The Dallas Cowboys picked up one of their biggest wins so far this season, defending home turf against the Philadelphia Eagles. Beating the current NFC leaders, even without their starting quarterback, took an all-around effort from the Cowboys. Let’s see how each unit for Dallas contributed to this important victory.
Here are the grades for last Sunday’s game. As always, grades are relative to the opponent and the expectations for how the team should perform. Given the absence of QB Jalen Hurts this week for Philly, that will especially skew things for how we evaluate the defense’s performance.
Cowboys Offense: B
The Cowboys posted 40 points and over 400 yards of offense on what many considered the best defense in the NFL. While the Eagles’ own turnovers helped, Dallas still had to take advantage of those opportunities and did it with an impressively high volume.
Dak Prescott overcame one early mistake, his pick-six throw to Eagles DE Josh Sweat, to have a tremendous game overall. Prescott put up 347 yards and three touchdowns despite being sacked six times and pressured throughout the day. His connection with WR CeeDee Lamb continued to shine, resulting in 10 catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns for Dallas’ top receiver. Dak also found T.Y. Hilton for a 52-yard bomb on a 3rd-and-30 play which arguably decided the outcome, setting up a touchdown later in the drive.
The passing game’s potency was needed as Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard didn’t have a great day. With just 74 yards on 25 carries between them, there was nothing monstrous about the two-headed attack. But Zeke did find the endzone to help finish one drive, and Pollard had six catches for 61 yards to provide other offensive assistance.
Obviously, between the sacks and the lack of run production, this wasn’t a strong showing from the offensive line. Tyron Smith is still figuring things out at right tackle, though he’s still far better than Josh Ball would be. These last two regular season games will be invaluable to improving things up front and getting some momentum going toward the postseason.
Cowboys Defense: C+
On the one hand, Dallas got four turnovers which easily decided this game. On the other, they gave up 442 yards and 27 points to a team missing its starting quarterback. That makes grading this one a little harder than usual.
If you want to talk about how good Dak looked on his side of things, Gardner Minshew deserves plenty of love for his own effort. With 355 yards and two touchdowns, Minshew gave the Eagles’ offense a different look that likely helped befuddle Dallas’ defense at times. But despite being in the pocket more than Jalen Hurts might have, Minshew wasn’t sacked at all in a poor showing from the Cowboys’ pass rush.
Still, Dallas showed up against the run with only 82 yards surrendered on 25 carries. They didn’t allow Philly to ever get comfortable with their leads and made some critical stops when needed. CB DaRon Bland got his fifth interception of the year while S Jayron Kearse came up big with a fumble recovery and an interception.
Cowboys Special Teams: A
Brett Maher went four-for-four on his field goals for a huge contribution. Punter Bryan Anger was only called on one time and boomed it 57 yards. And KaVontae Turpin had a 31-yard kickoff return, plus a 56-yard return that got called back due to holding. With nothing big given up on the other end, it was another strong game for John Fassel’s crew.
Cowboys Coaches: B
As we’ve talked about throughout these grades, how far do you go in praising the coaches here? Should the game have really been those close with Hurts missing?
Kellen Moore definitely deserves love for how his offense looked against that Philly defense. But conversely, Dan Quinn’s squad was just a few big turnovers away from a horrible showing against a team playing its backup QB. Still, Quinn is having to deal with some significant personnel losses at cornerback, linebacker, and defensive end which are part of the problem.
Overall, Mike McCarthy deserves credit for the resilience that his team continuously shows. Whether it’s the injuries or bad moments in games, these Cowboys seem to be rising to the challenges more often than they wilt. That has them at 11-4 and, even if not likely to win the NFC East, still one of the most respectable contenders going into the playoffs.