Dec 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) makes a touchdown catch over Philadelphia Eagles safety Marcus Epps (22) during the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Cowboys take down top dog at home with dramatic win over Eagles 40-34
Cowboys 40, Eagles 34
This game was sure to give Cowboys fans a nice scare before Christmas as Dallas squeaked by the one-loss Eagles 40-34 in Dallas.
This was as evenly matched as the Cowboys have been all season. The game consistently went back and forth despite Philadelphia holding the lead for most of the day. Dallas finally surged back with the help of two Philly turnovers to take the lead and never give it back.
Both teams were similar statistically. Both had over 400 yards of offense, 25 first downs, similar third-down conversion rates, and they were close in time of possession. However, the key to the game was turnovers. Eagles backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, who was playing for the injured Jalen Hurts, threw two interceptions to go along with two fumbles from Philadelphia tailbacks. With that said, Minshew looked like a starter completing 25-of-40 passes for 355 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for a touchdown on a QB sneak.
Eagles wide receivers DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown both caught for over 100 yards against a depleted Dallas secondary. They took advantage of the lack of pressure Dallas could get on the quarterback. The team once leading the NFL in sacks has struggled to create pressure the past three weeks.
Dak Prescott made a costly mistake early in the game, throwing a pick-six on his second pass play of the game. However, from then on, he was nearly perfect. Dak finished 27-of-35 for 347 yards with three touchdowns and one pick. As a result, Ceedee Lamb had another big day putting up ten catches for 120 yards and two scores. Perhaps the biggest play of the game came from T.Y. Hilton, who caught a massive 52-yard bomb for his only catch of the game when Dallas was in dire need. His first Cowboys catch came on third-and-30 with Dallas down a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles would start with the football and immediately find the scoreboard. Backup Gardner Minshew would lead a seven-play drive spearheaded by a 48-yard strike to A.J. Brown that would result in a 25-yard Jake Elliott field goal giving them a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter. The Dallas defense held strong following the big play.
Coming into the game, there were concerns about Dak Prescott’s ability to protect the football, as he has thrown ten interceptions since coming back. It took just five offensive plays for Dak to throw another one. This time, Dak did not get enough under the football on a screen pass intended for Dalton Schultz, resulting in a Josh Sweat pick-six giving the Eagles a 10-0 early in the game.
Momentum would shift in the Cowboys’ direction on their next drive as they find the scoreboard for the first time. After a 14-play drive, Ezekiel Elliott would punch in a one-yard touchdown cutting the Philadelphia lead to 10-7 with just under two minutes to play in the first quarter.
Despite the plethora of injuries, the Dallas defense continues to make big plays when they matter. On Philly’s next drive, Jayron Kearse would pick off Gardner Minshew at around midfield, giving the Cowboys the ball back at the start of the second quarter.
The Cowboys would cash in on the interception with another touchdown. A seven-play drive would result in a 36-yard touchdown strike to Ceedee Lamb, giving Dallas a 14-10 lead early in the second quarter.
Philadelphia would answer back on their next possession with their first offensive touchdown. They would lead a ten-play drive 75 yards down the field, resulting in a QB-sneak by Minshew to give Philly a 17-14 lead with seven minutes left in the half. Despite the strong resistance by Dallas at the goal line, the Eagles are among the best in those short-yardage situations.
Dallas would tie the game on their next drive with a short field goal. After leading a 13-play drive to the three-yard line, the Cowboys would have to settle for a 21-yard Brett Maher field goal tying the game at 17-17 with just under two minutes to go in the half. Ceedee Lamb would accumulate four catches on that drive.
To close the half, the Eagles would tack on three more points to take the lead. In the two-minute drill, Philly would lead an 11-play drive ending in a 47-yard field goal, giving them a 20-17 lead at the half.
To this point, Ceedee Lamb had eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown as the leading receiver in the game. Dak Prescott had just two incompletions on 18 attempts, with the early interception.
The second half would start with a costly penalty for Dallas as a holding call would pull back a strong KaVontae Turpin kickoff return that would have taken them to midfield. They would fail to convert after the penalty and punt the ball away, where Philly would extend the lead.
The Eagles would lead a ten-play drive on their next possession ending in a wide-open touchdown from Minshew to DeVonta Smith, extending their lead to 27-17. The touchdown came on fourth down on a broken coverage from Trevon Diggs, who had multiple over the course of the game.
Dallas would respond on their next drive, making it a one-score game with five minutes to go in the third quarter. The nine-play drive would result in a 44-yard field goal cutting the Eagles’ lead down to 27-20.
The Dallas defense would come up big with another turnover as they recovered a fumble off a bad handoff from Minshew to Boston Scott, giving the Cowboys the ball back at the Philadelphia 31-yard line. Five plays later, Dallas would even the score with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Dak to Michael Gallup, tying the game at 27-27 with just over two minutes to play in the third.
Philly’s next drive would leak into the fourth quarter and would end in another touchdown. The Eagles would put together another long drive, this time with 13 plays ending in DeVonta Smith’s second touchdown. A nine-yard touchdown from Minshew to Smith would give the Eagles a 34-27 lead with ten minutes to play in the game.
The drama would continue on the next Dallas possession, where they would even the score with a handful of explosive plays. The seven-play drive would be saved by a 52-yard bomb to T.Y. Hilton that came on third-and-30, essentially keeping Dallas in the game. Four plays later, Dak would find Ceedee Lamb on a seven-yard touchdown to tie the game 34-34 with under six minutes to play.
Another Philadelphia turnover would give the Cowboys some much-needed additional life. An interception by DaRon Bland would give Dallas the ball back at the Dallas 40-yard line. From there, the Cowboys would move the ball to the Philadelphia 29-yard line, where they would connect on a 48-yard field goal giving Dallas a 37-34 lead with just over two minutes to play.
On the first play of Philadelphia’s next drive, Miles Sanders would cough up the football where Anthony Barr would recover it and gave Dallas the ball back at the Philly 21-yard line. The Cowboys would eventually settle for a 26-yard field goal extending Dallas’ lead to 40-34 with 1:41 left in the game.
The Dallas defense would keep the Eagles out of the end zone, sealing the win for the Cowboys on Christmas Eve in Dallas. It was the Dallas pass rush that put pressure on Minshew on the final play forcing an errant throw to end the game.
Dallas improves to 11-4 as they prepare to head on the road for their final two games. They end the season at Tennessee and at Washington.
The Eagles, who drop to 13-2, will finish the season with two home games against the Saints and the Giants.