ARLINGTON, Texas — The Eagles had a chance to clinch the top seed in the NFC on Christmas Eve but they got in their own way.
They turned the football over four times and failed to stop the Cowboys on a crucial 3rd-and-30 in a 40-34 loss at AT&T Stadium.
While the Eagles still just have to win one of their remaining two games to earn that No. 1 seed, this loss definitely hurt.
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Gardner Minshew: 24/40, 355 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
It’s hard not to think that if the Eagles had Jalen Hurts in this game, they beat Dallas pretty easily. But Minshew did some really good things. His 355 yards are the second-most in his career and more than Hurts has thrown for in all but one game this season. But Minshew also threw two costly interceptions in a game where the Eagles turned the football over four times. He misfired on a few passes, but it was a solid showing that makes you think he’ll be able to beat the Saints next week if needed.
Miles Sanders: 21 carries, 65 yards, 1 fumble
Sanders ran hard on Saturday but still averaged just 3.1 yards per attempt. And his fumble late in the fourth quarter was brutal. There was also a fumble on an exchange between Minshew and Boston Scott. Kenny Gainwell did some nice things with 58 scrimmage yards on 8 touches.
DeVonta Smith: 8 catches on 12 targets, 113 yards, 2 TDs
Had the Eagles won this game, one of the biggest storylines coming out of it would have been the heroics of Smith, who made big catch after big catch down the stretch. He’s an elite receiver and went over 1,000 yards for the season. A.J. Brown also had 103 yards on 6 catches. Not a great game from Quez Watkins, though, who had 19 yards on 1 catch but was targeted 5 times. Two of those targets ended up as interceptions.
Dallas Goedert: 3 catches on 3 targets, 67 yards
Goedert was able to pick up yards in chunks but had just three targets, which is a little confusing. Hard to justify more targets for Watkins than Goedert in his return from injury.
Despite looking uneasy at times in the pocket, Minshew was not sacked once on Saturday and enjoyed a relatively clean pocket despite 40+ drop backs. That’s a nice job from the Eagles’ offensive line against a really dangerous front. But the final rushing numbers weren’t great.
Josh Sweat: 3 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, 2 QB hits, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 TD
This defensive line got after it again. They had 6 sacks and had back-to-back sacks to set up a 3rd-and-30 in the fourth quarter. Not their fault it was converted. Haason Reddick led the way with 2. And Sweat also put up points with his pick-6 in the first quarter.
T.J. Edwards: 14 tackles
Edwards filled up the stat sheet and the Eagles’ linebackers handled the run pretty well. But the Cowboys really exploited the middle of the field in the pass game with CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz and found ways to get Tony Pollard involved in the pass game.
Reed Blankenship: 8 tackles
The Eagles lost Avonte Maddox in the first half and Josiah Scott really struggled to replace him. Dak Prescott completed 27 of 35 passes (77%) for 347 yards and had 3 touchdowns. His one interception was snagged by Josh Sweat. And the secondary gave up a brutal 3rd-and-30, which simply can’t happen. Some of this is on the DC but the defense didn’t make enough plays either. They need to get their starters back.
Jake Elliott: 2/2 on FGs, 4/4 on PATs
No complaints about the special teams unit. The punter got the day off and Elliott made everything he attempted. Boston Scott returned two kicks for 54 yards (27) and Britain Covey fair caught the only punt that came his way.
I thought there were some good things in this game, especially offensively. That first Smith touchdown was a thing of beauty. And it’s hard to fault the coaching staff too much for turnovers; they’re not coughing it up.
Defensively, we saw the type of game from Jonathan Gannon that we were worried about. Dak Prescott completed 27 of 35 passes (77.1%) for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns. He kept moving the football up and down the field. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Prescott was 24/24 for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns against zone coverage. Woof.
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