Eagles vs. Cowboys: the good, the bad and the ugly

The Eagles remained the only undefeated team in the NFL by finding a way to win again by getting past the Dallas Cowboys, 26-17, after nearly losing a 20-point lead at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday night.

This marks the third time in franchise history that the Eagles have started the season 6-0 (1981 and 2004 were the other two).

The Eagles used an explosive second quarter of 20 points to win. So far this season, they have scored 112 points in the second quarter and only 14 points in the first, 17 in the third and 18 in the fourth.

Jalen Hurts finished with a modest 15 of 25 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns, while AJ Brown caught five passes for a team-high 67 yards and his second touchdown of the season, and Miles Sanders rushed for 71 yards on 18 carries and a touch down.

The Eagles defense threw some fire at Cowboys’ backup quarterback Cooper Rush, who completed 18 of 38 for 181 yards and a touchdown, while throwing three interceptions, two by safety CJ Gardner-Johnson and one by cornerback Darius Slay.

Dallas came into the game and had turned the ball only twice in the first five games.

The Eagles won without Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson for the second half under concussion protocol after Johnson did a good job forcing Dallas out of linebacker Micah Parsons.

There was a lot of good, some bad, and some ugly in the Eagles’ 26-17 win over Dallas.

The good

In second and ninth on the Dallas 29, Hurts found Brown for a 22-yard gain and a first deficit to the Dallas Seven with 7:32 to play. The next game Hurts hit DeVonta Smith with a touchdown pass, filling a small lead in a 26-17 tie with 7:02 to play.

In third and fourth place on the Dallas 45 with just over 10 a.m. to play, Kenneth Gainwell backs five yards for a first deficit. It extended the Eagles’ drive and protected the slim 20-17 lead.

In third and ninth place on the Dallas 26, cornerback Darius Slay stepped in for a Rush pass intended for Michael Gallup at 5:14 in the second quarter, eventually leading to Jake Elliott’s second field goal. Slay hit another pass on second and 10th at the Eagles’ 41 with 1:17 to play.

It hurts to find Brown in third and third place on the Dallas 15 with his second TD reception of the season and a 14-0 lead over Eagles with 4:07 left in the half.

Cornerback James Bradberry fending off a pass intended for Gallup. Safety CJ Gardner-Johnson intercepted the deflection with 14:47 left in the first half in the Dallas 44. Bradberry came back to avert another Rush pass with 9:24 left in the half, in a critical fourth and one in. de Dallas 34. The defended pass led to an Elliott 51-yard field goal and an impressive 17-0 Eagles lead.

Gardner-Johnson later made a game-saving second interception with a dive catch with 5:03 to play. Defensive ending Brandon Graham forced the interception by pressuring Rush.

On the Eagles’ first score, left guard Landon Dickerson wielded Dallas’ tackle Chauncey Golston, giving Sanders a running lane to score the Eagles’ first touchdown. Dickerson turned and then buried Golston.

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni goes for it in fourth and fourth place in the Dallas 10 with :08 left in the first quarter. A neutral zone violation in Dallas resulted in Sanders’ five-yard TD run on the first game of the second quarter.

On the Eagles’ second ride, on the fourth and third on the Dallas 38 with 3:38 left in the first quarter. It was the most important game in shaping the tenor of the game. It was a well-designed play that made Parsons hesitate for a moment at deception, and enabled Hurts to throw a short pass to Brown for an 11-yard gain. Johnson, who had done a good job against Parsons, didn’t block him at all. Parsons came forward not knowing what to do, rush Hurts or pick up Brown, who ran past him. The fourth down conversion gave the Eagles the first score of the game.

Hurts’ 21-yard completion to back up tight end Jack Stoll on the Eagles’ second drive, who took the ball to the Eagles’ 43 on second and eighth. In the grand scheme of things, it may not have seemed important, but it was a jump start for the Eagles’ attack.

Safety Marcus Epps dive deflection on third and fourth on the Dallas 41 on the Cowboys’ second series.

Defensive tackle Jordan Davis fights Dallas center Tyler Biadasz to stop Tony Pollard for a six-foot gain on the first and 10 on the Dallas 35 on the Cowboys’ second ride.

Defensive end Josh Sweat closes on Ezekiel Elliott on the Cowboys’ first run, third and second on the Dallas 24.

Linebacker Kyzir White knocked down Rush’s first pass of the match, which was intended for CeeDee Lamb.

The bad

It hurts to miss Brown in third and eighth on the Eagles’ 44 on their first ride. Hurts had it open and knocked over.

Brown drops the first pass of the Jalen Hurts game at the Eagles’ 35.

Linebacker Haason Reddick was unable to get off the block from Cowboys’ correct tackle Terence Steele during the opening round of the game, when Lamb finished eight yards. On second and 14 at the Eagles’ 24 with :15 to go in the third quarter, Reddick failed to take down Elliott, who reached the Eagles’ 12 in the final game of the third quarter.

the ugly one

In a very rare foul by Jason Kelce’s center, the miscommunication between Kelce and Hurts resulted in a fumble when Kelce snapped the ball while Hurts was still calling out signals. The Eagles recovered the fumble to play 2:46 in the Dallas 42.

Gardner-Johnson and Epps both sniff Dallas tight end Jake Ferguson on the Cowboys’ 7-yard, fourth quarter touchdown reception with 14:39 to play, putting Dallas within 20-17.

With 14:54 to play, Slay was called up for illegal contact on a third and two at the Eagles’ 12. The flag put Dallas a first behind and gave Ferguson the score.

Linebacker TJ Edwards for losing to Ferguson on a first-and-10 at the Eagles’ 47 for a 22-yard win. The game led to Ezekiel Elliott’s 14-yard touchdown run with 8:19 left in the third quarter.

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was knocked out completely by Steele, who played a great game, during the Elliott touchdown in the third quarter. Then Cox saw Elliott run past from the back.

Losing outside linebackers Kyron Johnson and Nakobe Dean included KaVontea Turpin’s 63-yard kickoff return that led to the Cowboys’ only runs in the first half.

The only other blemish in an otherwise perfect half came with 2:21 left in the second quarter when tackle Jordan Mailata was flagged for a false start. It left the Eagles with a third and 18 on the Dallas 28, forcing them to settle for an Elliott 34-yard field goal and a 20-0 lead.

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter from the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin, and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most famous for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler AJ Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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