PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Eagles needed to beat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon to keep their playoff season hopes alive. They did just that and are now in the driver’s seat for the NFC East. The Eagles beat the Cowboys, 17-9, at Lincoln Financial Field to take control of the division.
If the Eagles beat the New York Giants next Sunday, they win the division. If Dallas loses next week, the Birds win the division.
“If you want to talk about a team win, this was definitely a team win, offense, defense and special teams,” head coach Doug Pederson said.
Thanks to a big play from cornerback Sidney Jones on a 4th-and-8 on Dallas’ final drive, the Birds’ defense clamped down to secure the win.
“Game on the line, you know you got to make a stop and it’s time to rise,” Jones said. “When we get those plays, we’re going to make them.”
The Birds’ offense looked rejuvenated, scoring on their first two drives. Wentz threw a bullet into coverage to connect with tight end Dallas Goedert for a six-yard touchdown, giving the Eagles a 10-0 lead.
But, things slowed down as the Cowboys hung around.
On the opening drive of the second half, a forced fumble by Fletcher Cox, which was recovered by Malcolm Jenkins, got the defense fired up and electrified the crowd.
“It felt great. It felt great to be out there with my guys again,” Carson Wentz said. “Like I said, that playoff atmosphere, you can’t beat it, especially being at home here. The fans were awesome tonight. The guys made plays, but at the end of the day, we still have one more.”
Wentz answered the call with a monster effort, completing 31 of 40 passes for 319 yards and a TD. Wentz hit wide receiver Greg Ward with a beautiful 24-yard pass late in the third quarter to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Miles Sanders.
The Sanders TD put the Birds up 17-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
“It was sweet to be able to do that at the line of scrimmage,” Wentz said. “[I] got that linebacker out there in space and played with his eyes a little bit, and obviously Greg came down the sideline and did a great job. That was a big play for us.”
The Eagles’ defense played incredibly, holding the Cowboys to three field goals and shutting them out of the end zone.
“It’s us against the world, 7-7, who believed in us,” Brandon Graham said. “Nobody believed in us.”
Brandon Graham says there’s a lot of guys “hungry to let people know their names”
…sounds like he’s reminding us that the hungry dog runs faster 🤔🦅🐶 pic.twitter.com/QU6LVuackf
— Alyssa Adams (@AlyssaAdams215) December 23, 2019
Pederson gave credit where it was due, saying defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had a great game plan and week of preparation.
The defense knew what to expect after the Cowboys rushed for more than 250 yards last week against the Los Angeles Rams.
“Being able to at least shut that down to some degree, it’s a pride thing each week. This is a great offense. They can score points. To keep them out of the end zone, hold them to three kicks like they did, stop them on some fourth downs, hats off to the defense,” Pederson said.
Graham says the defense knew they had to stop running back Ezekiel Elliott to get the win and that’s just what they did.
“We didn’t let him get going. We didn’t let him do his little signature eat move, whatever he do. We said we weren’t letting him do that on this field today,” Graham said.
. @brandongraham55 says they weren't going to let #EzekielElliott do his "little signature eat move" today. The @Eagles held Elliott to 47 rushing yards. https://t.co/Ei49SancGy pic.twitter.com/oM61zUHRDK
— CBS Philly (@CBSPhilly) December 23, 2019
The Birds held Elliott, who had averaged 114.8 yards rushing in five games against the Eagles, to just 47 yards on 13 carries.
Some Eagles players used the win to do a little trash-talking.
“Dak Prescott said that’s easy, right?” Nigel Bradham said as he headed into the locker room.
And Graham came running through the tunnel calling out the reporters who chose the Cowboys to win. (Watch the video above)
“I guess Jason Garrett has to go take an Uber home,” Graham yelled.
The Eagles are excited to be in control of their own destiny as they head to East Rutherford, New Jersey next Sunday to face the Giants.
“We have to go win one more,” Wentz said. “We haven’t won nothing yet, but we’re excited for the opportunity. It’s in our own hands to go take it, and we’re excited for it.”