ARLINGTON, Texas – Third-and-7 from the Philadelphia 15-yard line, two minutes remaining in overtime. The Eagles needed a stop to get the ball back to work some magic. One stop. One play.
Didn't happen, although cornerback Rasul Douglas did everything right to try.
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott threw to wide receiver Amari Cooper one final time and Douglas tipped the throw and the ball bounced right into the hands of Cooper at the 7-yard line. Cooper walked into the end zone for his 10th catch and third touchdown as the Cowboys won in overtime, 29-23, on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
Such a shame for an Eagles team that played with urgency and grit and heart.
"I played it perfectly. I got my hand in there – I couldn't get my other hand around to get the pick – so I tried to bat it down. The ball went in the air and Amari Cooper (10 receptions, 217 yards, three touchdowns) made a play," Douglas said. "I smacked the ball down as I was going down to the ground. Sometimes, it just happens. That's part of the game. He was making plays all game so …"
So, it's a painful one to digest. This was a marvelous football game, save the final result. The Eagles dug themselves out of a 9-0 hole on the strength of a defense that, despite more injuries that thinned out the cornerback corps more when Sidney Jones once again injured his hamstring, played tough football and produced three takeaways. The offense, desultory for the first half and for much of the third quarter, turned it on behind quarterback Carson Wentz in the fourth quarter, fighting from behind with 17 points – including two touchdown passes from Wentz and a field goal from Jake Elliott, who earlier missed a PAT that, of course, proved costly at the end of the crushing day.
But it was Cooper who proved to be too much for the Eagles to handle. He caught 10 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns against Douglas, Sidney Jones, and De'Vante Bausby, who just couldn't keep up with Cooper's speed down the field or his ability after the catch. Prescott completed 42 of 55 passes for 455 yards and the three scores against the Eagles' beleaguered secondary.
"He's a good player," Douglas said of Cooper. "He's a good, explosive player. They put him in position to make plays and he makes them."
Cooper was one huge weapon for Prescott, and so was running back Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 113 yards on 28 carries and added 12 receptions for 79 yards.
The Eagles are now 6-7, two games behind the Cowboys in the NFC East race, and, while in the muddle of the conference's playoff picture, have a tough road ahead with a prime-time road game at the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, followed by a home game against Houston, and a regular-season closer at Washington.
In this one, the Eagles gave it everything they had. Another slow start offensively put the Eagles in "chase" position and they came back, cutting the nine-point deficit to 9-6 after a Corey Graham interception set up the offense at the Dallas 2-yard line midway through the third quarter and Wentz threw quickly to Alshon Jeffery on the left side and Jeffery bulled into the end zone. Late in the quarter, Michael Bennett sacked Prescott and forced a fumble that Brandon Graham recovered and the Eagles drove 47 yards in 10 plays, stalling out after setting up with a first-and-goal situation from the 8-yard line and needed an Elliott field goal to tie the game.
Then it got crazy.
Dallas answered with a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a Prescott-to-Cooper 28-yard touchdown pass against a hobbled Jones, but the Eagles kept fighting and a Wentz touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert, along with the PAT, tied the game at 16-16 with 3:12 remaining in the game.
The Cowboys struck right back, as Prescott threw deep for Cooper on the right side working against Bausby and the catch-and-run covered 75 yards for the score and a lead. But the Eagles wouldn't quit, even after the referees took away a Wentz-to-Goedert 75-yard touchdown catch-and-run, a spectacular play from Goedert who was called for a very questionable pass-interference penalty.
Wentz kept pushing, though, and the Eagles drove 75 yards on six plays, the biggest a 42-yard connection to Nelson Agholor to the 2-yard line. Wentz found Darren Sproles, who made a nifty run to complete a 6-yard touchdown play for the tying points.
The defense held to force overtime, but Dallas took the opening possession and moved the ball steadily down the field, converting two third downs and a fourth-down play to win the game as they did in 2016 to beat the Eagles in overtime.
"We just couldn't get off the field in overtime," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "It sucks. We played hard. I thought we got after the quarterback and we battled. But we just didn't get off the field enough."
"We have to keep playing hard and we have to find ways to win," tight end Zach Ertz said. "We have to finish strong. We haven't started games the way we want all season long, it seems. We've been playing from behind too much. We can't do that. It's cost us too many times."
Dallas is in the driver's seat with a two-game lead in the NFC East. The Eagles have to win at least two of three and maybe all three of their remaining games to find their way to the postseason. All of that talk seemed distant in the solemn locker room after the game.
"It's just a tough position to be in," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "We're playing hard, we're right there, and then we're not closing it out. That's kind of been the story of our season."
Take a look at the best photos from the Eagles' game against the Dallas Cowboys.