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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson


Receivers on both sides put on a show for the ages - many looking for a rematch in the playoffs

Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith greets teammates at the front door of the Eagles locker room at AT&T Stadium following the Birds epic 40-34 loss to the Cowboys. Smith was brilliant in defeat, hauling in eight catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Photo by Al Thompson

ARLINGTON: The Philadelphia Eagles could not overcome four turnovers against the Dallas Cowboys in their effort to clinch the NFC East and the No. 1 overall seed – and the bye week that comes with it - in the upcoming NFL playoffs.

The Birds lost an epic game on Christmas Eve 40-34 in front of an announced crowd of 93,754 at AT&T Stadium.

“I think both teams probably hope we see each other again,” McCarthy said. “Because you know what that means.”

An NFC Title match for the ages.

The Eagles (13-2) have two more chances to wrap division and top seed when they host the New Orleans Saints next Sunday and the regular season finale on Sunday, January 8.

The optimist in Philadelphia could look at this game and look at all the brilliant plays on offense and defense.

One could see the never-quit these Eagles players showed playing without MVP candidate Jalen Hurts, who was sidelined with a shoulder sprain. His availability for the Saints game is still to be determined.

In the Eagles locker room there was not much of a mood to look at the positives.

“Can’t win no games turning the ball over four times,” Sanders said after the game. “It’s as simple as that.”

Sanders, who this week was just selected to his first Pro Bowl, finished with 65 yards on 21 carries. He lost a fumble and did not score.

Sanders was asked if there any positives coming from a game his team fought until the very end.

“We fought hard the whole game,” He said. “But you can’t win games turning the ball over four times. It’s pretty tough to lose.”

Did Sanders feel like they had a chance to win the game on the last drive? “Absolutely he said. “We always feel like we can score.”

Jason Kelce was asked the same thing

“It doesn’t matter if you try hard,” Kelce said, trying force a smile. “We didn’t and that’s all that mattered.”

Gardner Minshew, who played in place of Hurts, finished 24 of 40 for 355 yards, two touchdown passes and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble.

“We shot ourselves in the foot," Minshew said after the game. “At the end of the day, can’t turn the ball over four times,”.

The three turnovers, all made while the Eagles were driving, were converted by Dallas into a total of 17 points.

Kelce was asked what he thought of Gardner Minshew’s performance. “I thought he did a good job.”

Linebacker Kyzir White, finished with six tackles (three solo), a half a sack and a quarterback hit, was asked how he and his teammates can put this behind them.

“We just have to look at the film, get back to work and back to the drawing board.”

The Eagles first drive produced a disappointing end to a terrific start that included a 48-yard completion to A.J. Brown. The drive stalled at the Cowboys seven yard line. Jake Elliott hit a 25-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.

In Dallas’ first drive, quarterback Dak Prescott revisited his Jacksonville nightmare by throwing another pick six, this time to Eagles defense end Josh Sweat, who rolled 42 yards for a touchdown. The Birds led 10-0 with 9:18 left in the first quarter.

On the Cowboys ensuing drive Prescott – who heard some booing as he came back on the field to start the next drive, redeemed himself by leading his team on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Ezekiel Elliott one-yard touchdown run.

On a third-and-five, Prescott escaped the arms of several Eagles defenders to hit Michael Gallup with an eight-yard pass and a first down. Prescott rushed for 23 yards on two runs, during the drive. It was 10-7 Eagles after one quarter.

Eagles DE Josh Sweat intercepted Dak Prescott for a pick six on the Cowboys first drive. Photo by Andy Lewis


On first play of the second quarter Gardner Minshew threw an interception to Jayron Kearse at the Eagles 47-yard line.

Six plays later, Prescott hit CeeDee Lamb with a 36-yard TD and the score 14-10 Dallas,

Minshew bounced back leading the Birds on a 10-play, 74-yard drive that ended Minshew sneaking in from the one.

A long Cowboys drive ended with a Brett Maher 21-yard field goal.

The score was now tied 17-17 1:49 left in the half. Two times the Eagles had a chance to get Cowboys off the field...two times penalties kept the drive alive.

One flag was drawn by Darius Slay on a fourth-and-eight from the Eagles 45, an illegal contact charged to Darius Slay on a pass to T.Y Hilton that looked uncatchable.

The other was on a third-and-seven at the Dallas 39. Josh Sweat gave the Cowboys a free play after he jumped offsides.

Prescott hit Lamb for a 26-yard completion and a first down.

Minshew looked good on 10-play, 46-yard drive to end the first half. The veteran drove the Birds to the Dallas 29-yard line where Elliott hit a 47-yarder to give the Eagles a 20-17 lead at intermission.


Eagles got a real stop on Cowboys first drive of the second half, a three-and-out. It was the first punt of the game for either team.

Minshew drove the Eagles to the Dallas 14-yard-line where the drive stalled. It was fourth-and-three when the Eagles offense faked the jock strap off the Cowboys defenders.

The Cowboys had been using All Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs on DeVonta Smith to take him out of the game.

The strategy was working. Smith had just two catches for 10 yards at the half. Brown and tight end Dallas Goedert were left open and recorded five combined catches for 109 yards at the half.

The Eagles lined up for a running play, only to have Minshew drop back for a quick throw to a wide open Smith in the end zone. The Birds now led 27-17 with 9:00 left in the third quarter.


The Eagles would score just one more time. On their first drive of the fourth quarter, Minshew led the Birds on a 13-play, 75 yard drive that ended with a nine-yard strike to Smith.

But his two additional interceptions and the Sanders fumble helped fuel the Cowboys to score on three Maher field goals and a 12-yard touchdown reception by Gallup.

With 1:41 left in the fourth, the Eagles had won more chance. Starting at the Birds 25-yard line, Minshew hit Zach Pascel with a six-yard gain, then hit Kenneth Gainwell with a 15-yard completion, then brilliant catches by Brown (13 yards), Smith (22 yards) got the ball to the Dallas 19-yard line with 34 ticks on the clock…but Minshew and The Eagles ran out of downs and time.

Smith finished with eight catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Brown caught six balls for 103 yards.

Lamb had an all-star game performance, hauling in 10 catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

Prescott had a stat line that was up and down. He was 27 for 35 for 347 yards, three touchdown passes and one interception.

Kearse and DaRon Bland were the Dallas defenders who intercepted Minshew.

Neither team rushed the ball well.

The Eagles rushed 29 times for 87 yards. The Cowboys 31 times for 115 yards. Elliott rushed 16 times for 55 yards.

Zach Martin said he is not naïve. The veteran of nine seasons out of Notre Dame said the Eagles are squarely in the driver’s seat.

“We know if we want to go anywhere this year, it’s going to be through Philadelphia,” the future Hall of Famer said. “They’re a really good team. We know we played them without their quarterback. So that’s even more impressive how they played.” *

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