Good, Bad, Ugly: Record breaking overshadows Cowboys’ porous run defense in Week 18

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Dallas Cowboys did exactly what they wanted to do against the B squad of the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night, dominating the game and coming away with a 51-26 win. Head coach Mike McCarthy couldn’t have scripted it any better as his offense, led by quarterback Dak Prescott, had their best performance of the second half of the season.

If the Cowboys wanted to enter the postseason with some confidence, and that was the reason for playing most of their starters for three quarters, mission accomplished.

In the beatdown the Cowboys earned a season sweep of the NFC East, going 6-0 and put up their second 50-point game against a divisional opponent. Dallas also scored at least 44 points against each rival on their way to a 12-5 season.

The Cowboys beat an Eagles team that wasn’t playing their best players, including quarterback Jalen Hurts, but they got some of their offensive groove back, which was the biggest goal heading into the game.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly as the Cowboys embarrassed the Eagles in Week 18.

The Good: The passing game

(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

There’s been a lot of talk about how the Cowboys and Prescott have been struggling to find their form in the passing over the second half of the season. It wasn’t an issue in the season finale against the Eagles. Most of the damage was done in the first half where Prescott went 16-21 for 240 yards and threw four touchdown passes.

Even more impressive, Prescott was 6-6 throwing the ball over 10 yards in the first 30 minutes. Throwing the ball down the field and attacking the secondary has been a problem recently, but that wasn’t the case in this game.

Prescott finished passing for five scores, a career-high for a game, a 77.8% completion percentage, and 295 yards in just over three quarters of work.

Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson led the team with 119 yards and two touchdowns filling in for Michael Gallup, who’s out for the season, and Dalton Schultz pitched in with two more scores.

The Cowboys scored on six of their first seven possessions led by Prescott until he was relieved by Cooper Rush.

The Bad: Rush defense

The Eagles played an offensive line that was primarily backups and were down to their fourth and fifth string running backs, yet they still managed to run the ball for 149 yards and a touchdown. Rookie running back Kenneth Gainwell ran for 78 and averaged 6.5 yards a carry, which included a touchdown, against Dallas’ defense. Dan Quinn’s unit missed too many tackles and had poor run fits, especially in the first half.

At times this season the Cowboys have had trouble slowing down a good running team and that was the case against the Eagles.

The Good: Record breaking Cowboys

(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

On a night where there wasn’t much to gain for the Cowboys, the team managed to set a few records. Prescott’s five touchdown passes meant he finished the year with 37 touchdowns, a franchise high for a season. He broke Tony Romo’s record, and it was accomplished in 16 games, since Prescott missed one contest with the calf injury, so this isn’t a record that comes with an asterisk.

The blowout meant the Cowboys could get some work from some of the backups, and the backups to the backups. Those players took the opportunity and cashed in as five offensive players scored touchdowns for Dallas, including running backs Corey Clement, Ito Smith and JaQuan Hardy. The final touchdown by Hardy meant the Cowboys had 22 players to score a touchdown on the season, an NFL record.

Dallas also saw two more records fall. With Wilson scoring twice, it meant for the first time in franchise history, the Cowboys had at least four players with at least six touchdown catches.

Finally, the Cowboys scored 523 points on the season, a new franchise record.

The Ugly: Greg Zuerlein

(AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Another week, another missed kick from the veteran kicker. Zuerlein’s now missed six extra points on the season, the most in the NFL. He did make his only field goal attempt, but Zuerlein continues to hurt the team on the simplest task that’s asked of him.

He’s now missed 12 of his 83 attempts on the season, a true kick percentage of 85.5.

The Good: The running game

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The Cowboys ran the ball for 171 yards, their first time over 125 yards since Week 13. Ezekiel Elliott led the way with 87 yards, which included a 26-yard run on his way to eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth time in his career.

It was Elliott’s first time over 52 yards since Week 6 and his highest amount of carries (18) since Week 5. Dallas also scored three touchdowns on the ground, the first time that’s happened since Week 10.

The Cowboys committed to running the ball and it was successful for most of the night. It might have been against a majority of backup defenders for the Eagles, but just like the passing game, the rushing game looked very strong in Week 18.

1

1