ARLINGTON, Texas – Randy Gregory is becoming a weekly force rushing the passer, and perhaps the entire Cowboys defense is peaking at the right time.
In his ninth game back from an indefinite NFL suspension, Gregory had a team-high 1.5 sacks and forced three fumbles in Sunday's 37-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles – another sign of improvement from the embattled defense during this three-game win streak.
"I think it just shows how resilient we are," Gregory said. "We're hard workers. We take pride in our work. I think we've been a lot more consistent in our play."
With 1.5 sacks in Sunday's 37-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Gregory jumped into third place on defense with 3.5 sacks this season. He also became the first Cowboys player since David Irving in 2016 to force three fumbles in a single game.
Two were recovered by the Eagles. But the defense did force three more turnovers Sunday: one interception each from Anthony Brown and rookie Trevon Diggs and a fumble recovery from
Jaylon Smith (off Gregory's strip/sack on Eagles rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts) that led to a late Cowboys touchdown.
It was the defense's third consecutive game with at least three and the franchise's longest streak in six years. That's also 10 forced turnovers in the last three games after only 11 in the first 12 games.
"I think the more we play the defense, the better we are at it," linebacker Sean Lee said. "I think the communication has been great. I think the coaches have been unbelievable, continuing to show us where we can make the plays. And then there's some guys who are playing incredible."
Hurts and the Eagles' offense started hot with a 14-0 lead on their first two drives. Hurts beat Dallas with designed runs and scrambles on the opening series, then hit Desean Jackson for an 81-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second drive. In the process, the Cowboys set a franchise record for most points allowed in a season, breaking the 436-point mark set 10 years ago.
The Eagles added a field goal just before halftime for a 17-13 lead. They didn't score again.
In pitching a second-half shutout, Gregory and the defensive line were effective keeping Hurts in the pocket. Philly's second-round draft pick had five carries for 53 yards in the first half but four carries for only 16 yards after halftime.
"I think we did a good job getting after them from the front of the defense all the way to the back," Gregory said. "Corners, DBs did a good job locking up, making plays. Linebackers did a good job flowing to the ball and the D-Line did a real good job getting back there and causing chaos back there in the backfield."
For Gregory, who spent a year and a half away from the team on suspension, he's clearly finding a groove as an edge rusher in the final month of the season.
"I was joking with Tyrone (Crawford) on the sideline (that) it's probably the worst I've felt physically in a game as far as wear and tear. But you've got to keep pushing forward," Gregory said. "But as far as day to day, feeling strong, feeling like I can go out there and really play at my highest level, I've really stayed consistent with that throughout the year. Very proud of myself for that. I think in years past, I couldn't say the same. But this year, I've done a pretty good job."
Good enough to help the Cowboys extend their playoff hopes for one more week.