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ARLINGTON, TX — There was likely no one on Earth who loves football that was not handcuffed to their device on Sunday evening when the Dallas Cowboys took on the Philadelphia Eagles in their 2023 rematch. After all, two frontrunners for MVP were battling for supremacy in the NFC East, namely Dak Prescott and Jalen Hurts, and what a battle it was.
Not for the Eagles, though.
It was one Philly was never truly in, however, or at least not until the Cowboys' offense allowed them to get their first touchdown of the game — via a forced fumble recovered and run into the end zone — but that wasn't until the third quarter.
It never felt like the Cowboys weren't in control of the fight, and that they could've put it away at any point, and they eventually did on what was a night of great defense and offense that made just enough big plays … along with plenty of butter.
Dak Prescott, QB
The conversation to not only put Prescott in the MVP race but to have him as the frontrunner over all comers just hit fever pitch. Other than one or two throws that were just off of the mark in the first half, Prescott was surgical to the point of leading the Cowboys to a 24-6 advantage going into halftime. There was nothing the Eagles secondary could do to stop him and his weapons as he again showed just how explosive Dallas can be this season, and especially when playing on their home turf at AT&T Stadium.
Brandon Aubrey, K
Just call him Butter because he's that smooth or, as special teams coordinator John "Bones" Fassel puts it, he's "on a roll". Aubrey continued extending his superb streak of field goals by stretching the tally to a grand total of 27 when he jogged onto the field in the first quarter to boot a 60-yarder that split the uprights and had at least five more yards of power behind it and, by the way, his 59-yarder in the third quarter wasn't exactly shabby (28th), either — also booting a 45-yarder (29th) followed by a 50-yarder (30th). It's one of the best football stories you'll ever hear of, and it's time to consider him for Rookie of the Year honors.
CeeDee Lamb, WR
One of Prescott's weapons was, of course, a usual suspect named CeeDee Lamb. The WR1 in Dallas continues to prove he's borderline indefensible or, as Micah Parsons would say, he's "unf*withable" when he gets going and, once again, Prescott and head coach Mike McCarthy made sure he did. The All-Pro wideout had 65 yards and a touchdown before halftime, on five catches, and his production applied stress to an already questionable secondary that then had to figure out how to stop Lamb and everyone else (spoiler: they couldn't).
Jake Ferguson, TE
Soon, and very soon, I'm going to have to check to make sure that's not Ezekiel Elliott wearing the 87 jersey during games — presumably flying in from Boston each week to squeeze in some reps for the Cowboys. Once upon a time, whenever you witnessed a hurdle, it was Elliott doing the flying. Nowadays, however, it's Ferguson who continues to be an absolute YAC monster for Prescott and the Cowboys. He not only led the team in receiving yards against the Eagles in Week 14, with more than one catch being added to his highlight reel, but his posterization of Kelee Ringo baptized the rookie in the waters of Lake Minnetonka for all to bear witness.
Donovan Wilson, S
The offense weren't the only ones who came to play big boy football on Sunday night. The defense in Dallas was mostly a sight to behold, holding Jalen Hurts and his stable of weapons to only six points before halftime and that included forcing and recovering a fumble as the Eagles threatened to put points on the board on their first drive. Wilson was responsible for the fumble and the recovery, as he shows he's finally getting back to prime form and that Hurts will give the ball away — something he's done quite a bit of in 2023.
Stephon Gilmore, CB
Not to be left out of the fumble party, Gilmore made sure to get one of his own to match what Wilson did earlier in the contest. Hurts and the Eagles' offense received the ball to start the third quarter after deferring their victory coin toss, but Gilmore didn't care. On a first-down toss to A.J. Brown to the left slant, Gilmore tackled him while punching the ball out, and it was recovered by Damone Clark. Ultimately, the Cowboys' offense wasn't able to gain any points, but their punt forced the Eagles back deep and then a punt from Philly to return the ball to the Cowboys. Gilmore said after the game that A.J. Brown called him "old", but Gilmore got the last laugh in being able to call Brown a loser.
Micah Parsons, W (Weapon)
Insert gif of Michael Jordan's flu game here, if you please. Parsons was added to the Cowboys' injury report with an illness described as the flu, but he took the field nonetheless, considering the magnitude of this rematch. He'd waste little time getting his hands on Hurts, bullying the legendary Lane Johnson — despite a missed false start and missed holding call on the play — before taking down Hurts in the second quarter. The play forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal on the drive, and Parsons proved a sick lion is still very much a lion.
Michael Gallup, WR
One word continues to describe what Gallup brings to the table: resilience. After a drop on what was admittedly a high pass from Prescott, Gallup didn't hang his head. Instead, he went on to draw a penalty from Darius Slay not long after that extended the Cowboys' drive and though they didn't get into the end zone, it gave them enough distance for Aubrey to nail the aforementioned 60-yarder to give Dallas 10-0 lead at the time. Not long after that, he grabbed a one-yard touchdown to give the Cowboys a 24-6 lead just ahead of halftime. And in case his doubters wanted more, a full-on horizontal catch for 38 yards following a recovered fumble to send the Eagles home with no feathers.
Damone Clark, LB
Speaking of fumbles, as I noted above, Clark got in on the action as well. And, in addition to that, he was once again seen playing like his hair was on fire in each of the four quarters. He didn't log his usually high tally of tackles, but he got the job done and then some. In the absence of Leighton Vander Esch, the second-year talent and former fourth-round pick was everywhere he needed to be when the Cowboys needed him to be there, period.
Markquese Bell, Malik Hooker (LB, DB)
Remember I mentioned there was a fumble party in Dallas, well there was, and both of these safeties … er … um…. linebacker (Bell) made sure they brought some food to the pot luck at AT&T Stadium. With Hurts trying his best to coordinate a scoring drive that he hoped would cut the Cowboys' lead to only 10 points with less than seven minutes to play in the contest, he tossed a quick route to DeVonta Smith who shed two tackles before Bell tracked him down from behind and jarred the ball loose with a big hit, and Hooker did the rest on a play that effectively sealed the coffin closed on the Eagles.
Rico Dowdle, RB
A hurt ankle couldn't stop Dowdle from appearing in this game, or any game prior, and it didn't stop him from returning to the field in the second half after it was aggravated during a play. The veteran running back got a healthy dose of handoffs from Prescott at the behest of McCarthy against the Eagles. He rewarded them with a one-yard touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 17-3 lead in the second quarter, and Dallas never really looked back after that — despite the offense cooling considerably in the second half.