Cowboys @ Eagles
Final Score: Eagles 28, Cowboys 23
Writer: Chuck Twohig (@Chuck2E on Twitter)
This battle for the top of the NFC East gave the Cowboys and Eagles a chance to either pull within one game of each other or create some serious distance in the division between themselves. The word of the day was definitely not discipline in this one as it felt like there was a yellow flag flying through the air on nearly every play, specifically in critical situations. For example, on the final drive of the game, the Eagles committed two huge defensive penalties to give the Cowboys a short field and a chance to win.
The Cowboys also had quite a few miscues and questionable coaching decisions as this one came to a close. They went for the end zone on 4th and 1 instead of hitting a chip shot field goal. which would have made it a one-possession game, and Luke Schoonmaker came up half a foot short, yielding zero points. When Dallas scored on their next drive, Dak Prescott seemingly ran the two-point conversion into the corner of the end zone which would have made it a 3-point game, but after a closer look, he stepped out of bounds around the 2-yard line.
Now down by 5, the Cowboys required a touchdown to take the lead. Had Prescott been able to convert that 2-point attempt, they would have needed only a field goal to send this game to overtime. Such a field goal on 4th and long at the Eagles 31-yard line could have tied the game, but instead, Prescott’s desperation pass found CeeDee Lamb, but the talented receiver was tackled a few yards short of the end zone, to end the game. This one was a slugfest and exactly what we expected from two teams trying to prove they’re the team to beat in their division. Let’s break it down.
- As insane as it feels to say, Dak Prescott handed in a strong performance in a game that really mattered. I will often criticize Prescott for “hearing footsteps” in big games but he did all he could do to help his team win this one. He made smart decisions with the ball, didn’t turn it over, threw for over 350 yards and 3 touchdowns, and finished with a QBR of 72.5. Really cannot ask for much more from your quarterback.
- Much like his counterpart, Jalen Hurts did nearly everything he could to ensure his team was taking the win today. His stat line isn’t as impressive as Prescott’s, but he also did not turn the ball over, and he managed to convert the aptly coined “Tush Push” for multiple short-yardage conversions today to keep drives alive. Hurts tossed 2 TDs and ran for another while leading his team to victory.
- If you need a ball caught in Dallas, make sure it’s headed to CeeDee Lamb. He came down with 11 grabs and nearly eclipsed the double-century mark (191 total) in yardage. Lamb is clearly the top weapon in the passing game for Dallas and isn’t showing any signs of becoming less effective as the season marches forward. If Dallas is able to make a playoff run, Lamb will be a big reason why.
- A disappointing season continues for Brandin Cooks, who was targeted only twice and caught just one pass for seven yards. He was outshined by both Michael Gallup and Jalen Tolbert, not to mention KaVontae Turpin, who caught a touchdown on his only target and turned in a couple of impressive returns on special teams.
- I understand it’s a loaded backfield, but after learning that Rashaad Penny was active, it was still disappointing to see him log only 2 touches for 8 yards.
Dak Prescott: 29/44, 374 yards, 3 TD | 6 carries, 14 yards, 5 sacks
Prescott was good enough to win nearly any game with this performance. Unfortunately for him, it was not enough to win this one. Dak took back-to-back sacks that seemed like it was going to end the Cowboys chances of winning this game, but the defense was able to get the ball back quickly and give him another chance to take the lead. Thanks to some penalties by the Eagles, they were given a golden opportunity deep in Eagles territory. Unfortunately, Prescott took another sack he simply couldn’t afford to take and then drew a delay of game penalty on top of it on the next play. Prescott gets practically a bye week and near-certain win next week against a Giants team that will be without Daniel Jones, Darren Waller, Graham Gano (and really any viable option at a threat whatsoever aside from Saquon Barkley). This get-right game offers a perfect opportunity to bounce back and settle into what Dallas needs to do down the stretch.
Tony Pollard: 12 carries, 51 yards | 5 targets, 3 receptions, 12 yards
The Eagles have yet to give up 60 or more yards on the ground to a running back this season. That said, Pollard did not have an all-star performance in this one and it hurt Dallas’ chances at securing the W. Pollard does not seem to be running the way he did last season which is a major problem since Dallas let Ezekiel Elliott walk to make Pollard their RB1. He will need to make a much bigger splash in games moving forward for Dallas to be a legit contender for a spot in the playoffs and a deeper run than their typically inevitable early exit.
Rico Dowdle: 2 carries, 8 yards
Dowdle continues to be a “breather back” for when Pollard needs a break and does not currently provide much offense for the team or much value in a fantasy setting.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
CeeDee Lamb: 16 targets, 11 receptions, 191 yards
Lamb has another huge day on a typically strong Eagles defense and showed why he is WR1 in Dallas. While he wasn’t able to find the end zone, he managed nearly two football fields worth of catches. The Cowboys moved Lamb around to create mismatches. While he had a harder time when matched up against Darius Slay, Lamb simply abused the likes of Eli Ricks, Reed Blankenship, and Sydney Brown. A lost fumble put a blemish on his otherwise astounding fantasy line, but it came on the final play of the game when he was trying to make a miracle while being tackled at the four-yard line.
Jake Ferguson: 10 targets, 7 receptions, 91 yards, 1 TD
Jake Ferguson is quickly becoming a safety net for Prescott in this offense. Expect Dak to look for Ferguson on 3rd down and short to mid, or on a rollout when trying to grab some yardage when the pocket is collapsing. Ferguson’s ability to build such a rapport with Prescott this early in his career is a great omen for many yards and scores in the years to come.
Jalen Tolbert: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 49 yards, 1 TD
Tolbert got ridiculous separation on his touchdown catch making it an easy decision for Prescott on where to distribute that pass. If he can continue to get separation like that, he will emerge as a sorely needed second or third option in this passing offense.
Michael Gallup: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 19 yards
It was a surprisingly quiet day from Gallup in the context of Prescott’s 370+ passing yards; that cannot sit well with Gallup’s fantasy managers and Cowboys fans alike. His speed should give him a nice matchup next week against the Giants, especially if Adoree Jackson is not back from the concussion he sustained today. It’s important to note that Gallup’s only target that was not a catch was a big drop on 3rd down that would have kept the Cowboys’ drive alive with 1:20 left in the first half.
Brandin Cooks: 2 targets, 1 reception, 7 yards
Another game where Cooks was a non-factor. If he hasn’t hit the waiver wire in your league yet, managers are sleeping.
KaVontae Turpin: 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards, 1 TD | 1 carry, 0 yards
Luke Schoonmaker: 1 target, 1 reception, 0 yards
Hunter Luepke: 1 target, 0 receptions
Jalen Hurts: 17/23, 207 yards, 2 TD | 10 carries, 36 yards, 1 TD | 3 sacks
Hurts did exactly what he needed to do for the Eagles to leave this game still holding the NFL’s best record while going up nearly 3 games on Dallas in the division. Hurts did seem to get injured right at the end of the first half after taking a sack and ran into the locker room early (also visited the blue tent at the end of the 3rd quarter) so that may be something to keep an eye on. He was, however, able to finish out the game and secure the win. Hurts definitely seems to have built a strong rapport with his receivers and tight end, and when they aren’t open, he is making sure he gets the job done with his legs. These are all traits you want in your quarterback and leader on the field.
D’Andre Swift: 18 carries, 43 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 31 yards
Swift handled the bulk of the carries but didn’t find much room to run. His 2.4 yards per carry average was the lowest of anyone who recorded a rushing attempt for the team. He also wasn’t able to find the end zone in this one. Swift ran hard and broke out a few nice runs but was stunted right at the line of scrimmage more often than not. Not a lights-out performance by any means; hat-tip to a talented Dallas defensive front.
Kenneth Gainwell: 3 carries, 22 yards, 1 TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 1 yard
Gainwell made the most of the carries he was given and managed to turn one into the game’s first touchdown by diving into the end zone. After a few disappointing performances in recent weeks, it was refreshing to see him average over seven yards per carry, albeit on limited touches. He ran well enough to make it kind of a head-scratcher that he didn’t see the ball more often. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles distribute backfield touches next week.
Rashaad Penny: 2 carries, 8 yards
Wide Receiver/Tight End
A.J. Brown: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 66 yards, 1 TD
A.J. Brown did what A.J. Brown does. Hurts clearly has the most faith and comfortability on the field when working with A.J., and that shows in his performances each week. While Brown’s record-breaking streak of 125-yard receiving games came to an end, he remains a consistently great start for fantasy and someone Eagles fans want to see with the ball.
DeVonta Smith: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 51 yards, 1 TD
After two seasons DeVonta Smith owns two franchise records: most receptions by a rookie wide receiver, and most receptions by a wide receiver in a season, period. It’s therefore a puzzle to figure out why he has not seen the same volume of targets as Brown. However, he has scored often for this Eagles team. DeVonta has a nose for the end zone and routinely finds a way to add that 6 to his stat sheet.
Dallas Goedert: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 50 yards
Goedert is another safety net type of receiver for Hurts but he left this one in the 3rd quarter with a forearm injury. After a nice catch and run, Dallas immediately grabbed his forearm, was escorted into the tunnel for an x-ray, and did not return. There are no reports on the severity of the injury at the time of writing; hopefully, for Eagles fans and fantasy managers alike, it isn’t as serious as some fear it might be.
Olamide Zaccheaus: 2 targets, 1 reception, 8 yards