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A fourth quarter to remember for the Eagles' defense
Three drives. Three stops. One quarter. One massive win.
It was the Eagles' defense that took center stage in the fourth quarter as the 5-2 Dallas Cowboys came to town.
Up 28-17 going into the final frame, the Philadelphia defense was set to be tested heavily.
With 10:10 left on the clock, the Cowboys had the ball on the Philadelphia 1-yard line. Quarterback Dak Prescott found his tight end Luke Schoonmaker for a 1-yard touchdown, or so they thought. Safety Reed Blankenship made the tackle on the goal line as the referees ruled that the ball crossed the plane.
A roar came from the 69,876 fans at Lincoln Financial Field as they saw the replay on the big screens.
What did they see? Schoonmaker's knee was down before the ball crossed the goal line. After review, the call was overturned and Blankenship, at that moment, had made the biggest defensive play of the game.
"It feels good to contribute like that," Blankenship said. "Our mindset is to get the ball in our offense's hands as much as possible, and luckily, we were able to do that."
The play before, cornerback Darius Slay and linebacker Zach Cunningham stopped Prescott at the 1-yard line as he flipped over the pair, trying to run for a score.
After a few short and unsuccessful drives from the offense and a touchdown by the Cowboys, it was once again time for the Eagles' defense to shine.
On first-and-10 from the Philadelphia 31-yard line, with 2:47 remaining, Brandon Graham made his presence known with a 7-yard sack of Prescott. This was Graham's first full sack of the season.
On the very next play, Graham got home again, this time splitting the sack with rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter.
"One play at a time," Graham said. "You do not know when your play is going to come. That is what I stress to the guys all the time. It was cool to make the plays that we needed."
"BG's been here for a long time," Jason Kelce said. "I do not think it is his most historic sack by any stretch of the imagination. He is a veteran player and in crucial situations like that, he can draw on experience. He has still got great physical ability, so yeah, those sacks were huge."
Two plays later, on fourth-and-8 with 1:22 left in the game, James Bradberry arrived on the scene.
The veteran cornerback deflected a pass away from the hands of wide receiver Jalen Tolbert, giving the ball back to the Eagles' offense and once again stopping the Cowboys from finding the end zone.
The Cowboys got the ball back with 46 seconds left in the game after forcing a three-and-out.
Just 14 seconds later, the Cowboys found themselves on the Philadelphia 25-yard line after starting on their own 14-yard line. That was thanks to a pass interference penalty on Bradberry and a roughing the passer penalty on Haason Reddick.
With 27 seconds left, Josh Sweat took flight.
The edge rusher beat right tackle Terence Steele, as Sweat and Reddick flipped sides late in the game, throwing Prescott to the ground as he tried to escape the collapsing pocket.
With no timeouts left, this pushed the Dallas offense back to the Philadelphia 22-yard line for a loss of 11 yards.
Sweat took inspiration from Graham, who, just mere minutes before, made crucial plays for the defense.
"I mean, everybody loves BG, obviously," Sweat said. "When you saw him doing it, it brought us up even higher and it brought the intensity up. I just wanted to do it for him and the rest of the guys."
With five seconds left in the game and the ball 27 yards from the end zone, the Eagles' defense had one more big play up its sleeve.
Prescott found wide receiver CeeDee Lamb at the 5-yard line, but he was quickly swallowed up by Slay and safety Sydney Brown. As Lamb was fighting for the game-winning score, Slay knocked the ball free and it was recovered by Blankenship with no time left on the game clock.
"The last drive was crazy," Slay said. "My thought process is if he catches it, you have to tackle him, knowing they had no time left. We did a great job getting him down and got the dub."
Three massive defensive stops in the fourth quarter propelled the Eagles to a win over their rivals and their eighth win of the season. – Owen Boyle
Jalen Hurts once again shows toughness, resilience in win
With just 32 seconds left in the first half, Jalen Hurts was sacked by Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons for a loss of 10 yards. Hurts took a hit to his left knee from Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on the play and limped to the sideline.
Hurts didn't miss a snap as the first half came to a close with the Eagles down 17-14. The Eagles would get the ball back to start the second half, but how would they respond? Would Hurts be, well, too hurt to execute the offense against one of the league's best defensive units in both yards and points allowed?
Hurts calmed down the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field on the opening drive of the third quarter. He showed that his wheels were good with a 4-yard scramble to convert a third-and-2 play. After a nifty shovel pass to D'Andre Swift gained 11 yards, Hurts dropped a rainbow into the end zone as DeVonta Smith hauled in the gold with a beautiful over-the-shoulder grab for a 29-yard touchdown.
The Eagles took a 21-17 lead and never trailed again, winning 28-23.
"What an incredible win and an incredible sense of perseverance and resilience from this team," Hurts said. "We still have yet to play a complete game. We're still hungry and eager to continue to grow and build upon the things that we've been able to do. Just way to show up in the end.
"Obviously, we have some things that we want back defensively, offensively, and on special teams. But it's always about finding a way. I just think the resiliency that this team played with, and the way guys were able to be disruptive towards the end of the game. Obviously, offensively, we have to be better at managing the situations at the end of the game. But all that matters is winning. That's something that I've been saying all year."
Hurts deflected any questions about his knee after the game.
"He's tough as heck. Never been on the injury report though because his play status has never been in doubt," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said. "Great leader, great player, rises to the occasion in big-time moments."
Hurts played a turnover-free game, completing 17-of-23 passes for 207 yards with two touchdowns for a 130.2 passer rating. He added 36 yards on the ground and another score for his 33rd career rushing touchdown, surpassing Randall Cunningham for the most by a quarterback in Eagles history.
"He's a resilient guy," Lane Johnson said. "As far as poise and maintaining composure, he does that every game and I feel like that's important for our offense. Throughout the game, just attack each play. Don't ride the emotions of the game."
"If things are going bad, Jalen's going to get us back on track," Smith said.
The Eagles are 25-2 (.926) in their last 27 regular-season games started by Hurts (dating back to Week 15 of 2021), including 14-1 since Week 11 of 2022. Since 2021, Hurts has registered a .769 winning percentage (30-9), which leads all NFL QBs. Including playoffs, Sirianni and Hurts have combined for a 32-11 record. According to Elias Sports, that is tied for the 5th-highest winning percentage (.744) by a head coach-quarterback tandem in their first 43 games together since the 1970 merger.
"I have this demeanor here. I have this hunger in my heart," Hurts said. "So we're sitting here 8-1. So that's a very great feeling. Yet it's about winning, but it's about the standard too. So we just want to continue to raise that standard and play to the standard. Play the type of ball we want to play." – Chris McPherson
It's not just any Dallas Week! The 7-1 Philadelphia Eagles host the 5-2 Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, November 5, 2023 in a matchup of not just the top two teams in the NFC East, but two of the best teams in the entire NFC. Check out the images from our team of photographers.
Far from satisfied, 8-1 Eagles know 'there's always room for improvement'
Head Coach Nick Sirianni likes to draw inspiration from other great coaches.
During the week, he emphasized the importance of limiting mistakes by showing a picture of the late Bob Knight sitting inside a locker room where a sign hangs from the wall that reads, "Victory favors the team making the fewest mistakes."
While there were some close calls Sunday evening, the Eagles played turnover-free football and, in fact, won the turnover battle against a Dallas team that had a +6 turnover differential, tied for fourth best in the league entering Week 9.
"When you get in big games, talent level is pretty even," tackle Lane Johnson said, noting the Bob Knight photo that Sirianni showed. "It's going to come down to mistakes less made."
Following the Eagles' 28-23 win to improve to a league-best 8-1 on the year, Sirianni decided to cite Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, a former thorn of the Eagles, having coached both the Cowboys and the Giants.
"What did Bill Parcells say? You are what your record says you are. So we're in a good spot right now and we are going to enjoy this bye week at 8-1 and get ready for the Kansas City Chiefs, who obviously are a great football team, and just continue to try to bust our butts to get better every single day," Sirianni said.
The Eagles are 8-1 for the seventh time in franchise history. It's the first time it happened in back-to-back seasons for the Eagles. Sirianni is the 11th NFL head coach since the 1970 merger to accomplish the feat (yes, Parcells is one of the 11 as well). But the Eagles are far from satisfied.
"I'm not relaxing. I gotta go to work," said wide receiver A.J. Brown, who reached 1,000 yards on the season faster (nine games) than any receiver in franchise history. He has surpassed 1,000 yards in four of his five NFL seasons. "It's on. It's on after this bye week."
"There's always room for improvement. Always room for improvement," Sirianni said. "That's our goal. Our goal, I know there will be a lot of chatter about this and that, 'Oh, now they got this lead and they have the best record.' We don't care about any of that. All we care about is how we get better to win our next game, how we rest our bodies this week, how we go 1-0 each day the following week to try to go 1-0 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"That's our mission. There is this huge mountain to climb. You can't climb the mountain all in one week. When you look up that mountain and you start to look up at how much more you have to climb, that's what makes you slip, when you do that.
"Your head has to be down, focus has to be on the mountain, focus has to be on your next step, and that will be our next practice and this week resting our bodies." – Chris McPherson