Out with the old, in with the new. The 2017 season that was is officially over for the Dallas Cowboys.
Bring on 2018.
There was, of course, still one more game left on the slate, as the Cowboys had to travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in their 2017 finale. And Dallas at least finished on a high note, defeating its division rivals by the paltry score of 6-0.
With nothing to play for – Philadelphia had already clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs – and temperatures in the teens, the offenses weren't particularly sharp. Neither side went past its opponent's 34-yard line until the fourth quarter, and that possession, the Cowboys' ninth of the day, led to the game's only points, a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brice Butler.
This scoring drought came despite the Eagles sitting six defensive starters and using mostly backups in the second half. Meanwhile, Dallas played to win, its starters on the field for the entire game.
The Cowboys went on to total 301 yards of offense, which included 129 yards rushing and 172 through the air. Dak Prescott completed 56.7 percent of his passes, but did not have a turnover, finishing with an 85.3 passer rating.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott, in his second game back from suspension, pounded out 103 rushing yards with another 38 gained receiving. But he came up just short of the 1,000-yard mark for the season, wrapping up with 983 yards for the year.
But this game was really about the Dallas defense, which limited the Eagles to only 219 yards of offense and just 2 of 11 conversions on third down. Philadelphia's starting quarterback, Nick Foles, only saw action in the first quarter, but he completed 4 of 11 passes for 39 yards, an interception and a 9.3 passer rating. His replacement, Nate Sudfeld, managed 134 passing yards off an 82.6 completion percentage, but he was also sacked three times. The Eagles leading rusher was LeGarrette Blount, although he ran for only 37 yards.
With the offenses struggling, a case could be made that the stars of the game were actually the punters. Chris Jones, and his counterpart on the Eagles, Donnie Jones, were certainly busy, if nothing else. Chris booted the ball eight times with four of those downed inside the 20-yard line. Donnie was asked to punt on seven occasions with three downed deep.
Of course, when you're praising punters, it's a clear sign that the game was not a particularly exciting one.
The first half came and went without either team scoring, marking the first time in the Cowboys and Eagles long history that the two failed to put points on the board through the initial two quarters. It was also the first time any game in the NFL was scoreless at the break since the 2011 campaign.
Remarkably, it continued after the break, as this became the first time in Cowboys history that the team played to a scoreless tie through three quarters. Finally, the zero was taken off the board with that fourth quarter score, which admittedly was an impressive touchdown drive. The Cowboys marched 99 yards on 12 plays to reach the end zone with the points coming on a Prescott pass to Butler on a slant. The receiver also pulled in a big 30-yard catch during the possession, finishing with a game-high 50 receiving yards.
And then Dan Bailey missed the extra point, which fit in perfectly with the rest of this game.
The only thing left at that point was whether or not the defense could pitch the shutout. The Eagles managed to cross midfield again one more time, reaching the Dallas 44, but on fourth-and-2, Sudfeld's pass fell incomplete.
With that, the Cowboys were then able to run 5:23 off the clock, Bailey getting one more try at a field goal with 16 seconds left. But the suddenly struggling kicker pulled his attempt to the left from only 23 yards out for the miss, the day's misery thankfully coming to an end.
Dallas, however, did post its first shutout victory since defeating these same Eagles, 24-0, on Jan. 3, 2010. That was also the last time Philadelphia was blanked.
With the win, the Cowboys finished the season with a 9-7 record, the sixth time in Jason Garrett's seven years as the team's head coach that Dallas has finished at .500 or better.