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Spadaro: 12 takeaways from an absolutely WILD win over the Cowboys

A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith
A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith

It was everything anyone would have wanted with Dallas in town for Sunday's huge NFC East game at Lincoln Financial Field. It was a slugfest, a high-intensity game, and one that ended with the Eagles on top, 28-23, making an incredible last-possession defensive stand for the ages.

"You aren't going to see another one like for a long time," said linebacker Haason Reddick, pausing to catch his breath as he left the field following the win that pushed the Eagles to 8-1 heading into their bye week. "It was unbelievable out there and fortunately we prevailed."

Here are some takeaways from another classic in the best rivalry in all of sports (biased opinion) ...

1. Let's begin by looking at the incredible last drive because you may never see another one like it. Dallas has the football at its 14-yard line after an excellent 55-yard punt by Braden Mann is downed. There are 46 seconds remaining and Dallas has no timeouts. Quarterback Dak Prescott loads up and throws down the left sideline for wide receiver Michael Gallup, and cornerback James Bradberry is penalized for pass interference. Dallas ball at the 50-yard line. Prescott then completes a 10-yard pass to tight end Jake Ferguson and another 15 yards are tacked on as Haason Reddick is penalized for roughing the quarterback. Dallas ball at the 25-yard line, 32 seconds remaining. Prescott completes a throw to wide receiver CeeDee Lamb to move the ball to the 11-yard line. The Lincoln Financial Field crowd is going crazy, notwithstanding any heart conditions in the stands.

Dead-ball penalties against both teams position Dallas at the 11, first down. Defensive end Josh Sweat penetrates and sacks Prescott for a loss of 11 yards and the clock is ticking. Prescott throws incomplete deep in left corner of the end zone and Dallas is down to its last play. First, a delay of game penalty on the Cowboys. Five seconds remaining. Dallas has the ball at the 27-yard line, and Prescott completes a throw to Lamb at the 4-yard line running a crossing route and he is immediately engulfed in defenders and tackled. The ball pops loose and safety Reed Blankenship emerges with the ball, a huge smile on his face, holding the ball close to his face and celebrating.

There is dancing and celebrating for a few seconds on the sidelines and the crowd is as loud as it has ever been and it ... is ... over.

2. Once again, the Eagles opened the game in style. After holding Dallas to a three-and-out series, the offense took over and, for the eighth time in nine games, the Eagles put points on the board on their first drive. And what a drive it was – 13 plays, 77 yards, 7 minutes and 31 seconds off the clock. The Eagles twice went for it on fourth down, once on a fourth-and-short at their 32-yard line that they converted on a Jalen Hurts Brotherly Shove, and then on fourth-and-3 at the Dallas 27 that Hurts converted on a 15-yard corner route throw to tight end Dallas Goedert. Running back Kenneth Gainwell turned the corner to score on a 12-yard scamper. The drive was just so perfect, balanced, confident. Hurts completed 6 of 7 passes for 69 yards, with wide receiver A.J. Brown catching 4 passes for 46 yards. The running game produced 21 yards on five carries. The offensive line, with rookie Tyler Steen starting at right guard, was outstanding. Just a fantastic way to start a game and get the crowd even more juiced.

3. After Dallas took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, the Eagles put together a really nice touchdown drive that started on the 40-yard line after Dallas kicked off out of bounds. Hidden yards were a big part of this game, starting with a Cowboys 52-yard kickoff return by KaVontae Turpin that set Prescott up at the Dallas 47-yard line. Then this opportunity for Hurts and the offense, and he made sure to make the Cowboys pay. A 19-yard completion to DeVonta Smith moved the Eagles into Dallas territory and then D'Andre Swift went in motion and took a shovel pass from Hurts to gain 20 yards. Four straight runs and a 5-yard completion to Brown gave the Eagles a first-and-goal situation at the 5-yard line and on a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Hurts plowed ahead for the score on another Brotherly Shove and after Jake Elliott's PAT, the game was tied 14-14. Hurts set the franchise record for most career rushing touchdowns by an Eagles quarterback with 33, surpassing the previous mark of 32 set by Randall Cunningham.

4. Penalties hurt the Eagles in the first half. They were whistled 5 times for 30 lost yards, uncharacteristic of a team that entered the game ranked second-best in the NFL with 4.6 penalties and 36.3 lost yards per game. Total for the game: 10 penalties, 98 lost yards. Dallas also was penalized 10 times for 83 lost yards.

5. This is why you want to defer at the start of the game: To get the ball first in the second half. The Eagles had a chance to put points on the board at the end of the first half, but their offensive possession failed and every Eagles fan wondered about Hurts and his left knee as he limped off the field late in the second quarter. The offense opened the second half at their 40-yard line and drove 60 yards on 6 plays, scoring on a perfect 29-yard pass to the left side to wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who had a step on cornerback DaRon Bland. Hurts dropped the ball in perfectly and Smith made an over-the-shoulder catch and got both feet inbounds, including some sweet toe drag, and the Eagles had a lead at 21-17 after Elliott's PAT. The drive began with two Rashaad Penny runs that gained 8 yards, his first action since Week 2 against Minnesota.

6. There were a lot of key moments in this game, but the drive that gave the Eagles a 28-17 advantage late in the third quarter was as big as any of them. The Eagles used 11 plays and 3 penalties – all on Dallas – to drive 87 yards, consuming 6:18 off the clock. The big play was a completion to Goedert and a run down the sidelines that gained 28 yards and ended with Goedert out of the game with a forearm injury. The Eagles had a first down at the Dallas 13-yard line and then a Hurts run and a Dallas penalty put the ball at the 4-yard line. A Swift carry went for no yards, and on second-and-goal, Brown lined up in the right slot in a wingback position, went in motion to his left, and then Hurts hit him in stride as he continued toward the sideline. Brown caught the pass, turned upfield, and sliced into the end zone for the touchdown, taking an alley-oop pass from Smith in the end zone for the celebration and, after Elliott's PAT, a double-digit lead.

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.

7. Then again ... the Eagles' defense made a stop with 10:10 remaining on the clock, on the 2-inch line when, on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line, Prescott completed a pass to tight end Luke Schoonmaker against an all-out blitz. Blankenship was right there, made the tackle after the reception, and Schoonmaker was ruled, after officials originally called it a touchdown, down just short of the goal line. It was a huge stop and, as they say, it's a game of inches, so you have proof right there.

8. And the "game of inches" thing came into play on the Cowboys' next possession after they scored a touchdown and went for two points. Prescott scrambled right and ran for the end zone, reaching out to the pylon with the ball. He was originally credited with the two-point conversion, but he clearly stepped out of bounds just, you guessed it, inches short of the goal line and it was 28-23 instead of 28-25.

9. Turnovers and the red zone. It's discussed here all the time. Well, it mattered in this game. The only turnover of the game came on the final play, so it really didn't matter. But being even in that category gives you a real chance to win. And so the Eagles did that, and they were also great in the red zone with three touchdowns in three trips offensively, and by holding Dallas to three touchdowns on five red zone trips.

10. Big effort by an exhausted defensive line, which registered five sacks of Prescott and limited Dallas to 73 rushing yards on 21 carries. Dallas came into the game averaging 28.1 points per game, and scored 23. That's a big win for the Eagles. And here's a shoutout to defensive end Brandon Graham, who recorded 1.5 quarterback sacks to lead the effort up front. A deep rotation helps in crazy fourth quarters like this one, when the Eagles' offense had three possessions that ended in Mann punts (he averaged 51.8 gross yards on five punts and netted 47.2 yards, absolutely huge). The defense was on the field for more than 11 minutes of that fourth quarter and had the energy to mount a remarkable last-minute stand.

11. And that brings us to the bye week. Ready for some rest?? Next up: at Kansas City in three Mondays from now.

12. A look at what this win means: The Eagles are 8-1 and Dallas is 5-3 with a relatively light schedule ahead (playing Giants, Panthers, Commanders, and Seahawks before hosting the Eagles on December 10). That two-game lead in the loss column looms large in the two-team battle for NFC East supremacy.

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