There's nothing quite like Monday Night Football in front of a sold-out, raucous crowd against one of your fiercest rivals. The passion, the intensity. This was NFC East football.
And the Dallas Cowboys gave them their money's worth in the prime-time showdown, dominating early to take a commanding lead and run away with a 41-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Through the first half of play, Dallas had more first downs (19) than the Eagles had run total offensive plays (18). The Cowboys reached the end zone on three of four trips into the red zone in the first two quarters and had outgained the visitors 261 yards to 121. That led to a 20-7 advantage at the break that Philadelphia could never overcome.
Using the one-two running back punch of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, the Cowboys were able to grind out 160 rushing yards overall in the game, the perfect complement to Dak Prescott's effort through the air. The quarterback threw for only 238 yards, but completed 80.8 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions for an impressive 143.3 passer rating.
Coming into the night, though, the concern was on the other side of the ball where injuries have ravaged the Cowboys' defensive line. But despite the Eagles totaling 367 yards of offense, they were mostly empty yards as Dallas limited Philadelphia to only 12 first downs, a 33 percent conversion rate on third downs and just 63 yards rushing.
The youngsters stepped up for coordinator Dan Quinn, as rookie Osa Odighizuwa earned his first career sack with two quarterback pressures and four tackles. He was joined by fellow rookie Micah Parsons, who had a quarterback pressure along with a tackle for loss, pass defensed and four tackles. Second-year man Trevon Diggs recorded yet another interception with three passes defensed while rookie Chauncey Golston, in his first NFL game, finished up with three solo tackles.
The Cowboys didn't waste any time getting on the scoreboard, needing just over 3 minutes on their first possession to reach the end zone. A 44-yard bomb from Prescott to CeeDee Lamb did the real damage, setting the team up at the Eagle's 1-yard line. Elliott then bulled his way in for the points and in the process moved into sole possession of third place in Cowboys history for rushing touchdowns (48).
In a strange sequence of events, though, Philadelphia soon tied it. Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown intercepted a Jalen Hurts pass at the Cowboys' 1-yard line, ending that threat. But just two plays into the Dallas series, Prescott was strip-sacked in the end zone with the fumbled ball bouncing off players and into the arms of nemesis Fletcher Cox for the Eagles touchdown.
Dallas appeared to have a second score late in the quarter when on fourth-and-goal, Prescott tried to sneak his way in. But although on replay the ball appeared to cross the goal line, the officials on the field ruled Philadelphia had made the stop.
No matter. After the Cowboys defense forced the Eagles to go 3-and-out, Prescott and company took over at the 50-yard line and 6 plays later got their points. It was the Pollard and Dalton Schultz show this time as the former rushed four times for 24 yards with the latter adding two catches for 31 more. The last of those was a 19-yard touchdown grab to five Dallas the lead for good.
The Cowboys took possession as the second frame got underway and simply lined up the road graders and manhandled the Philadelphia defense. Over a 13-play, 65-yard drive that ate up 7:50 of clock, the combination of Elliott and Pollard chewed up 42 rushing yards running right up the middle, the last of which was a bull rush by Zeke into the end zone from 3 yards out. Not that it meant a whole lot in the overall outcome, but Greg Zuerlein did miss the extra point, his second time doing so on the young season, putting the Cowboys up 20-7 at the half.
Whatever hopes the Eagles had of striking back quickly as they took possession to open the third quarter were quickly squashed when the cornerback Diggs stepped in front of a Hurts pass for the interception. Even better, he ran it back untouched 59 yards for his first career touchdown. With his pick, Diggs became the first Cowboy to intercept a pass in the first three games of a season since Everson Walls did so in 1985.
But in typical NFC East rival-game fashion, the Eagles weren't going to go down quietly. Not yet at least. Midway through the quarter, the visitors started at their own 90-yard line and went the distance in eight plays. Hurts connected with wideout Quez Watkins for 41 yards and then found tight end Zach Ertz for another 27. Three plays later, Ertz was open in the end zone for the 3-yard touchdown pass.
That fleeting Eagles momentum certainly didn't last long. The Cowboys capped off a lengthy 12-play, 61 yard drive early in the fourth quarter by going for it on fourth-and-goal at the Philly 2-yard line. Prescott rolled to his right, couldn't find Lamb open, but stayed patient and threw a dart to Cedrick Wilson in the back of the end zone for the score.
Schulz would then record the first multi-touchdown game of his career with a nifty catch and run, weaving his way 22 yards for the score. He became the first Cowboys tight end with at least two touchdowns since teammate Blake Jarwin had three at the New York Giants on Dec. 30, 2018.
The Eagles would add one last meaningless touchdown, a 15-yard scoring catch by Greg Ward with just over three minutes remaining, but it was far too little, too late. Dallas improving to 2-1 on the season.