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November 05, 2023

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Cowboys game

The Eagles escaped with a big 28-23 win over the Cowboys, but almost none of it came easy.

Eagles NFL
110523JalenHurts3 Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hurts and the Eagles outlasted Dak Prescott and the Cowboys.

If you're a fan of any team other than the Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys, you probably enjoyed their matchup on Sunday evening. If you're an Eagles or Cowboys fans, you probably felt nauseous for a while after the clock finally ticked down to zero. In the end, the Eagles escaped with a 28-23 win, but holy crap it did not come easy. As always, win, lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Game of Inches (And Luck)' Award 📏🍀: The Eagles

Let's just be real — the Eagles got a ton of breaks in this game, and that's why they won. 

• They fumbled three times on offense, and recovered all three of them.

  1. Sam Williams strip-sacked Jalen Hurts, and the ball took a fortuitous bounce off of Williams' hand back into Hurts' lap. The Eagles ended up scoring a touchdown on that drive.
  2. D'Andre Swift fumbled deep inside Cowboys territory, but was able to fall on top of the ball. The Eagles ended up scoring a touchdown on that drive as well.
  3. Swift fumbled again in a "THE ONLY THING YOU CANNOT DO HERE IS FUMBLE" situation when he collided with A.J. Brown (!) on a run up the middle. With a swarm of Cowboys in the backfield, somehow Tyler Steen emerged with the football.

That is incredible luck to be able to recover all three of those fumbles.

• The Cowboys were this 🤏 close to scoring a touchdown that instead resulted in a turnover on downs because Luke Schoonmaker's knee hit the ground juuuuuust before the ball broke the plane of the end zone.

• And finally, while trying to run for a two-point conversion, Dak Prescott stepped out of bounds before he dove for the pylon. Those points ended up being extremely meaningful.

The Eagles have had their share of games in which a lot of breaks did not go their way. Luck turned back in their favor in a big way against the Cowboys.

2) The 'Hot Knife Through Butter' Award 🔪🧈: The Cowboys' passing attack vs. the Eagles' secondary

Dak Prescott was 29 of 44 for 374 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs. He connected with CeeDee Lamb 11 times for 191 yards, and TE Jake Ferguson 7 times for 91 yards and a TD.

The Eagles' defense often looked helpless trying to defend the Cowboys' passing attack, as Lamb and company were frequently wide open. The Eagles' defense was especially frustrating when they got the Cowboys into long downs and distances, as they (eventually) converted three third downs of 10 yards or more.

  1. 2nd quarter: 3rd and 14: Prescott hit Lamb for a 20-yard reception. That drive ended with a Cowboys TD.
  2. 2nd quarter: 3rd and 15: Prescott hit Lamb for a 14-yard reception, after which they converted the 4th and 1. That drive ended with a Cowboys FG.
  3. 4th quarter: 3rd and 10: Prescott hit Ferguson for 12 yards.

The Eagles' slot corners were unable to cover Lamb, the linebackers and safeties couldn't handle Dallas' tight ends, and James Bradberry really struggled in this game.

The Eagles have a lot to fix on the back end of their defense.

3) The 'Toughness' Award 💪: Jalen Hurts

Hurts took a big shot on his already injured knee from DeMarcus Lawrence during the second quarter:

Ouch. He struggled to get to the sideline after the hit, but he never showed any weakness and he never missed a snap. He continued to run with the football when necessary on his gimpy leg, even though he couldn't even slide. He also continued to deliver from the pocket, most notably this outstanding dime to DeVonta Smith for a third-quarter TD. 

Hurts, postgame:

Those aren't empty words. Hurts is a true, badass leader.

4) The 'Closer Part I' Award 🔒: Brandon Graham

On the Cowboys' second-to-last drive of the game, Brandon Graham had sacks on consecutive plays. The first was on an inside move against Cowboys RT Terence Steele:

He then beat Steele again inside and shared a sack with Jalen Carter.

And as noted above, Prescott stepped out of bounds before diving for a two-point conversion. That doesn't happen if Graham doesn't hustle his ass off and chase Prescott from behind.

5) The 'Closer, Part II' Award 🔒: Josh Sweat

On the Cowboys' final drive, with the Eagles' clinging to a five-point lead, and roughly 99.9 percent of Eagles fans expecting the game to end in a loss, Josh Sweat made the most consequential play of the game.

Once again, Steele was the victim, as Sweat dusted him around the edge for a mammoth sack.

This was not the Eagles' pass rushers' best day, as Prescott often had a ton of time to throw, but as they do so often, they made monster plays with the game on the line. Usually, the Eagles' closer is Haason Reddick, but Graham and Sweat will borrow that title for this game.

6) The 'Big Balls Nick, And Then Not So Much' Award: Nick Sirianni

On the Eagles' opening drive, Sirianni went for a 4th and 1 at his own 32, and (surprise) the Eagles successfully converted on a Brotherly Shove. Later on that drive, he went for a 4th and 3 from the Dallas 27. Again, the Eagles converted, this time on a 15-yard completion to Dallas Goedert.

There probably isn't a coach in the NFL who would go for a 4th and 1 at his own 32 on his offense's opening drive of the game. That's the Nick Sirianni that Philadelphians can be proud of.

Late in the fourth quarter, however, Sirianni's courage shriveled up when his offense had the ball with 1:17 to play, and the Cowboys had all three of their timeouts. A first down would have ended the game, but Sirianni instead chose to run it on three consecutive plays, bleed out the Cowboys' timeouts, and then punt it away.

I don't know what game Sirianni watched all evening, but as noted above, the Eagles couldn't stop the Cowboys' passing attack all day, and as an added bonus the officials were handing out pass interference / illegal contact / defensive holding calls (on both teams) all day like candy on Halloween. I don't know how he decided that betting on his defense over his offense was the better play, but he is extremely fortunate that Sweat bailed him out, because it would've been a rough two weeks had the Cowboys scored on their final drive and won this game.

7) The 'Oh Hey, New Injuries' Award 🤕🩼: Hurts, Dallas Goedert, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, and ???

This was a physical game, and a bunch of Eagles got hurt.

Goedert suffered a forearm injury that looked pretty bad. He headed directly to the locker room after he got hurt. 

Other Eagles who got banged up: Hurts, Jordan Davis, Darius Slay, James Bradberry, and Nakobe Dean.

So... we'll see.

8) The 'Rest Up' Award 🛌: The Eagles' weary bodies on the bye week

The bye week is coming at an advantageous time for the Eagles, coming off of this emotionally and physically draining game. They will likely be getting Cam Jurgens back from injured reserve, and the long list of players with nicked up bodies will have a chance to recuperate. 

Waiting for the Birds on the other side of the bye will be the Chiefs, in Kansas City, and then the nasty part of the Eagles' schedule will continue.

• Week 9: Cowboys: W
• Week 10: BYE
• Week 11: At Chiefs
• Week 12: Bills
• Week 13: 49ers
• Week 14: At Cowboys
• Week 15: At Seahawks

But for now the Eagles can take a breath and feel good about their league-best 8-1 record.

9) The 'Cushion' Award : The Eagles' place in the NFC East

An updated look at the NFC East standings:

NFC East Record Division GB 
Eagles 8-1 3-0 
Cowboys 5-3 1-1 2.5 
Commanders 4-5 0-3 
Giants 2-7 1-1 

As you can see, the Eagles now have a 2.5-game cushion over the Cowboys. But they are also now in great shape on the tiebreaker front. The first three tiebreakers for the division are as follows:

  1. Head-to-head games
  2. Divisional record
  3. Common opponents 

With the Eagles' head-to-head win over the Cowboys on Sunday, they at least clinch a tie on that tiebreaker (duh). But also, they are now 3-0 in NFC East games, with a sweep over the pesky Commanders already in their pocket. They have three divisional games left — one more against the Cowboys in Dallas, and two against the wretched Giants, who they already own anyway.

Should the Cowboys beat the Eagles in the rematch Week 14 and both teams sweep the other two NFC East doormats, it'll go to common opponents, where the Eagles already have a big win in the bank against the Dolphins. An updated look at the NFC East's common opponents outside of the division, and results so far:

Common Opponent PHI DAL WAS NYG 
49ers  Loss  Loss 
Cardinals  Loss Win Win 
 RamsWin Win   
 Seahawks   Loss 
 Bills  Loss Loss 
 DolphinsWin   Loss 
 JetsLoss Win  Loss 
 PatriotsWin Win Win  

That Cowboys loss to the Cardinals is just... yuck.

Anyway, with this win over Dallas, the Eagles have put themselves in a very dominant position in the NFC East.

10) The 'Just Win' Award 🤷‍♂️: The Eagles

In so many of these "10 awards" articles after games, there are a lot of legitimate gripes to nitpick... after Eagles wins. They're not always pretty, and they've rarely been comfortable this season, but they consistently find ways to get the job done.

"Winning" is a skill. And the Eagles have it.

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