Dallas Cowboys rekindle the hope of fans

Jaylon Smith continued to show improvement coming off a serious injury and had a strong performance against the Eagles. (Photo: Keith Allison / Flickr)
Jaylon Smith continued to show improvement coming off a serious injury and had a strong performance against the Eagles.

By Dwain Price, North Dallas Gazette Sports

SAN FRANCISCO – For a change, the Dallas Cowboys did what nobody outside of their locker room thought they could do.

They went to Philadelphia and upset the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles.

Quarterback Dak Prescott threw for one touchdown and ran for another one and running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a touchdown and also caught a touchdown pass as the Cowboys stunned the Eagles, 27-20, and climbed right back in the thick of the NFC race.

In winning their first road game of the season, the Cowboys improved to 4-5 and are just two games behind the Washington Redskins (6-3) in the race for supremacy in the NFC East. The Cowboys got back in the race by piling up 410 yards against the Eagles and holding them to just 71 yards rushing.

“Obviously that’s a good team we played out there, they’re the defending Super Bowl champions in their home stadium, a great atmosphere,” Prescott said. “We scored, they responded, we scored, they responded.

“Our defense went out there and was able to stop them when we needed to get this win.”

The Cowboys opened up the playbook against the Eagles, got very creative on offense, and even uncharacteristically went for it on fourth down. They also successfully executed a fake punt on a 4-and-2 play and got the first down when they picked up three yards.

“Our backs were against the wall,” Prescott said. “With the team we have, as you saw, we were throwing punches and we were coming out fighting.

“We were just at them the whole time. We’re not going to stop. Regardless of the record, we’re moving forward.”

Elliott, who rushed 19 times for 151 yards in picking up his 16th career 100-yard rushing day, scored the go-ahead touchdown from a yard out with 3:19 remaining in the game. The Cowboys then had to hold off a furious rally by the Eagles, who reached as far as the Dallas 10-yard line before time expired.

“It was absolutely mandatory that we went out and got this win,” Elliott said. “We wanted to keep our hopes up for winning this division and making the playoffs.”

Rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch played an incredible game for the Cowboys, finishing with 13 solo tackles, and one huge tackle for a loss on a fourth down play. He also registered his first career interception and wound up being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

The win over the Eagles snapped a two-game losing streak for the Cowboys, who know they still have major home games remaining against the Eagles and Redskins this season. For now, the Cowboys will try and string together a winning streak for the first time this season when they play in Atlanta on Sunday at noon.

“There’s no room for taking a step back, there’s no room for error at this point,” cornerback Byron Jones said. “The goal is to just build on top of the win last week and keep it going.

“We’ve got to win now and we’ve got to win big.”

Of course, beating the Falcons will be a daunting task for the Cowboys, who were embarrassed in Atlanta by the Falcons last season, losing 27-7 in a game Prescott was sacked a career-high eight times.

“I don’t think we’ve won consecutive games this year, so it’s going to be big for us,” guard Zack Martin said. “They’re a talented team, we got our butts whipped there last year, so we have to come out and execute and hopefully get another road win.”

Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford knew fans were down on the Cowboys after they lost at home to the Tennessee Titans the week prior to going on the road to defeat Philadelphia. But he also knows this team can ill-afford to be on these emotional roller coasters from week to week.

“W’s are important in this league and we can’t have losses that hurt us in the long run, so we’ve got to win out,” Crawford said. “We just got to keep getting W’s, and that’s our mindset right now.

“Our backs are against the wall and we have to go forward.”

As the Cowboys look ahead to Sunday’s game against the Falcons, they do so knowing they have the tools to pull out a victory when their backs are against the wall. Still, they also realize the Falcons are a formidable team that are two years removed from playing in the Super Bowl.

“Obviously we didn’t play well enough last year in that ballgame (against the Falcons),” coach Jason Garrett said. “If you learn from those experiences you move forward.

“The biggest thing we have to do is focus on this year’s team and this week’s game. . .to get ready to play our best ball on Sunday.”

And if the Cowboys play the Falcons anywhere close to the way they played the
Eagles, the sky is really the limit on how far this team can go this season.

“We’ve got a great team, as I’ve always said,” Prescott said. “With the character of this team, when we were down two games, it wasn’t over for us.

“We knew it with the people we have and the team we have. And we’re just steadily moving forward in everything that we do.”

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