Are there moral victories in the NFL? If so, maybe the Dallas Cowboys have something to build upon after battling to the very end in Philadelphia.
If not, well, then simply chalk another one up in the loss column as Dallas was unable to overcome its own mistakes in falling to the rival Eagles, 28-23. In doing so, the Cowboys not only dropped further behind in the chase for the NFC East crown, but again failed to prove they could come out victorious against one the league's top teams.
When playing the best, there is simply no room for errors, be they mental or physical. And unfortunately, the few Dallas did make proved costly.
In a battle of marquee quarterbacks, Dak Prescott finished with 374 passing yards, his highest total since Nov. 25, 2021 against the Las Vegas Raiders. He also threw for three touchdowns with no interceptions for a 115.2 passer rating.
CeeDee Lamb again starred in that aerial attack, posting a career-high in receiving yards for the second week in a row, this time totaling 191. Tight end Jake Ferguson also proved to be a dangerous security blanket for Prescott, picking up 91 receiving yards, a personal best for him as well, with a touchdown.
On the other side of the ball, the Dallas defense kept Prescott's counterpart, Jalen Hurts, from being quite as spectacular, but he did finish with 207 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 130.2 rating. Philadelphia also racked up 109 rushing yards compared to the Cowboys' 73.
In all, Dallas outgained the Eagles, 406 yards to 292, and converted 40 percent of its third-down tries and 60 percent of its fourth-down efforts.
The game certainly didn't get off to the kind of start the Cowboys wanted, as Dallas went three-and-out on the game's opening drive while the Eagles responded with a 13-play, 77-yard series that included Philadelphia twice moving the chains on fourth down. The second of those came at the Cowboys' 27-yard line and was immediately followed by running back Kenneth Gainwell darting off right tackle before diving across the goal line for a 12-yard score.
However, Dallas responded, thanks in part to KaVonate Turpin returning the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to get the team started at its own 47. The Cowboys later converted a fourth-and-1 of their own at the Eagles' 33-yard line, Prescott connecting with Lamb on a 29-yard completion and then finding Ferguson on the next snap, the tight end beating the safety to the end zone to even up the scoreboard.
The Cowboys made it two drives in a row to pay dirt. And Prescott made things happen with his legs, twice scrambling out of the pocket to his right before completing a pass first to Ferguson, who raced 40 yards down the sideline, and then soon thereafter a 20-yarder to Lamb. Turpin, though, provided the touchdown, making a tough, diving catch to his left in the end zone. This came after he was given more protection for a rib injury he suffered while earlier returning a punt.
Back came the Eagles, thanks in part to Brandon Aubrey kicking the ball out of bounds to give the Eagles the ball at their own 40-yard line, which they then used to travel 60 yards on 11 plays to even things up. Linebacker Markquese Bell appeared to have recovered a fumble at the Dallas 10-yard line, but the play was ruled already down. That eventually led to the seemingly unstoppable "tush-push" on third-and-goal at the 1 with Hurts powering in for the touchdown.
The reigning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, Aubrey, continued his hot streak by splitting the uprights on a 51-yard field goal with 1:20 left in the second quarter to give Dallas the advantage at the break. In doing so, he set a new NFL record by hitting each of his first 19 career field goal attempts.
The second half got underway with a facemask penalty on the Cowboys' Rashaan Evans that again gave Philadelphia field position at its own 40-yard line. Given another gift, the Eagles worked their way to the Dallas 29-yard line where Hurts threw a perfectly placed pass to DeVonta Smith streaking into the end zone for a quick opening touchdown.
When the Cowboys then were forced to punt, the defense needed to make sure Philadelphia didn't add to its lead. They couldn't, especially when three different defensive penalties on Dallas kept the Eagles marching.
The last of those, a defensive holding call on Donovan Wilson, set up first-and-goal at the Cowboys' 4-yard line. That left it to Hurts to drop off a short pass to A.J. Brown, who then cut back and dove into the end zone to bump the home side's lead to 11.
Needing to keep pace, the Dallas offense started at its own 28-yard line and methodically worked its way down the field, using 13 plays to go 71 yards, which included converting a fourth-and-1 at the Philadelphia 15-yard line.
There would be another fourth down try, though, this on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. And while Prescott's pass to rookie tight end Luke Schoonmaker was originally ruled a touchdown, the play was overruled upon review.
With the Eagles obviously pinned in deep, the defense did its job and forced Philadelphia to punt out of its own end zone, Dallas getting possession at its own 48-yard line. Given the short field, the Cowboys needed five plays to pick up another touchdown. Prescott first hit Jalen Tolbert on a 32-yard completion down to the 2-yard line, and then after a penalty, went back to the young wideout for the needed seven yards to score.
The Cowboys went for the two-point conversion and Prescott appeared to turn the corner and reach the end zone. But again, Dallas was denied on review as the quarterback stepped out of bounds before getting the ball across the goal line.
Once the defense did its job and forced another punt, the Cowboys took over at their own 26-yard line with 4:43 remaining. Prescott quickly went to work and immediately hit Lamb for 21 yards. Continuing on, they reached the Philadelphia 29-yard line where the team faced fourth-and-8. Having to go for it with only 1:22 on the clock, Prescott's pass to Tolbert fell incomplete, the Eagles taking over on downs.
But the Cowboys would be granted one more chance, getting the ball at their own 14-yard line with just 46 seconds left and no timeouts. Prescott made it interesting when pass interference was called on his deep pass down the left sideline, which moved Dallas to the 50-yard line.
Philadelphia gifted the Cowboys more yardage when a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty was tacked on to the end of a 10-yard reception by Ferguson. A 14-yard pass to Lamb then had Dallas all of a sudden at the Eagles' 11-yard line with just 27 seconds remaining.
A flurry of penalties and an 11-yard sack, however, led to one final play with the Cowboys at the Philadelphia 27-yard line. And Prescott was able to connect with Lamb on this last desperate attempt, but alas, he was tackled at the 7-yard line, game over.