Cowboys playoff hopes take big hit with 17-9 loss to Eagles
PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones broke up Dak Prescott's fourth-down pass to wide receiver Michael Gallup in the end zone with 1:15 left in the game, and Philadelphia denied Dallas a division crown in a 17-9 win on Sunday.
The Cowboys (7-8) would have clinched their second straight NFC East title with a win in Philadelphia. And, they would have eliminated the Eagles (8-7). The Eagles are still in the hunt, and need to win their final game next week against the Giants to clinch the East. The Cowboys can still win the East with a win next week against Washington and an Eagles loss to the Giants.
The difference between a division title and missing the playoffs could determine the fate of Dallas coach Jason Garrett.
Playing with a sore right shoulder, Prescott attacked the Eagles cornerbacks on the final drive and had Dallas in position to possibly tie the game until Jones made the clutch stop.
Carson Wentz was 31 for 40 for 319 yards and a touchdown, and Miles Saunders ran for a score to keep the Eagles' playoff hopes alive.
Prescott finished 25 for 44 for 265 yards. Two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott, who had averaged 114.8 yards rushing in five games against the Eagles, was held to 47 yards.
Wentz gave the Eagles needed breathing room when he hit former college quarterback Greg Ward for 24 yards and Miles Sanders scored on a 1-yard run on the final play of the third quarter for a 17-3 lead.
This was the game Wentz needed to win. He tried to rally the Eagles with a pep talk in the tunnel before they hit the field for perhaps the biggest game of the 26-year-old QB's career.
"We are built for this moment," Wentz said. "Play with so much confidence, so much swagger, that everyone in the stadium can feel you. Believe in yourself, believe in the guy next to you and let's go ball out for 60 minutes."
Perhaps fueled by the emotional edict, Wentz came out connecting on almost every pass, and a maligned wide receiver group that suffered a season-long case of the drops suddenly made plays.
Wentz hit JJ Arcega-Whiteside -- whose late-game drop cost them in a loss against Detroit -- for 27 yards on the first play on a drive that ended with Jake Elliott's 36-yard field goal.
He ended the second drive with an 6-yard TD pass to Dallas Goedert that had Eagles fans going wild. The Linc was rocking, and as Wentz started 9 for 11 for 107 yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles couldn't keep it going, stymied in part by a questionable call from coach Doug Pederson. Pederson called a timeout on a fourth-and-1 on the Dallas 33-yard line, thought about the call, and drew up a pass play out of the shotgun that was incomplete.
Dallas' Kai Forbath kicked field goals of 49 and 32 yards to keep the score a manageable 10-6 at halftime.
Pederson had Elliott try a 55-yarder early in the fourth that was no good and gave Dallas a short field that led to Forbath's 49-yarder that made it 17-9.
Cowboys: LB Leighton Vander Esch remained sidelined with a neck injury. Vander Esch missed his fifth straight game and there's no guarantee he'll return this season.
Eagles: TE Zach Ertz injured his ribs early in the game and was listed as questionable to return after a visit to the locker room. But Ertz, Philadelphia's leading receiver, got wrapped and returned to the lineup for the final drive of the first half. ... CB Ronald Darby left the game with a hip flexor and the other CB Jalen Mills also left with an injured ankle. Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones took their spots.
Prescott screamed "defer!" on the coin toss a week after miscommunication on the call caused NFL officials in New York to step in.
Cowboys: Host the Redskins on Sunday.