Who really expected this?
After failing to win a road game in their first four tries of the season, the Dallas Cowboys went into Philadelphia, and in front of a Sunday night prime-time audience shocked the rival Eagles with a 27-20 victory.
In doing so, the Cowboys rode their bell cow to victory, Ezekiel Elliott. The star running back carried the ball 19 times for 151 rushing yards and one touchdown, averaging an impressive 7.9 yards per carry. But he also caught six passes for 36 yards and another score, the ninth multi-touchdown game of his career.
He was joined by Dak Prescott, who shook off the doubters to complete 72.2 percent of his passes for 270 yards and a 102.8 passer rating. Even more important, he didn't turn the ball over, throwing the one touchdown with no interceptions.
The quarterback did a nice job of spreading the ball around as well, connecting with eight different receivers. The leader of the pack was newcomer Amari Cooper, who finished with six catches for a team-high 75 receiving yards.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Dallas defense was outstanding early and then held on despite tiring late. Leighton Vander Esch was a terror from his linebacking position, finishing with 13 tackles, an interception and perhaps the game-saving tackle.
Overall, the Cowboys were outgained by the Eagles, 421 yards to 410, with each side earning 23 first downs. But Dallas dominated the time of possession, holding a distinct 33:22 to 26:38 advantage.
The Cowboys went into the half with a 13-3 lead, thanks to a defense that largely stifled the Eagles at the start. Through the first two quarters, Philadelphia managed 132 yards of offense while failing to convert a third down on four tries as well as one fourth down attempt.
And the Cowboys opened the scoring after linebacker Vander Esch stepped in front of a Carson Wentz pass for his first career interception, the rookie rumbling down to the Philadelphia 38-yard line. The Dallas offense then tacked on 31 yards down to the Eagles' 7-yard line, but there had to settle for a 25-yard field by Brett Maher.
Both the team and its fans were given a scare on the series, though, when guard Zack Martin had his left knee rolled up on from behind. He was forced to leave the game and head to the locker room, but Cowboys Nation enjoyed a collective sigh of relief when the All-Pro soon returned, missing only one possession.
So Martin was on hand to help Dallas put up its next three points. Starting on their own 23-yard line, Prescott and company marched 64 yards down to the Philadelphia 4, the drive electrified by Elliott when the running back hurdled Eagles safety Tre Sullivan on his way to a 32-yard gain. Unfortunately, the star rusher didn't see the ball again inside the 10-yard line and the Cowboys had to settle for yet another field goal, the lead 6-0.
Philadelphia did narrow the score to 6-3 with a 56-yard field goal, but Dallas answered with a 75-yard drive that took only 1:14 off the clock. Prescott was masterful on the possession, completing all five of his pass attempts, which included a huge 25-yard gain by rookie wide receiver Michael Gallup on third-and-15 at the Cowboys' 35-yard line.
The quarterback then found Cole Beasley for 21 yards, Geoff Swaim for a short gain and then Allen Hurns for a 17-yard pickup to the Philadelphia 1-yard line. Prescott capped off the series with a stretch into the end zone to give the Cowboys a 13-3 lead at the half.
But in the third quarter, the tide started to turn. With the defensive depth taking a hit with tackles Maliek Collins and Daniel Ross both leaving with injuries, just like the week before against the Tennessee Titans, the Dallas defense started to wear down.
Philadelphia chipped away at the lead with a 26-yard field goal, but then after Maher sailed his next attempt wide right from 42 yards out, the Eagles had their opening to tie the game. They took advantage.
Starting at its own 32-yard line, Philadelphia went the distance on 10 plays, as the Cowboys couldn't contain Wentz and his receivers. The quarterback connected on passes of 10, 18, 12 and 15, the last of which saw tight end Zach Ertz reach the end zone to even the score at 13-13.
Meaning it was a brand new ballgame as the clocked ticked over into the fourth quarter. And what a final frame it was.
Unlike in previous games, this time the Cowboys turned to Elliott. Of the nine plays on their very next possession, the team's star running back touched the ball on seven snaps, receiving four handoffs that gained 37 yards and hauling in three passes for 17 more. The last of those was a short pass to the right side that went the final 7 yards to the end zone, 20-13.
Philadelphia came right back with a seven-play, 74-yard drive of their own, the big blow coming when Wentz connected with Nelson Agholor for a 51-yard completion down to the Dallas 1-yard line. That was followed by Ertz's second touchdown catch of the night to tie the game.
But the Cowboys had an answer of their own. Prescott completed a pass to rookie tight end Dalton Shultz for 17 yards, then found Hurns for 23 on a third-and-8 at the Eagles' 32-yard line. Now faced with another first-and-goal, this time Elliott got two straight handoffs, bullying his way for 7 yards and the final 1 to give Dallas the lead once again, 27-20.
The Cowboys defense then got the stops when they needed them most. On third-and-2 at the Dallas 30-yard line with 1:17 remaining, Vander Esch beat two tacklers to bring down running back Corey Clement for a 5-yard loss. That was followed on fourth down with Jeff Heath hitting Ertz just short of the chains to end the threat, the Cowboys taking over on downs with 1:09 remaining.
Playing conservative and content to let the Eagles burn their timeouts on defense, Dallas punted away, giving Philadelphia one more chance with 40 seconds left. And the home team quickly went from their own 32-yard line to the Dallas 41, which set up one final play. But even though Wentz hit Ertz for 23 yards to the Cowboys 9, a lateral to Golden Tate went for no gain. Ball game.
With the victory, the Cowboys moved to 4-5 on the season, still in the thick of the NFC East race, tied for second with the Eagles, two games behind the hurting Washington Redskins. Dallas next travels to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in a noon game next Sunday.