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Spagnola: That sure is one Grade-A quality win


ARLINGTON, Texas – You wanted a quality win, let me give you a Grade-A quality win.

Cowboys 33, no-longer 10-2 Eagles 13.

You wanted domination, let me give you domination.

The Cowboys score 30-plus points for the ninth time this season, including now beating their eighth opponent by at least 20 points.

You wanted to know if the Cowboys knew how to win games like these. Let me give you the Cowboys winning their fifth consecutive game, also seven of their last eight. And now 15 straight at AT&T Stadium with the seventh of those this season right here before another rabid crowd of at least 93,000, and certainly having raised eyebrows among what promises to be a record number of eyeballs on national TV.

Worried that the moment would be too big for a team that had only beaten two opponents at the time with a winning record, the 1-0 Jets and the 6-5 Seahawks.

Forget about it. They did this in dominating fashion with the stars coming out Sunday night, including John Legend, Blake Griffin, Emmitt Smith, Ed "Too Tall" Jones and former Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer among many others just having to be here for this clash of titans.

And to all this, say hello to the NFC East first place Dallas Cowboys, but OK, not to get too far ahead of ourselves, at 10-3 they are now tied with the 10-3 Philadelphia Eagles for first place. But if you want to split hairs when it comes to current tiebreakers, the Cowboys have a half-game lead on the Eagles after splitting the head-to-head matchup yet holding a 4-1 division record advantage over the 3-1 Eagles.

Anymore questions? Demands?

Oh, and how about this? Head coach Mike McCarthy going Irish tough on you, quite impressively performing his head coaching and play-calling duties while standing on the sidelines for three hours and eight minutes just four days removed from an appendectomy surgery Wednesday afternoon that caused him to miss two days of practice in the aftermath.

And here is the scary part of the entire evening with more than 200 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders on hand to celebrate their seventh decade anniversary:

The offense, while scoring 33 points and now averaging right at 40 points over this five-game winning streak since last losing 28-23 to these Eagles the first time around, was not the sharpest, if that is possible.

Yep, that red-hot Cowboys offense left a whole lot of points scattered all over the field, with MVP-candidate Dak Prescott bemoaning his own performance, his 99.4 quarterback rating breaking his streak of six 100.0 performances in the previous seven games, while throwing for less than 299 yards (271) for only the second time in the last seven games and completing just 61.5 percent of his 39 passes facing the NFL's erstwhile ninth-ranked defense.

But hey, Dak, you did throw for two touchdowns for the seventh consecutive multiple-touchdown pass game this season. Come on, after all – and probably unknown to the drive of this former fourth-round draft choice who continues to show last year's 15 interceptions was an anomaly – you are human.

"Solid enough to get the win," was the best Dak could say. "I told you before, I'm my biggest critic. I don't think I've played, obviously, my best game. I'm a completions guy. I want to get it rolling. There was a streak down there that felt like seven-to-10 or so that were a few incompletions in a row. But then we got it going. We got it back going, and we got it back on track. Great two-minute drive (to end the half).

"Different things within the day. The defense played their asses off. Our kicker was great. (Brandon) "Butter" Aubrey was great. Yeah, so obviously we did enough to win. But I always want to be better."

But come on, Dak, what about those two touchdown passes, or the four completions for at least 26 yards, the other three at least 30 yards? Or once Jalen Carter's fumble return cut the Cowboys seemingly comfy lead to now just 11, 24-13, what about the 32-yard completion to budding star tight end Jake Ferguson on third-and-6 at your own 40, moving the team into at least field goal range? Or that honey of a throw to Michael Gallup for 39 yards to really salt this one away? Or taking the opening drive of the game 75 yards in 10 plays, finishing with the 13-yard touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb on third-and-2 from the Eagles 13?

You know, some of that?

Not buying it.

"As I talked about my performance tonight, it was good enough to win, but I hold myself to super-high standards," he said. "If I play my best game, we were putting up 50 out there, and so that's not going to change. And I'm going to keep pushing for that."

Not to worry, Dak. This is a team sport for sure. Your rookie kicker, Aubrey, cleaned up those drives coming up short, and three of those way short of the end zone. The guy you nicknamed "Butter" made four more consecutive field goals, three of those from 50-plus yards – 60, 59, 50, along with a piddling 45 – to stretch his NFL-record streak to 30 field goals made to start an NFL career.

And you know that defense that had skeptics leery of its goodness after giving up 35 points in the 41-35 defeat of Seattle last time out? Well, the defense did this to an Eagles offense usually having opponents shaking in their cleats with quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith and supposedly an unmatched offensive line:

Held the Iggles without an offensive touchdown for the first time in 95 games. Held the Eagles offense to just two field goals, the only touchdown Philly scoring was the Fletcher Cox-induced sack/fumble Carter returned 42 yards for a touchdown that momentarily slowed down this Cowboys-induced smothering avalanche.

The defense paid it forward, too, by forcing three fumbles they recovered, leading to six points. That defense held the Eagles to a mostly hollow 324 yards, Hurts to a modest 197 yards passing and knocking the smirk right off Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni's face.

"But to say I have the magic answer right now, I don't think that's realistic," Sirianni said after the Eagles second consecutive loss. "But today, what it was about, was some turnovers. And then just got to start a little bit faster."

So now the Cowboys, Eagles and 49ers are locked at 10-3 with the best records in the NFC along with the AFC's Ravens. And even though the Cowboys are riding that five-game winning streak, they likely will need some help to win the NFC East since the Eagles have the easiest four-game closeout in the NFL while the Cowboys' next three opponents all have winning records.

But confidence should be soaring.

"I mean, it's definitely an important victory. These division games are so difficult, always have been, regardless of the year," McCarthy said, admitting he had a little more angst heading into the game than post-op soreness since he was taken out of his normal week routine.

"We understand when you get to double-digits, you know, 10 wins, 11 wins, really gives you a clearer picture of what you need to get done.

"You want to be playing your best football in December, and we got off to a good start."

Yes, it is December, and I'll say, so far passing all these tests, answering all these questions with flying colors.

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