PHILADELPHIA – This game had just about everything you would want. A pregame scuffle, a fake punt, then big plays back and forth for both teams, capped off by a last-second defensive stop to seal the game.
But the Cowboys beat the Eagles Sunday night, 27-20 for many reasons.
Like all games, there are several plays that go unnoticed, or could be overlooked. Still, they play a huge role in the eventual outcome.
Let's look at five plays that changed the direction of this game, with a bonus play this week.
Dak survives epic scare – Early in the game, the Cowboys were pinned back to their own 8-yard line with a 3-0 lead. Dak Prescott seemed like he was zeroing in on Amari Cooper and fired a pass to the right side that likely should've been picked off. Instead, it bounced off Grugier-Hill's hands in what easily could've been a pick-six touchdown for the Eagles. Instead, the Cowboys picked up a first down and eventually punted with some breathing room.
Chido's last-second deflection - With the Cowboys leading 6-0 late in the first half, the Eagles were on the move and headed for a score, perhaps a go-ahead touchdown. On second down from the 38, Wentz had an open receiver down the sideline but lofted the ball too much, allowing Chido Awuzie to dart over at the last second to swat the ball away, setting up third down. The Eagles couldn't convert there as well and settled for a field goal. However, if that ball is caught on second down, not only do the Eagles likely score a touchdown, but the Cowboys probably wouldn't have time to score a TD of their own.
Gallup converts to set up TD – One moment, the Eagles were burning timeouts to try and get the ball back before halftime. The next minute, the Cowboys are scoring a touchdown to take a two-score lead. The big swing occurred after a third-and-15 conversion on a quick screen to Michael Gallup, who got some great downfield blocking to go 25 yards and flip the momentum. From there, Dak hit a couple of big passes and eventually scored on a QB sneak before the half.
Clement stopped for 3-yard loss – You probably remember Xavier Woods breaking up a third-down pass at the goal line early in the third quarter with the Cowboys leading by 10. However, while that was a big play, it might not happen that way if the defense doesn't stop the Eagles for a three-yard loss on first down from the 11. DeMarcus Lawrence dropped Clement for a loss, pushing the Eagles back to the 14, where they then tried some trickery with a catch and lateral that only netted six yards. On third down, Woods broke up the pass to force a field goal, keeping the Cowboys up by a touchdown, 13-6.
Zeke doesn't score on first two downs – While his 2-yard touchdown run ultimately won the game for the Cowboys, the fact it occurred on third down proved to be crucial in terms of clock management. On first down from the 9 with 4:42 left, Zeke busted through the line but only got seven yards, getting stopped at the 2. The clock ran down to 4:02 where Zeke again was stopped short for just one yard. And then, on third down, Zeke scored the touchdown at 3:22. Had he simply scored on first down, they wouldn't be able to run off nearly 75 seconds off the clock.
LVE snuffs out the screen – With the Eagles facing a third-and-2 at the Cowboys' 30 with 2:00 left, it appeared Corey Clement had room to run after a short pass from Wentz in the flat. However, Vander Esch weaved through blockers and somehow dropped him for a 5-yard loss. That led to fourth down, where the Eagles couldn't convert, giving the ball back to Dallas with 1:09 left. Had the Eagles picked up the first down, with three timeouts left, they would've been in prime position to tie the game.