadium to take a massive step closer to a division title, tying Philadelphia with a 10-3 record atop the NFC East.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott strengthened his MVP case, going 24-of-39 passing for 271 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Dallas jumped out to an early lead as Prescott connected with CeeDee Lamb on a 13-yard pass in the first quarter to open the scoring. Prescott followed that with a 1-yard TD pass to Michael Gallup just before the half.

Rico Dowdle’s 1-yard run for a score in the second quarter and Brandon Aubrey’s 60-yard field goal in the first helped extend the Cowboys’ lead.

Aubrey also impressed with a 59-yard field goal in the third quarter to become the first kicker in NFL history to hit two field goals from 59 yards or more in the same game. In the fourth quarter, he nailed two more field goals from 45 yards and 50 yards out.

Meanwhile, the Eagles offense struggled despite a Jalen Carter 42-yard fumble return for a score in the third quarter. Quarterback Jalen Hurts went 18-of-27 passing for 197 yards in the loss.

With the win, the Cowboys remain undefeated at home this season and lead the conference along with the Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.

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Dominant win boosts Prescott’s MVP case, Dallas’ Super Bowl hopes

The Cowboys again showed why they are the NFL’s best team at home this season, securing their biggest win of the year by dominating the 10-win Eagles. Prescott has now become the league MVP front-runner with another quality showing, out-playing Eagles QB Hurts. Veteran Cowboys CB Stephon Gilmore might’ve been the biggest star of the game, turning in his best performance as a Cowboy. Aubrey continued to be incredible, making field goals of 59 and 60 yards with plenty of room to spare. Even the Dallas running game looked good. And, of course, the Dallas defense was incredible as a unit, not allowing a touchdown. This was a statement win. Even the harshest of Cowboys critics has to put them in the Super Bowl conversation after tonight. — Jon Machota, Cowboys staff writer

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Cowboys offense lives up to hype

Coming into the game, the matchup most would have pointed to as the big reason for a Cowboys win would have been their relentless offense against the Eagles’ shoddy defense. The Dallas offense lived up to the billing and did its part by pouring on 33 points in the game. The Cowboys, who have struggled to run the ball most of the season, had 96 rushing yards in the first half alone. Jake Ferguson once again came up with clutch catches, including a seam ball early, another catch-and-run in the middle later in the game on third down with Prescott being blitzed and then an acrobatic hurdle to cap off his night.

Prescott is the headliner when it comes to the Cowboys scoring points but what Aubrey did against the Eagles can’t be overlooked. The rookie kicker made four field goals and finished his night with a 50-yarder on the Cowboys’ final drive. His accuracy has been such a critical weapon all season for the Cowboys — he hasn’t missed a single field goal attempt — but now he’s showing off his range as well. The Cowboys’ offense has scored more than 30 points in six of their last seven games. The only game in that span they hadn’t scored 30 in was their 23-point output in Philadelphia, and they corrected that Sunday night. — Saad Yousuf, Cowboys staff writer

Eagles blow critical matchup

The Eagles had an opportunity to seize control of the NFC’s No. 1 overall seed. Instead, they fielded yet another game filled with fatal flaws, and it’s now highly questionable if this team is even capable of making another deep playoff run.

They trailed at halftime for the sixth straight game. Tonight’s 24-6 deficit was the largest yet. Their defense continued to be unreliable. After the Eagles surrendered six straight scores at the end of a 42-19 beatdown at home against the San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys scored three touchdowns and a field goal on their four first-half possessions.

First-year defensive coordinator Sean Desai still hasn’t figured out a solid way to organize his secondary. After having cornerback Darius Slay shadow the opponent’s No. 1 receiver in the last five games, Desai chose to keep Slay on the short side of the field against the Cowboys. This often placed nickel corner Bradley Roby in the slot against Lamb. On the first drive of the game, in a third-and-2 situation, Prescott hit a wide-open Lamb for the 13-yard touchdown with Roby trailing in pursuit.

The Eagles defense remains dreadful on third downs. They entered the weekend with the NFL’s worst third-down defense (47.3 percent conversion rate). The Cowboys converted on 9 of 15 third-down situations, scored two touchdowns on third downs, and the Eagles helped the Cowboys convert two more with Slay and rookie cornerback Kelee Ringo getting flagged for separate pass interference penalties. — Brooks Kubena, Eagles staff writer

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Philadelphia offense never a threat in loss

Meanwhile, the inefficiency of the Eagles offense and its growing pile of self-inflicted mistakes are reaching critical mass. Hurts, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith each lost fumbles. The Eagles have now turned the ball over 19 times in 2023, which, through 13 games, already ties their total from 2022. Hurts has now fumbled in seven straight games.

First-year offensive coordinator Brian Johnson once again failed to assemble a game plan that fielded any sort of consistent threat. They failed to seize momentum after defensive tackle Fletcher Cox forced a sack fumble that Carter returned for a defensive touchdown at the start of the second half. Down 27-13 with 32 seconds left in the third quarter, the Eagles failed to convert on a critical fourth-and-8 situation. Hurts was hurried by a six-man Cowboys rush and threw a short crossing pattern to Smith. It appeared Brown was supposed to inhibit cornerback Gilmore’s path, but Gilmore snuck under Brown and tackled Smith short of the first down. — Kubena

Highlight of the game

Brandon Aubrey has RANGE 😲

The Cowboys rookie kicker is the first player in NFL history to make two field goals of 59+ yards in the same game.

🎥 @NFLpic.twitter.com/EHnNE4tuvG

— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) December 11, 2023

Required reading

  • Cowboys rout Eagles on Sunday Night Football in crucial NFC East showdown: Highlights, game stats and live updates
  • NFL Week 14 takeaways: Bills playoff-bound? How far can Joe Flacco take the Browns?
  • NFL Week 14 storylines to watch: Eagles-Cowboys, Bills-Chiefs and backup QBs galore

(Photo: Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images)

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