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Game Recap: Cowboys 40, Eagles 34

Eagles vs. Cowboys
Eagles vs. Cowboys

The Eagles will have to wait another week to clinch the NFC East and home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Gardner Minshew had an outstanding performance throwing for 355 yards and accounting for three total touchdowns in place of Jalen Hurts, but the Cowboys scored 13 points in the final 5 minutes, 49 seconds to outlast the Eagles and keep their slim hopes for winning the division alive with a 40-34 victory on Christmas Eve at AT&T Stadium.

Wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith had huge games to aid Minshew. Smith posted eight catches for 113 yards – to go over 1,000 yards on the season for the first time in his career – and two touchdowns. Brown had 103 yards on six receptions. For the second week in a row, both Brown and Smith went over 100 yards.

In his first game back since Week 10 due to a shoulder injury, tight end Dallas Goedert had three catches for 67 yards.

Defensive end Josh Sweat scored his first career touchdown on an interception return of 42 yards in the first quarter that gave the Eagles a 10-0 lead. He also had 1.5 sacks, giving him 11 for the season.

The Cowboys overcame double-digit leads twice as quarterback Dak Prescott was 27-of-35 for 347 yards with three touchdowns and the interception for a 124.3 passer rating. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb had 10 catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles kept the run game in check as Ezekiel Elliott led the Cowboys with 51 yards and a touchdown on the ground while Pro Bowl back Tony Pollard was limited to 19 yards on the ground, but 61 as a receiver.

The Eagles turned the ball over four times (three in the second half) – two interceptions by Minshew, a fumble on a handoff to running back Boston Scott, and a fumble by Miles Sanders – that resulted in 20 Cowboys points.

A couple of injuries to watch coming out of this game for the Eagles: defensive tackle Jordan Davis (concussion), tackle Lane Johnson (undisclosed), and cornerback Avonte Maddox (toe) left the game early.

There is more to come, but here's the game overview:


• We didn't have to wait long to see quarterback Gardner Minshew. After opening with a Miles Sanders run, Minshew delivered two big passes to wide receiver A.J. Brown. First, Minshew hit Brown on a slant for 9 yards. On the next play, Brown beat Trevon Diggs with a slant-and-go for 48 yards to the Cowboys' 11-yard line. The Eagles ran twice with Sanders to gain 1 yard then Minshew scrambled on 3rd down for 3 yards before the Eagles settled for a 25-yard Jake Elliott field goal.

EAGLES 3, COWBOYS 0 – 11:16 remaining

JOSH SWEAT! JOSH SWEAT! JOSH SWEAT! The defensive end picks off Dak Prescott and returned it 42 yards FOR A TOUCHDOWN! Prescott rolled to his left and had tight end Dalton Schultz open, but didn't get enough loft on the pass. Sweat who was in pursuit nabbed the pass and took it TO THE HOUSE!

EAGLES 10, COWBOYS 0 – 9:18 remaining

• How does Prescott respond? He converted two 3rd downs. On a 3rd-and-5, he scrambled for 13 yards to the Dallas 43. On another 3rd-and-5, Prescott appeared to be wrapped up by cornerback Avonte Maddox for a sack, but he kept the play alive and found Michael Gallup for the first down to the Eagles' 44. Prescott used his legs again on a 2nd-and-9, rolling to his right and gaining 10 yards. Tony Pollard got the Eagles to the 1-yard line with a catch for 9 yards and a run up the middle for a gain of 8. Ezekiel Elliott got the Cowboys on the board on the next play with the 1-yard run.

EAGLES 10, COWBOYS 7 – 1:52 remaining

• Eagles turn to Sanders to start their second offensive drive, especially with the Cowboys' offense eating up nearly 9 and a half minutes of the first quarter. Sanders' second carry of the drive gained 13 yards and a first down. The Eagles have the ball to open the second quarter, facing 2nd-and-11 from their own 44.


• On the first play of the second quarter, Minshew forces a ball over the middle to Quez Watkins and it is intercepted by safety Jayron Kearse. Cowboys take over at the Eagles' 47-yard line.

• The Cowboys try a flea-flicker and Maddox flies in to sack Prescott for a loss of 10 yards. Maddox limped off after the play and went to the locker room. The Cowboys decided to go for it on 4th-and-8 from the Eagles' 45. Prescott's throw for T.Y. Hilton was incomplete, but Big Play Slay was called for illegal contact to extend the drive. Milton Williams exited the game briefly due to injury, but he came on to tackle Pollard for a loss of 4 on 1st down. But two plays later, Prescott hits CeeDee Lamb wide open on a corner route out of the slot for a 36-yard touchdown.

COWBOYS 14, EAGLES 10 – 11:34 remaining

• Dallas Goedert makes his first catch on a sail route – leaning in then turning back out – for a gain of 25 yards. Minshew follows that up with a 19-yard anticipation throw to Watkins over the middle to the Cowboys' 30-yard line. On the next play, Minshew had Watkins open for the touchdown, but the quarterback floated the ball high. On 3rd-and-5, Minshew hits Brown, who made a great job in traffic for the first down to the 18-yard line after a gain of 7. Back in the red zone, the Eagles go back to the ground, as Kenneth Gainwell runs out of shotgun to the 7-yard line. The Eagles go to Gainwell three times in goal-to-go, but he is unable to score. On 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line and Minshew does his best Jalen Hurts imitation and sneaks the ball in for the TOUCHDOWN!

EAGLES 17, COWBOYS 14 – 7:08 remaining

• Injury Update: Maddox is questionable to return with a toe injury.

• That Minshew sneak was the Eagles' franchise-record 55th touchdown of the season.

• Jordan Davis suffers an injury while colliding with Sweat on a tackle of Elliott. On 3rd-and-7, Sweat jumped offsides, and Prescott hit Lamb over the middle for a 26-yard gain to the Eagles' 35 on the free play. The penalty was obviously declined. Prescott goes to Lamb again on a slant vs. Josiah Scott out of the slot to the 10-yard line. Lamb is already over 100 yards on the day. On 3rd-and-goal, Prescott went to Gallup into the back left corner of the end zone, but the wide receiver was unable to bring it in against James Bradberry. The sun might have played a role, but regardless, the Cowboys settled for a 21-yard field goal.

EAGLES 17, COWBOYS 17 – 1:49 remaining

• The Cowboys will get the ball to start the second half.

• Injury Update: Jordan Davis is being evaluated for a head injury.

• On the first play of the drive, Minshew hung tough in the pocket and threw a ball on an out-breaking intermediate route to Goedert. Safety Donovan Wilson razed the facemask and was called for pass interference. The Cowboys nearly picked off Minshew as linebacker Anthony Barr nearly had an overthrow on a target to DeVonta Smith. Minshew made the Cowboys pay on 3rd-and-4 with a pass to Goedert for 20 yards to the Cowboys' 34-yard line. On 3rd-and-6 from the 30, Minshew was able to beat the blitz with a pass to Smith right at the sticks for the first down. As the Eagles lined up to spike the ball, Goedert was called for a false start. The Eagles use their final timeout to negate the 10-second runoff with 25 seconds left. The Cowboys brought the heat and forced three Minshew throwaways. Elliott makes the 47-yard attempt. Dallas was offsides and the Eagles declined to take the points and regain the lead.

EAGLES 20, COWBOYS 17 – 11 seconds remaining

• Cowboys take a knee to end the first half.


• The Eagles get a three-and-out for the first time on Saturday to start the second half. Linval Joseph had a key stop of Pollard on a 2nd-and-4.

• Eagles take over at own 23. On the first play, Goedert with a MOSS to take the ball away from the safety Wilson for a 22-yard gain. On 3rd-and-9, the Eagles use Zach Pascal as an extra chipper to give Minshew time to hit Gainwell on a crosser for 20 yards. Brown gets another slant from Minshew on a tough, tough grab against Mackensie Alexander. On 3rd-and-2 from the Dallas 13, Sanders gets the handoff and bounces to the right and is stopped for no gain. On 4th-and-3, the Eagles line up to go for it and MINSHEW HITS A WIDE OPEN SMITH FOR THE TOUCHDOWN! Goedert draws the attention of Diggs and Minshew, under pressure, gets the ball up and over the defense for the score.

EAGLES 27, COWBOYS 17 – 9:00 remaining

• The Cowboys run the ball three times with Elliott and face a 4th-and-1 from their own 35. Prescott pitches the ball to Elliott to the right and he gains 22 yards.

• Injury Update: Both Davis (concussion) and Maddox (toe) are OUT.

• Milton Williams comes up with a big stop on Elliott to make it 3rd-and-5 from the Eagles' 26. Fletcher Cox got pressure and Prescott had to throw it away. Prescott wanted to go to Lamb, but the Eagles bracketed the wide receiver with K'Von Wallace and Marcus Epps. Brett Maher hits from 44 yards out to cut into the lead.

EAGLES 27, COWBOYS 20 – 5:01 remaining

• Minshew and Boston Scott mess up a handoff and the ball goes down on the ground. Kearse picked up the ball up in stride and fortunately, Minshew made the tackle at the Eagles' 31-yard line with just over four minutes remaining in the quarter.

• Prescott hits Dalton Schultz for a 21-yard gain to set up goal-to-go at the 9. Josiah Scott kept Lamb from his second touchdown of the day, breaking up a pass in the end zone. On 2nd down, Brandon Graham and Ndamukong Suh combine for a sack of Prescott. Doesn't matter. On 3rd down, Prescott rolls right and throws a rope to Gallup, who was draped by Epps but came up with the grab on the sideline.

EAGLES 27, COWBOYS 27 – 2:12 remaining

• The Eagles go back to the ground to start the drive with three Sanders runs to get the first down on 3rd-and-2. Then, Minshew goes to Smith on play-action, who makes the grab despite taking a big hit, for a 16-yard gain to end the third quarter.


• After Gainwell was stopped quickly on a screen pass, Minshew rolled right and throw a dart that went through Smith's hands. On 3rd-and-10, Minshew does an unbelievable job of keeping the play alive despite pressure until Smith frees himself for 19 yards and the first down at the Cowboys' 30. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-6, Minshew hits Brown on a deeper slant for 14 yards to the Dallas 12-yard line. Malik Hooker tackled Brown at the knees and the wide receiver was slow to get up. He eventually jogged off to the sideline. After the injury timeout, Sanders takes the handoff out of shotgun to the Dallas 9. Another Sanders run sets up 3rd-and-6. Brown returns. The Cowboys bring the house and Minshew HITS DeVONTA SMITH FOR THE TOUCHDOWN!

EAGLES 34, COWBOYS 27 – 9:59 remaining

• Rookie tight end Jake Ferguson catches a short pass and puts a spin move on Kyzir White to gain 24 yards to start the drive. Then, the pass rush ignites as Haason Reddick strips the ball from Prescott, although the Cowboys recover. On the next play, Sweat comes around for a sack off the edge, his second big play of the game. On 3rd-and-30, Prescott airs it out for Hilton, who gets past Slay and Scott for a 52-yard catch on a go route. Prescott hits Pollard over the middle for a 13-yard pass to set up goal-to-go for the Cowboys. On first down, Pollard was WIDE OPEN, but wasn't expecting the ball and it fell incomplete. Would have been an easy touchdown. Doesn't matter, Prescott hits Lamb against James Bradberry on a corner route, Bradberry protected inside leverage, for a 7-yard score to tie the game.

EAGLES 34, COWBOYS 34 – 5:49 remaining

• Starting at their 22, and on the second play, OH WHAT A TOE-TAP CATCH BY SMITTY! The pass gained 23 yards along the right sideline. Two plays later, Minshew hits Sanders over the middle for a gain of 6, but Lane Johnson is down on the play. Jack Driscoll comes in. First play after is 3rd-and-4, Minshew in shotgun throws to Watkins but the ball is stripped away by DaRon Bland for the interception.

• Prescott hits Schultz and Lamb to open the drive for a combined 26 yards to the Eagles' 34. On 2nd-and-10, Prescott shoveled the ball to Noah Brown for a gain of 5. On 3rd down, Wallace comes up with a big pass breakup on Gallup. Cowboys take their first lead of the second half on a Maher 48-yard field goal.

COWBOYS 37, EAGLES 34 – 2:19 remaining

• Sanders takes the handoff and is met immediately by Micah Parsons and while trying to evade him loses the ball and it's recovered by Dallas.

• Can the Eagles keep the Cowboys out of the end zone? After a 16-yard run by Prescott to the Eagles' 5-yard line, he is sacked Sweat and Kyzir White. Two-minute warning, second down coming up for Dallas, goal-to-go from the 14. Pollard takes the pitch on second down to the left and gets to the 7. Prescott scrambled up the middle on 3rd down and T.J. Edwards made a great open-field tackle to prevent the touchdown. On 4th-and-goal from the 3, the Cowboys tried to get the Eagles to go offsides to make it a closer attempt. It didn't work and Maher kicks the 26-yarder.

COWBOYS 40, EAGLES 34 – 1:41 remaining and one Eagles timeout

• Driscoll still in for Johnson. First play goes to Pascal along sideline for 6 yards then a pass over the middle to Gainwell 15 yards to the Eagles' 46. Minshew buys time on 1st down and hits Brown on the right sideline at the Dallas 41 for another first down. Cowboys call timeout with 51 seconds remaining. Eagles still have their timeout. Minshew's first pass after the timeout was battled into the air and incomplete. On 2nd-and-10, and Smith ELEVATES to get the ball at the 19-yard line. The ball was even behind Smith! Minshew spikes on first down to keep the timeout. On 2nd down, Minshew went to Smith in the back of the end zone, but he was pushed out of bounds. On 3rd down, Parsons pressures Minshew to his left and the quarterback throws it away. On 4th down, the Cowboys call timeout. On 4th down, Minshew is pressured and throws up a prayer that is unanswered in the end zone. Game over.

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