Cowboys rally past Eagles, keep slim NFC East hopes alive
The Philadelphia Eagles were thriving with Gardner Minshew on Saturday, but the Dallas Cowboys rallied for a Christmas Eve win over their division rivals to keep their slim NFC East hopes alive.
The Eagles scored the game's first 10 points and led 27-17 in the third quarter with quarterback Jalen Hurts sidelined with a shoulder injury. But the Cowboys scored 23 second-half points to secure a 40-34 victory capped off by a late defensive stand in the red zone.
Dak Prescott led the Dallas rally with a pair of second-half touchdown passes, the second of which to CeeDee Lamb tied the game at 34-34. The Cowboys took the lead, 37-34 on a 48-yard Brett Maher field goal with 2:19 remaining.
The Eagles' effort to take back the lead went poorly. Running back Miles Sanders fumbled on the first play of Philadelphia's ensuing possession, and the Cowboys took possession with 2:07 remaining and a chance to close out the game. They weren't quite able to salt it away.
They drove 13 yards and managed to take just 26 seconds off the clock before facing a fourth-and-goal decision from the Philadelphia 3-yard line. They unsuccessfully attempted to draw the Eagles offside, then opted to kick a field goal with 1:41 remaining.
The Eagles threatened on their last possession with a 56-yard drive. But Minshew's desperation pass under pressure to the end zone fell incomplete, and the Cowboys walked away with a key NFC East victory.
Minshew, making his first start of the season, finished the day completing 24 of 40 passes for 355 yards with two touchdowns. But a pair of interceptions led to 10 Cowboys points, including a fourth-quarter pick that set Dallas up for the go-ahead field goal. Prescott, meanwhile, completed 27 of 35 passes for 347 yards with three touchdowns and a pick-6. He faced pressure all day and was sacked six times, but ultimately made the plays Dallas needed for victory. Lamb was his top target with 10 catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns, including a 36-yarder in the second quarter.
The loss was just the second for the Eagles, who maintain control of the division and the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed with a 13-2 record. But they couldn't capitalize on a chance to secure the NFC East with two weeks remaining in the regular season. Dallas, which has already secured a wild-card berth, improved to 11-4 to remain within striking distance.
The Cowboys close their season out with games against the Tennessee Titans and Washington Commanders. The Eagles close with games against the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants. They'll hope to have Hurts back sooner than later after their MVP-candidate quarterback was sidelined with a shoulder sprain sustained in Week 15's win over the Chicago Bears.
Regardless of how the division plays out, both teams could very well end up facing each other for a third time in playoffs. They'll hope to do so with healthy starting quarterbacks for the first time. Philadelphia beat Dallas in Week 6 while Prescott was sidelined with an injury. The Cowboys won in kind on Saturday against Minshew.