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October 30, 2016

First half observations: Eagles 13, Cowboys 10

The NFC East has been surprisingly good so far, which definitely delighted the folks at NBC who scheduled tonight's Eagles-Cowboys game for Sunday Night Football back in the offseason. There is a chance that tonight is the first of many Carson Wentz-Dak Prescott primetime matchups, and as it turned out, first place in the division is on the line.

It wasn't pretty at times, but the Eagles finished off the half strong and head into the locker room with a 13-10 lead. Here's what I saw:

The good

• Late in the second quarter, the Eagles found some success running the football, particularly with Darren Sproles. Used as more of a receiver the past few years, Doug Pederson has the 5'6", 190-pound back carrying the ball on the ground consistently (seven carries, 44 yards). And then Ryan Mathews finished off the drive on the ground:

• The Marcus Smith mini-resurgence continues. The 2014 first-round pick had two tackles and a sack:

• Cowboys fans must hate Jordan Hicks. First, he injured Tony Romo, then he had a pick-six last year in Jerry World, and tonight he picked off Dak Prescott in the end zone on what was a bad mistake by the rookie:

• Nice job by Wentz and Caleb Sturgis to get an extra three points at the end of the half.

The bad

• After a solid first drive for the Eagles defense, the Cowboys marched 75 yards down the field in five easy plays. The biggest strike was a 53-yard pass down the right sideline to Dez Bryant. Returning to the lineup for the first time since Week 3, the Pro Bowl receiver beat Leodis McKelvin in one-on-one coverage:

Then Prescott got Connor Barwin and the Eagles defense to bite hard on a seven-yard read option keeper for the touchdown:

• Ezekiel Elliott came into the game leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie, and he got off to an explosive start against the Birds, hurdling defenders and making them miss in the open field. While it remains to be seen if drafting a running back that high was a wise decision, the rookie back from Ohio State is an impressive talent. Elliott had 52 yards on eight carries.

• Carson Wentz didn't play a terrible half by any means, but the Eagles have him playing a very conservative game (17-21, 107 yards). In the second half, I would like to see the Eagles let him take some deeper drops and throw the ball down the field.

The ugly

• I do not enjoy watching Jerome Boger officiate NFL football games. Let's leave it at that.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann